Improving Nigerian water service delivery with the WOP approach
Since 2000, Nigeria’s urban water sector has been reformed to improve the reliability and financial viability of key urban water utilities, therefore increasing access to piped water service. Ogun State Water Corporation (OGWSC) is a beneficiary of the Nigerian National Urban Water Sector Reform Program. This program, funded by the World Bank, has focused on capital investments to improve water supply reliability, procurement of meters, and implementation of the Ogun State Delegated Area Management Contracts (OGIDAMCs). Yet OGSWC still suffers from gaps and challenges in service delivery and operational performance, such as revenue improvement and Non-Revenue Water (NRW) management.
In June 2012, OGSWC signed a Memorandum of Understanding and WOP Code of Conduct with the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC), one of the leading African water utilities, under the WOP-Africa program. WOP-Africa supports African water and sanitation operators in improving water quality and sustainable, efficient service delivery through the promotion of not-for-profit partnerships between high-performing and poor-performing operators. Through these partnerships, stronger utilities mentor weaker utilities in management, operation and maintenance areas.
The partnership focused on capacity building and knowledge exchange relating to NRW reduction, and enhanced GIS and mapping applications. In April 2013, experts from NWSC conducted a diagnostics visit at OGSWC. The team assessed systems and operations, focusing on NRW reduction; customer physical referencing using surveys, mapping and GIS; performance reviews and setting targets; and preparation of a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). The main issues identified included physical losses, illegal water uses, inadequate metering and meter management, and an inappropriate information system.
In April 2014, OGSWC travelled to NWSC for a benchmarking visit and they were introduced to NWSC’s systems, equipment, and operations during field visits and demonstrations. OGSWC presented their progress on PIP implementation, NWSC made additional recommendations, and together they identified the next steps. During the diagnostic, staff training was identified as necessary for good implementation of the PIP. So during the benchmarking visit training sessions were held on NRW reduction, and GIS and mapping applications. Topics included survey, GIS and mapping; meter management and illegal use reduction; network management; leak detection and control; and billing and customer care. OGSWC was also introduced to some of NWSC’s innovative reforms, such as the customer complaint monitoring system; GIS and mapping system; tools for leak detection, illegal connections, and pressure balance; and 24-hour call center.
Continued Mentoring and Actions
NWSC continues to provide mentoring OGSWC through distance technical assistance via telephone and email, and during WOP-Africa program meetings and sector conferences. Implementation of the PIP was first assessed during the benchmarking visit in April 2014 and again during the mid-term evaluation workshop in July 2014. The final evaluation occurred in December 2014.
The participatory approach to diagnosing operational problems and strategic reactions required has led to a paradigm shift in OGSWC management operations. Now, staff have a higher sense of ownership of ideas and commitment to actualization. This culture shift within the organization has contributed to the following PIP activities:
- Established GIS unit as a performance improvement mechanism for NRW reduction
- On-going discussions to establish a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) unit
- Installed 556 meters for commercial customers and concluded a preliminary study on the installation of 450 meters in a housing estate
- Established an anti-leakage team to monitor and repair leakages in the 9 business units
- Reduced NRW from 73 percent to 53 percent
- Conducted a public enlightenment campaign via radio and television on water wastages and illegal use
- Set up a steering committee by the State government on the implementation of the water policy and second reading of the Urban Water Bill at the State House of Assembly
- In the process of finalizing arrangements for the regulation and construction of kiosks for public stand pipes
- Improved documentation and reporting
- Now an active mentor to Ondo State Water Board through WOP-Nigeria
Lessons Learned by OGSWC
OGSWC learned that a more integrated and comprehensive approach is necessary to ensure sustainability, and installing meters is a quick-win for more efficient revenue collection. The organization also believes that problems can be solved over time through similar interactive and joint-learning processes.
Way Forward for OGSWC
Future priorities for the organization include continued implementation of the following PIP activities:
- Follow-up on-the-job training for meter management and asset management, leak detection, GIS, customer care operations, and M&E operations;
- Reorganizing the existing distribution network for improved hydraulic efficiency;
- Phased replacement of old asbestos cement pipes; and,
- Decentralization of customer account management
OGSWC also plans to share its knowledge experience with other Nigerian water operators, and as such will continue to mentor the Ondo State Water Corporation through WOP-Nigeria. These mentoring activities will have a multiplier effect and contribute to the improvement of water operator performance across the country.