Reversing the tide with quality urban infrastructure assets

Water supply and sanitation in Mozambique faces many challenges, especially in urban areas where 36 per cent of the population lives. While urban areas are growing rapidly, water quality and services are not keeping pace. 

Many live without sufficient access to basic water supply and sanitation. According to the UNICEF, total water and sanitation cover has increased to 21 per cent of the population, affecting health and wellbeing.

Mauro Peter Henrique Chissano says infrastructure asset management (IAM) is critical to reversing the tide, especially since Mozambique has one of the highest annual population growth rates in the world and progress against the Government’s goals for 2015 to 2019 is insufficient. 

Mauro enriched his understanding of IAM by supplementing his Australian Master of Urban and Regional Planning with an Australia Awards Public-Private Infrastructure Partnerships (PPIPs) short course in Brisbane, Queensland (2017). 

‘I wanted to develop innovative approaches for managing infrastructure assets through PPIPs to help deal with infrastructure dilapidation in Mozambique,’ says Mauro. 

‘Such dilapidation was leading to underperforming infrastructure, increasing operational costs and decreasing the level of services in urban areas. This is despite Government and partners working to improve access, quality, performance and sustainability of services.’ 

As the IAM Coordinator for the national Water Supply Investment and Asset Holding Fund (FIPAG) at South Region, Mauro says challenges include water services being provided by several small-scale providers and not being supported by greater quality water infrastructure. 

FIPAG is an autonomous public sector entity that acts as a fund for urban water supply service to four regions in Mozambique.

Lack of human and financial resources make it difficult to keep pace with increasing demand for water infrastructure services with climate change exacerbating continuity and efficiency.

‘Drought severely reduces water levels, for example,’ says Mauro, ‘and top soil erosion exposes and damages water reticulation systems.’

Mauro uses good practice IAM and PPIP principles to coordinate water asset management activities in the South Region’s municipalities, to maximise efficiency and sustainability of services.

 When he returned to Mozambique after studying in Australia, Mauro had major input into the Government’s Delegated Management Framework for FIPAG, which is gradually transferring water supply systems to a larger number of local private operators.

‘We work hard to efficiently manage public investments in the urban water sector,’ says Mauro. ‘We develop and implement investment plans and supervise and control operations. The work indirectly impacts on better living conditions for the approximately 400,000 water consumers across the South Region.’ 

Mauro says the skills and knowledge he gained in Australia were invaluable. ‘Australia is one country that is at the forefront of IAM and it has successfully implemented projects countrywide,’ he says. ‘The PPIP short course really built my understanding of IAM principles.’ 

IAM assists decision makers to balance risk, cost and performance throughout an asset’s lifecycle. Through IAM, community-based organisations participate in implementing water supply-related programs, providing communities with better water services. 

IAM also supports Mozambique to achieve several Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 6, ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. 

Mauro contributed to the new Global Model for Infrastructure Asset Management which is seeing IAM implemented across FIPAG’s four regions and their respective local water operators. 

In Mauro’s region, IAM is being implemented in Chokwe, Inhambane, Maxixe and Xai-Xai. Work includes developing professional relationships and sharing IAM information and knowledge with experts from main project partner, Águas de Portugal Internacional, an organisation based in Portugal that works internationally in the environmental sector. 

Many achievements have emerged since IAM become a focus in FIPAG in 2012. Strategic documents have been produced on IAM, including how and where it can be positioned in the future and the steps required to get there. International links have been established, with field visits, training sessions and workshops held in Mozambique, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain to build IAM capacity with technical personnel and some senior managers across FIPAG.    

Feature from Alumni News Volume 27. Click here for full Alumni News.

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