From June 5 to 9, 2023, VNG International project Improving Sustainability of the WASH Sector in Upper Egypt (ISWS) held a study visit from Egypt, consisting of participants from the Ministry of Local Development, the governorates of Minya, Assiut, Qena and Sohag and the governorates’ Water Companies, and the Holding Company of Water and Wastewater.
After exchanges between the Dutch Water Partners of the ISWS Project, Brabant Water (Brabant Water Utility) and Waterschap Brabantse Delta (Water Authority of Brabant), and the Egyptian Holding Company for Water and Wastewater in Cairo and Upper Egypt, it was now time to pay a visit to the Dutch Water Partners’ premises in Brabant region. The program of the week invited the hosts as well as the visiting participants to exchange on citizen engagement and communication in WASH service delivery, the mechanisms for customer complaints, and planning, operation and maintenance of water infrastructure and management. The participants exchanged knowledge on the different water governance systems and the situations and challenges in both countries, through sharing good practices about climate adaptation, cities’ resilience to water challenges and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).
The delegation started the week with an overview on Water Governance in The Netherlands given by Mr. Herman Havekes, Strategic Advisor to the Board and Management of the Dutch Union of Water Authorities. They were then presented with the Climate Adaptive infrastructure of the Molenvliet Park by Mr. Piet-Hein Daverveldt, Chairman of Water Authority Delfland, before discussing The Hague’s resilience to water with Mr. Gijs Remmerswaal, Policy Officer on Resilience from The Hague Municipality. The program of the day raised interesting discussions on amongst others: the division of responsibilities between the different actors involved in water governance in the Netherlands, in comparison to the Egyptian system; the functioning of the decentralized service provision; and environmental standards water actors have to adhere to.
The Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in Brabant, at various premises of Waterschap Brabantse Delta in Breda,and Brabant Water, in Eindhoven. Rob Wolberink, Director of Waterschap Brabantse Delta,and his colleagues introduced the role of water authorities in the Netherlands and the interconnected system with others stakeholders, and guided the delegation through the Historical Sewer of Breda. To dig into the role of drinking water companies and their challenges, the group traveled the following day to Brabant Water’s drinking water production plant in Veghel, where topics like treatment, groundwater sources and challenges for the future were discussed, whereafter the delegation took part in sessions on customer services and complaints management.
Following this, Oscar Alvarado, Senior Programme Manager and Trainer at The Hague Academy for Local Governance, held a workshop on inclusive service delivery & the SDGs. Various exercises allowed the participants to define key concepts related to SDGs, link them to inclusive local service delivery and reflect about it in the context of the ISWS project to set a common understanding of the terminology. Wouter Wolters, Water Management Expert, wrapped up the week with an interactive session on shared water sustainability challenges between the Netherlands and Egypt, during which the key takeaways of the week and the applicability of Dutch practices to the Egyptian context were discussed. Thanks to the active participation of the group in the study visit, both Egyptian participants and Dutch hosts, we together managed to take a bit step in exchanging knowledge on water governance to benefit the project’s aim: Improving Sustainability in the WASH Sector in Upper Egypt.