City of Kitakyushu offers technical support for waterworks in Asia
Date: Feb 2014
Source: Highlighting Japan – by Isao Naruse
In cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the city of Kitakyushu has been sharing waterworks technology – and even water department personnel – as part of an initiative to improve water standards in various developing nations overseas.
“By enabling the supply of safe and secure water through improvements in the quality of local waterworks services, we can both eliminate the toil of manually drawing water and curtail the spread of waterborne infectious diseases,” says Hideo Ishii of the overseas projects department at the Water and Sewer Bureau of the City of Kitakyushu. He further notes that a reliable water system is a prerequisite not only for human health and sanitation but also for the stability and development of local regions and industry.
The Water and Sewer Bureau of the City of Kitakyushu has been involved in projects in Indonesia, Viet Nam and China, while its most significant achievement may be a massive waterworks development in Cambodia’s capital of Phnom Penh.
In 1993, after years of civil war and military dictatorship, a mere 25 percent of Phnom Penh’s population was served by the city’s waterworks, the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA). International support for projects, such as road maintenance and vital water supply pipeline reconstruction, was initiated in this year. And thanks to a cooperative effort from Japan, France and other nations around the globe, new water purification plants and pipelines were both constructed and maintained.
JICA and the Japanese government sent appeals related to the PPWSA to several Japanese municipalities. But as government and public order in Cambodia were unstable at the time, it was difficult to find any municipalities willing to dispatch personnel to the country. Feeling that surely someone would have to complete the task and stirred by a sense of duty, the City of Kitakyushu agreed to share its expertise and send skilled staff abroad.
The first staff member from Kitakyushu was dispatched in 1999, with transfers to the PPWSA lasting six months for each employee. With the nation still in the midst or aftermath of internal and external wars, the early days were fraught with danger. One dispatched staff member even had to flee his hotel because it was set on fire.
While Phnom Penh was blessed with brand new pipelines, there was little local knowledge as to how to maintain them. In response, Kitakyushu’s personnel provided guidance on maintaining water supply facilities and water leakage prevention.
By 2006, the percentage of people in Phnom Penh served by the PPWSA had risen meteorically to 90 percent. The period of time per day that drinkable water was available rose from 10 hours to 24 hours – and the non-revenue water rate (comprising the combined total lost due to leakage, theft, etc.) was lowered from a high of 72 percent to less than 8 percent, equal to that in developed nations. The City of Kitakyushu was awarded a medal by the Cambodian government for its meritorious contributions.
The project continues even today, with one specialist still dispatched long-term and many more placed on a short-term basis. In the future, Kitakyushu plans to join together with the international community to supply safe water to other ASEAN nations, including support to Myanmar slated to launch before the end of the 2013 fiscal year.
“As someone involved in the water service, I want to make a contribution to these initiatives, while at the same time focusing on improving the overall quality of life from both a cultural and hygienic standpoint,” says Ishii.
The people of Phnom Penh will certainly appreciate his sentiment.