During her internship as a student of our program in 2014-15, former student Lucia Wright began researching a case study of safe water access in Hanoi. Now, her new paper documents how this case study led by GWOPA has not only seen improved water service delivery for the urban poor in Vietnam but also sustained results over time.

How water partnerships help improve access to safe water for the urban poor

UN-Habitat’s initiative Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) encourages knowledge transfer amongst water utilities with the aim of improving access to safe water in developing countries. This latest case study in the coastal city of Da Nang shows that the partnership between the Dutch company, VEI, and the Vietnamese water utility, Da Nang Water Supply Company (Dawaco) has improved water provision in the city’s urban areas.

As Lucia details in her latest article, progress was made in reducing the percentage of water losses due to leakages or illegal connections, and improving the local water supply company’s performance. The value of these water operators’ partnerships (also known as (WOPs) is that they not only improve the efficiency of water utilities, but also prioritize social goals such as inclusiveness and water affordability for the urban poor. The VEI-Dawaco case is one of over 220 partnerships which GWOPA has registered in their database.

Lucia Wright with engineer at Cau Do water treatment plant

“Research can also have an impact outside of academia”

Interested in how urban typologies shape inequalities in water access, Lucia began her research of water accessibility in Vietnam in the summer of 2014, and in 2016 coauthored her first paper Fragmented Landscapes of Water Supply in Suburban Hanoi while pursuing a PhD at Technische Universität Darmstadt. What began with her internship at GWOPA in 2015 eventually became a formal collaboration with the organization in 2017 in parallel to her doctoral studies.

“My on-going cooperation with GWOPA since 2015 allowed me to carry out the field study in Da Nang, Vietnam, and develop two other projects related to diagnostic tools for water utilities in collaboration with UNESCO-IHE and the construction of GWOPA’s official water operators’ partnership database. Besides building a critical insight to urban planning and development studies, this collaboration allowed me to explore strategies that support access to safe water in vulnerable areas. At the end of the day, it is extremely relevant to me that the work carried out as a researcher can also have an impact outside of academia.”

Above: Lucía Wright with staff at Dawaco headquarters

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