Suriname, South America, 04 Jan 2017

Tailor Made Training on Water Safety Plans in Suriname

The Suriname Water Company (SWM) recently started the implementation of Water Safety Plans (WSPs). The inception phase has included training by Dr. Giuliana Ferrero of UNESCO-IHE and Mr. Harold van den Berg of the Dutch National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) delivered from 29 November to 8 December 2016.

Water supply in Suriname

In Suriname, a total of 60 water supply systems exist, of which 22 systems use surface water and 38 use groundwater. The Suriname Water Company (SWM) is now in charge of operating 33 water supply systems in the coastal area, but will be responsible for the water supply in the whole coastal area by 2024, including the utilities which are now operated by the Ministry of Natural Resources. SWM is working pro-actively in order to reach the highest standards for the service provided to its customers. 

Water safety plans

A Water Safety Plan (WSP) is a risk assessment and risk management framework developed by the World Health Organization; this approach encompasses all the steps in water supply from catchment to consumers, to ensure the safety of drinking water. In total a WSP consists of 11 steps, the main steps include system description, identification of hazards and hazardous events that can affect the safety of the water supply, assessment of the corresponding risks, validation of the control measures in place, definition of an improvement plan and demonstration that the system is consistently safe.

From training to practice

The training has been branded “from training to practice” because it was designed for ensuring the sustainable implementation of WSPs beyond the completion of training. It complemented training held in 2015 (NFP-TM. 15/176 SUR), when participants worked on the first steps of a WSP, the system assessment and hazard identification for two different water supply systems (Republiek and WK Plein).

During the first part of this year’s training, SWM staff were trained on the last steps of a WSP, monitoring practices and management and communication, through interactive lectures and exercises. Participants drafted operational monitoring and verification plans specific for the two plants, as well as a generic list of supporting programmes and management procedures that could be applied to WSP developed for any of the utilities managed by SWM. Participants reflected on how and when to revise the newly developed WSPs. In the second part of the training, participants gained ‘hands-on’ experience while developing four new WSPs with the support of the trainers.

The training was sponsored by EP-NUFFIC, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.