LAMIC: New Task Force for More Water Utility Efficiency

The young International Water Association (IWA) is steadily gaining momentum. Apart from organising international water conferences and promoting Young Water Professionals, the association also operates several Specialist Groups and their Task Forces, whe

re most of the work gets done.

One of them is the Task Force on Water Utility Efficiency in Low and Middle Income Countries, which was established in spring 2007 (short: LAMIC TF). The mission statement of the LAMIC Task Force comprises the following principles:

  • supporting the development of leadership and providing the tools necessary to improve the quality and efficiency of water services in low- and middle-income countries;
  • developing special programmes to assist lowand middle-income countries in facilitating improved and sustainable water services and providing models for outreach, management and governance to achieve greater system efficiency;
  • providing a participatory forum for exchange of information for low- and middle-income countries by developing and disseminating technical and financial tools, best-practice programmes and governance models for improving water efficiency and access to water services also for the poor.

The goal now is to fill the LAMIC TF with life. For the Austrian water loss expert Roland Liemberger, Chair of the new Task Force, the first step in this direction is to translate this mission statement into a medium-term action plan. Since the LAMIC experts have so far only been able to meet at IWA conferences with busy schedules, a new concept was sought that provides enough room for well-structured expert debates, social contacts and also informal talks.

The debate forum best suited to meet these needs was found to be a scheme modelled on the “fireside chats” known from journalism. The first LAMIC Fireside Chats were held on 6 – 11 January 2008 in the picture-postcard village of Vercorin in the Swiss Alps. Fourteen international water experts from Australia, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Israel, Spain, United States (California) and Austria gathered to discuss new ways of approaching the problems of water utilities in middle- and lowincome countries and rendering the work of utilities more efficient.

Talks quite often lasted well into the night. The first LAMIC Fireside Chats resulted in the so-called “Vercorin Statement”, which sets out an action programme for the 2008-2009 period comprising the following goals:

  • developing a Water Utility Self-Assessment System which provides a simple and systematic method of identifying the efficiency or inefficiency of water utility operations;
  • dealing intensively with energy efficiency and carbon footprints with due consideration of the water utilities addressed by LAMIC; relevant studies shall be proposed to the World Bank which help to improve the identification of problems arising in the Soviet Successor States and in Africa;
  • setting up guidelines for a more efficient selection, maintenance and use of domestic water meters in keeping with LAMIC requirements;
  • organising specialised workshops and discussion forums during the IWA Conferences held within the next two years.

“In my capacity as Chair of the LAMIC Task Force I am particularly grateful for the valuable support which our new initiative receives from IWA (represented by Darren Saywell in Vercorin) as well as for the excellent cooperation with the World Bank, the World Bank Institute in general and Jan Janssens in particular”, says Liemberger. The next LAMIC meeting is scheduled for January 2009.
(Source: aqua press Int. 1/2008)

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