04 November 2022 / Vienna, Austria
Crossing the Finish Line: IAWD's RCDN Grant Period Closes With a Proud Record
Contributed by:
Voice of the Danube
04 November 2022

After an extended 14 months run, IAWD closed its grant period under RCDN, the Regional Capacity Development Network for Water and Sanitation Services, on 15 October 2022, looking back on a proud performance record – and looking forward to a follow-up that is currently under preparation.

RCDN is a partnership of seven associations of local government units and nine associations of water utilities in six countries in the Danube region: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

The network connects local government units, water utilities, and their associations from South-East Europe, supporting collaborative efforts to develop capacities in the water and sanitation service sector. RCDN aims at improving the performance of local government units and water utilities by establishing partnerships and offering innovative, affordable, efficient capacity development products, tailored to local needs and meeting highest quality standards.

Targeting the top and middle management of local government units and water utilities, RCDN has introduced a range of capacity development formats, developing individual competences through trainings, supporting organizational development through advisory services and peer exchange, and fostering cooperation through dialogue platforms and conferences.

Support for the Regional Capacity Development Network is managed by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) on behalf of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

IAWD has participated in the network right from the start. 15 October marked the end of the current grant period which ran originally from 15 August 2021 to 15 August 2022, but was extended for organizational reasons.

We take the occasion to look both back and forward, because this grant period was rich in highlights: Addressing known deficits in cooperations between local governments and water utilities, IAWD adjusted two of the existing D-LeaP programs to fit the needs of local government representatives.

One, the Utility Benchmarking Report for Local Governments, aims at improving communication and mutual understanding, providing mayors, government representatives, decision makers and other stakeholders with compressed, easily interpretable short versions of the tried and proven Benchmarking reports created under the Utility Benchmarking Program. This approach was tested in a pilot delivery, with 12 water utilities, 9 local government units, 3 utility associations, 4 local government associations and NALAS participating in a workshop, organized in Belgrade by IAWD with support from Serbian Chamber of Commerce. Participants' feedback on the pilot report helped to develop a final version for future usage.

The second adjusted product, the Utility Governance Program, is a short version of the lately introduced Utility Management Training, adjusted for local government representatives and delivered in a condensed 3-day workshop type course that gathers local government representatives together with utility managers for a collaborative exchange to create in-depth understanding of the financial, structural, and technical needs and challenges faced by water utilities.

The RCDN grant also enabled IAWD to support two national associations, SHUKOS and SHUKALB, in the implementation of the D-LeaP program “Water Safety Planning and Crisis Management”, first delivering the program in seven utilities in Kosovo, and subsequently in three Albanian utilities, with trainers from both countries gathering afterwards in Pristina, Kosovo, for a productive exchange on planning methodology crisis management.

Furthermore, recognizing the importance of reaching out to the broad public to raise awareness of the value and importance of the water sector, IAWD has engaged an external consultant to develop a communication strategy for water services in the region covered by RCDN - Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. This awareness raising campaign will target the public, especially young people, with an informative web page, promoted by short videos in social media posts. Launch is imminent.

Other activities during the grant period included organizing and supporting mentoring and exchanges between national associations, publishing a policy paper and manual on documenting good examples of combining capacity development activities of national water utility associations with investment programs by IFIs/donors and stakeholders.

The outlook is as positive as the record, with the follow-up project RCDN+ currently in the develpoment stage. IAWD is proactively participating in the preparations. We will keep going, and going strong.