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Water Leaders Award

For the most dramatic performance improvement in a water utility in the developing world in 2019. See the full shortlist showreel here.

Nyewasco, Kenya

What is it?

The Nyeri Water and Sanitation Company, otherwise known as Nyewasco, is the water and wastewater service provider for the city of Nyeri in Kenya. It was established in 1997 and now serves around 800,000 people.

What has it done?

Nyewasco raced ahead in 2019 to become Kenya’s leader in utility performance, both providing a better service to the local community of Nyeri and reducing operational waste while building overall efficiency. Nyewasco’s innovations and performance are quickly becoming the gold standard for sub-Saharan water services, with a number of others looking to Nyeri for guidance. The utility is now coaching other utilities from the region utilities such as the Malawian Central Region Water Board in efficient billing, customer service, renewable energy and mapping.

What makes it special?

Nyewasco’s operational performance has been head and shoulders above other water utilities in the country, bringing non-revenue water levels down to just 16% in 2019, compared to the national average of 41%.

Nyewasco extended its successful urban coverage into low income areas and informal settlements in 2019 by radically rethinking its customer service charter and making a ‘pro-poor policy’ central to its decision-making strategy.


The utility’s steep upward trajectory with regards to performance is reflected by its booming bankability. Nyewasco was one of only three utilities – out of Kenya’s 72 – to be given a clean bill of health in the 2019 national audit, showing it has effective utilisation of public funds and best management practices at its very heart.


Obras Sanitarias Mar del Plata-Batán, Argentina

What is it?

Obras Sanitarias Mar del Plata-Batán (OSSE) is the municipal water utility operating in Mar del Plata, Argentina, providing water, wastewater and rainwater capture services to more than 600,000 people.

What has it done?

OSSE dramatically increased its service area over the last year, bringing clean safe water to the city of Mar del Plata, and contributing to its efforts in meeting Sustainable Development Goal 6 targets for water and sanitation. The utility’s achievements in improving its performance and services are even more dramatic when seen in light of the many recent challenges that OSSE has overcome, such as high temperatures driving scarcity, combined with increasing water demand.

What makes it special?

OSSE completed major network extensions in 2019, including upgrades that now provide 10 hours of water reserve, a crucial development in an area where shortages can be a risk. The works completed mean the area now has 97% coverage for both water and wastewater services, significantly improving the living conditions of the local population. Meanwhile . The improvements to infrastructure have significantly reduced maintenance costs and driven energy efficiency for the utility.

The utility made major breakthroughs on key water projects in 2019. It completed its Acueducto Oeste System programme, a project which included 74 wells which increase water production, as well as the extension of the Mario Bravo Supply Center, adding further to the region’s reserve capacity.


On top of this, the utility made major operational improvements at the Talcahuano Water Lift Station which is the primary link to the Southern Aqueduct groundwater system. The upgrades extended the life of the station by at least 30 years and means it now operates automatically, with equipment that mean supply varies only according to the demands of the water distribution network, eliminating wastage.