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Johannesburg, 25 Sept 09

Nine African water utilities were introduced to Water Safety Planning during a five-day training in Johannesburg from the 21st to 25th of September.

The workshop, which took place as part of the Global Water Operators' Partnerships Alliance capacity building activities, was hosted by Rand Water in Johannesburg and co-organized by Cap Net and UN-HABITAT, with experts sent by the Moroccan Water Utility, ONEP, the International Water Association (IWA) and the University of Minho in Portugal. The training built on a Water Safety Planning Manual developed by the World Health Organisation, together with IWA.

Water Safety planning is about helping water operators' plan to protect their upstream water supply sources. WSPs involve identifying and reducing all controllable risks to water quality and quantity in the source cathcments. For most of the participants, the concept of water safety planning was totally new, however by the end of the training, all were able to present draft Water Safety Plans, and to envisage the steps requited to implement them on the ground.

Exchange between utilities throughout the training were thought-provoking; either they presented interesting challenges to the group or shared their own experience in specific areas where they performed well. The format of the course proved to be effective: presentations by modules based on the WHO manual, case-studies and open discussions, then team work for drafting the WSP module by module. Participants were highly motivated for the follow-up through partnerships or peer-support.

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