Water Journal : Water Journal April 2011
awa news regular features 48 APRIL 2011 water The Benefits of Twinning: Why Bother and What's In It for Me? -- by Matthew Giesemann, General Manager Engineering, City West Water Twinning is a partnership between a mentor and a recipient involving focused exchange and sharing of best practice to enhance the skills, service delivery and operational efficiency of the recipient. In the water sector, these twinning partnerships are generally between water utilities and are also called water utility or water operator partnerships. They typically consist of a partner with recognised successes that is willing to mentor a partner with specific challenges in providing water supply and sanitation services. A range of international agencies run twinning programs that support these exchanges between utilities in developed countries and those in developing countries. This support includes brokering the twinning agreement and support of travel costs for the exchange visits. Australian utilities have shown an increasing commitment to twinning. City West Water (CWW) leads this commitment in Australia and is now embarking on its third twinning partnership. The Evolution of Twinning Twinning schemes have been around since the mid-1970s when a number of African countries were gaining their independence. Twinning was used as a way of quickly developing the human capital these countries would require to form governments and government administrations. Twinning schemes have changed in both shape and size since then. Since 2008 the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been supporting one of these morphs with the aim of strengthening water utilities in developing countries by twinning them with expert utilities from developed countries. However, the same premise from the original 1970 concept remains; twinning schemes are quick, cheap, outcome- focused and people-driven. The AWA is promoting twinning schemes in Australia and is providing a facilitation role between the ADB, prospective expert (or mentoring) twins and prospective recipient twins. City West Water (CWW) has been twinning under the ADB program since June 2008 and is now on its third twin. So why does CWW bother with twining? And what are the benefits? Staff Development and Recruitment Twinning usually involves two people from the expert twin visiting the recipient twin for week-long stints over an 18-month period. (There may also be a reciprocal visit at some stage.) Generally, in the order of five trips are required. The twinning focuses on one topic only, examples of which include asset management, non-revenue water and customer service. This is a great opportunity to send an experienced person, along with another who is learning the ropes, to another country to study another water utility. Both participants will be exposed to a very different culture and way of working. Both will also be required to provide advice and give presentations on the twinning subject matter to senior staff in the water utility and, as such, will be on their mettle. This is an excellent experience for any up-and- coming staff member and will provide a breadth to their outlook and a sense of responsibility not available via any other means. Twinning can also be a way of recharging the batteries of highly experienced staff who are reaching the end of their working careers but have a little more time to go. CWW's experience is that these people find the venture exhilarating and very much enjoy being able to pass on to a very receptive audience all that they have learned over the many years they have worked. A new enthusiasm and renewed interest are born which can have a very beneficial effect on themselves, their peers and fellow staff back in the home office. A burst water main in Zheng Zhou, China.
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Water Journal May 2011