Many developing Asian countries face unique challenges delivering quality wastewater services. In an effort to mentor these communities and help them protect human health and the environment, a team of our employees participated in information sharing through the Water Operators Partnership (WOP) that supports improved sanitation in Mongolia. The partnership is financially sponsored by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) with funding from ADB partners including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
This partnership is the second our utility has participated in. In the 2016, our staff did a similar project with a growing utility in Dong Hoi, Vietnam where the ABD also covered expenses for the trip.
In 2017, ADB awarded a technical assistance grant to build a new wastewater treatment plant in Arvaikheer, Mongolia and address Fecal Sludge Management (FSM) for the non-sewered city areas through a pilot of improved pit latrines. This infrastructure investment was paired with a WOP program collaboration between Uvarkhangai PUSO, the local water utility in Arvaikheer, and our regional utility.
Participation in program has also proven to be an efficient way to enable our staff and managers to grow as professionals and work in areas that they have not been exposed to in their current work. Involved staff have grown their skills as trainers and mentors and are bringing this professional development back to their work to become better supervisors and leaders. The WOP has engaged staff from across our organization, some of whom have never worked together, and has allowed for closer working relationships that are a benefit to our utility as well. This experience also gives staff an opportunity to work with diverse communities, which advances their skills in equity and social justice that can be applied in our current work.
ADB staff recognize that King County has been a valuable partner – and that wastewater staff have provided expertise and mentorship that is not currently available in Mongolia. ABD has highlighted the Mongolia WOP work in this video: https://www.adb.org/news/videos/partnership-program-enhances-capacity-mongolias-water-utilities
Learn more about the Water Operators Partnership here: https://www.adb.org/publications/water-operators-partnership-program