The «Liaison Officers»

Facility for Capacity Development for District and Township Water Utilities in Tanzania

Some Water Supply and Sanitation Authorities (WSSAs) which participated in the GIZ Capacity Development Project have managed to change rather fast and are demonstrating remarkable improvements in terms of number of customers served, service area covered, duration of service and efficiency in revenue collection while other WSSAs are struggling. Consequently, the strategy of using resource persons from nearby well performing WSSAs to coach the newly established water utilities has been adopted. These resource persons are known as Liaison Officers (LOs).

Contact: Martha Kabuzya | Cell: +255 713443315 | kabuzyam(at)yahoo.co.uk | Association of Tanzanian Water Suppliers (ATAWAS)

Lessons Learnt

  • In order for water utilities to move forward quickly they have to assist one another.
  • The idea of having neighboring WSSAs assisting each other seems to be a useful capacity development tool not only for the supported WSSA but also for the one supporting.
  • Some LOs have developed long lasting professional relationships with the staff they support and this provides peer learning opportunities.
  • The idea could also be introduced in the other services oriented sectors such as education and health where such institutions can support each other.

Objectives

The objective of having Liaison Officers is to offer technical support to the WSSAs management and staff to implement aspects of their action plans prepared during the face to face workshops. This support is offered by using resource persons from nearby well performing WSSAs.

Liaison Officers have been appointed by the CD project in consultation with the management of their utilities and the Ministry of Water, for their strategic working positions and wealth of practical experience in relation to the performance improvement challenges facing the WSSAs that are participating in the CD project.

Project Description

Once the staff of a utility is identified to work as a Liaison Officer, the CD project carries out an orientation workshop to discuss and share experience on the challenges involved in the assignment. Where necessary some training on coaching, carrying out qualitative assessment and moderation skills is carried out.

Once contracted, a liaison officer carries out the following activities: 

  1. Communicating with his or her utilities through email, telephone and agreeing on dates for physical visits. The visits can be two sided that is, either LO visit the utility or the utility staff to visit the LO at his/her utility.
  2. Prepares a report that is countersigned by the Manager of the utility supported. Reports are sent by the LO to the project office where they are analyzed and feedback provided to both the LO and the supported utility, project trainers and where necessary shared during the Project Steering Meetings.
  3. Participate in the subsequent face to face workshops and share his or her experience in supporting the respective utilities and drawing the attention of the project on areas where further attention is needed to improve performance in the utilities. Participation of LOs in the workshops helps a lot in understanding what really is happening in the utilities and uncover important issues that are discussed and solutions outlined during plenary with contributions from all participants of the workshop.

Results

Outputs and action plans produced during face to face workshops are implemented on time because utilities have close assistance from the LOs.

Liaison Officers help to strengthen the relationship between utilities and Local Government Authorities. During their visits they sometimes meet with District Executive Director (DED) and District Water Engineer (DWE) to help solving Governance issues facing the WSSA. Issues that have been addressed through such meetings include staffing, procurement procedures, Roles of Board members and WSSA financial autonomy.

Different issues raised by LOs, even if they are outside the CD themes have been attended by responsible Ministries (MoW, PMO-RALG) and EWURA.

Sustainability

The LO facility approach is a sustainable one since it does not necessarily require huge amounts of funds. For instance with effective ICT it is possible for the LO and the supported staff to interact and solve some professional problems. In case visits are required these can be planed and financed by the supported utility.

The idea of neighborhood assistance between WSSAs has started to catch up in some water utilities. Some regions have formed their own regional water utility meetings where they discuss challenges they face and find solution within themselves. Sustaining interactions within a given administrative region is much more feasible than sustaining national level interactions.

On the other hand it is also likely that national level interventions can be supported by the Association of Tanzanian Water Suppliers once they become stronger in mobilizing resources and occupy a more central position in offering capacity development activities in the water sector. In this way ATAWAS will be able to support some LOs supporting their members.

WAVE Impact

The idea of having a follow-up of the action plans was generated from the WAVE programme. In WAVE, the follow up is done by a contracted WAVE trainer after the workshop. Some utilities failed to implement their action plans because follow up could not be provided due to limited number of available WAVE trainers and budget. That is the point where the Liaison officers came in.