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Water Leaders Award: Shortlist

For the most dramatic performance improvement in a water utility in the developing world in 2019.

Shortlisted Nominees


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.


Office National De l’Assainissement du Senegal

What is it?

The national sanitation utility of Senegal. It serves more than 15 million people over an area of almost 200,000km2.

What has it done?

Office National De l’Assainissement du Senegal (ONAS) was the driving force behind major sanitation improvements nationwide in 2019. Decentralised wastewater treatement options, combined with the development of traditional centralised facilities, fostered an efficient circular ecomony for the utility and local communities, laying the foundations for scaling up toward even greater impact in the years to come.

What makes it special?

ONAS made tailored plans for both rural and urban communities a priority in 2019 in an effort to ensure sanitation for all is achieved in the fastest and most efficient way. Across the country, the number of sanitation connections increased by 375% in the past year, and this figure is projected to increase this by another 117% in 2020.

Driving the successful increase in sanitation in Senegal was the construction of a new fecal sludge treatment plant and the introduction of an ‘omni processor unit’.


The 400m3/d unit has not only increased sanitary living conditions, but contributed to the circular economy through the generation of electricity and production of recyclable ash.

three new models of innovative toilets which are tailored for flood zones. These new models have reduced the average cost of pit emptying in the country from $51 to $38. By combining community involvement and market-leading technology with local application, the utility is rapidly becoming a model for disruptive innovation in the water and sanitation sector, improving and integrating the non-sewered sanitation value chain.


Office National de l’Eau et de l’Assainissement du Burkina Faso

What is it?

ONEA, the Office National De l’Eau et de l’Assainissement Du Burkina Faso, is the national water utility of Burkina Faso, providing water and sanitation services to the country’s population of more than 18 million.

What has it done?

Overcoming the extreme challenges which Burkina Faso faced last year, such as chronic drought and humanitarian challenges, the national utility has strove to expand its services and increase service reliability across the country. Against the odds, ONEA is improving the lives of millions of people through the increased provision of clean safe water services.

What makes it special?

ONEA kickstarted the implemented of its 2019-20 Water Supply and Sanitation Program (PAEA) to improve access to drinking water and sanitation in urban and rural areas. The programme includes constructions of 300 boreholes, including a dozen high-speed boreholes already under way to supply drinking water in previously underserved areas.

The utility completed the construction of its second major treatment plant and laid new pipes to connect Ziga and Ouagadougou, building greater resilience into national-level water security.


While the demand gap that led to the construction of the plant was estimated at 59,922,500 m3/year, the utility has built in extra capacity (up to 95,690,000 m3/year) to hedge the risk of continued or even more extreme water scarcity.

Distribution systems were strengthened between the two major branches of the utility in the country’s northern and southern regions. Significant amounts of pumping reinforcement equipment were installed in order to integrate previously isolated systems, a move that has generated greater resilience against localised water scarcity and enhanced clean, safe water access for thousands of residents.


The Global Water Awards 2020 is proudly sponsored by:

Dupont Water Solutions

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