February 11, 2022 AfricaSDGs

AquaRating supports utility’s journey to efficiency in Sierra Leone

Guma Valley Dam Water Company Aquarating IWA

AquaRating is an international rating system for water and sanitation utilities developed by the InterAmerican Development Bank and the International Water Association. AquaRating focuses on the challenges faced by water and sanitation utilities, evaluating their performance through indicators and management practices, establishing an international standard, and relying on information verified by independent auditors. Since its conception in 2008, AquaRating has been adopted by 114 companies in 29 countries worldwide.

In 2016, Guma Valey Water Company (GVWC) in Sierra Leone was the first utility in Africa to adopt AquaRating. It is also the first African utility to have completed the AquaRating cycle so far from 2016 to 2020, making it possible to release a report analysing the impact of the system and reliably assess its evolution throughout time. GVWC’s AquaRating journey was sponsored and funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

“AquaRating has proven to be an effective system as a comprehensive and reliable diagnostic tool for the performance and management of a utility providing water and sanitation services, due to its ability to establish a baseline and reference for tasks such as planning and monitoring but it represents much more than that” comments Francisco Cubillo, co-author of AquaRating and IWA Fellow.

Since 2015, opportunities for improvement were identified in all management areas and priority actions were recommended to Guma Valley Water Company. The newly released report shows that the AquaRating application has yielded promising results both in terms of process improvements and better management practices against a set of KPIs.

In particular, improvements were clearly notable in the area of ‘Quality of Services Provided’ where the rating score doubled, while ‘Attention to the User’ saw its rating score increase by 5 times. For what concerns ‘Practices of Investment Planning’, the original value has been tripled. In ‘Operation of the Supply and Distribution Systems’, a low rating was achieved, but it nonetheless shows a great improvement compared to 2015.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of this journey is the improvement in ‘Business Management Policies and Techniques’ which obtained a rating of 50.05 out of 100, which is the highest value among all the companies which have adopted AquaRating in Africa, and it is an above the average rating worldwide! There has been improvement in the areas of ‘Financial Sustainability’ and ‘Access to Service’. Other areas of evaluation have reflected an improvement with a more modest increase in value.

Maada S. Kpenge, Managing Director at Guma Valley Water Company adds: “Guma Valley has made tremendous progress in recent years, including the development of new systems and processes, capacity building activities, and more focus on planning. AquaRating is an excellent tool which offers exceptional training to utility staff, and a wide catalogue of good practices. I am pleased to acknowledge that this progress is reflected in the evaluation.”

The journey at Guma Valley is an international leading example for the best use of the AquaRating tools.

“In 2015 Sierra Leone became the first country in Africa to sign up for the AquaRating certification process with IWA and MCC’s support. As such Sierra Leone was a ‘test’ country. We are currently implementing AquaRating in Mongolia and planning to implement it in Timor Leste and we are using the assessments from the Guma Valley experience to help formulate our programmes. Learning from the assessment is essential to understand what these changes and improvements in the utility can be attributed to, and how useful the implementation of the AquaRating system has been for the utility” – comments David Thirkill, Threshold Program Lead at the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

AquaRating is constantly evolving to help improve water and sanitation services around the world. The system now includes new areas of investigation which are gaining increasing attention in the industry, such as climate change response, water loss mitigation, business integrity, innovation policies and risk assessment strategies for business continuity.

Sessions about AquaRating will be held at the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition in Copenhagen, Denmark (11-15 September 2022) where you will be able to learn more about the system and its application.

Later this year, AquaRating will conduct a re-certification process in Mongolia and a new certification process in Timor-Leste. Visit aquarating.org for further updates.

For any AquaRating related queries, please contact:

Carlos Diaz, IWA Strategic Programmes & Engagement Manager