Regional Conference on Water Governance: Sharing Experiences between OECD and Arab Countries


Objectives | Discussions and Outcomes

Documentation | Presentations | Background Documents


Mr Féthi Bdira, Mr Maurizio Bonvia, Mr Abederrazek Daaloul, Mr Martin Forst


The OECD and the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture held a high-level Regional Conference on governance reforms in the water sector on 8-9 July 2009 in Tunis, Tunisia. Invited experts from Arab and OECD countries participated and exchanged experiences.

Discussions were organised around four sessions which essentially concentrated on the following aspects of water governance:

  • the coherence of public water policies
  • the modalities of the implementation of these policies
  • the establishment of partnerships with the private sector, which includes the participation of citizens and civil society




The objectives of discussions were to answer the following questions:

  • How can sectoral approaches be overcome in order to ensure coherence in the management of water and respond to regulatory complexity in a domain where interdependency between the environmental, urbanisation, energy and alimentary sufficiency issues is significant? 
  • How can continuous funding be guaranteed in a sector where costs impact heavily on the public budget, particularly local ones, and may discourage discerning investors? 
  • How can a pertinent territorial approach be implemented from the point of view of both local specificities and an overall coherence? What role should consultation mechanisms and citizen participation play?


Discussions and Outcomes


Session 1: Keynote speeches on the challenges of water governance in the MENA region and OECD countries

This first session, emphasis was placed on the modalities for integrated management of water within the national administration, and coordination instruments that can balance the splitting of roles and responsibilities between ministries and decision-makers to ensure the coherence of water related policies in the field of strategic planning and regulation.

Participants agreed that the achievements obtained, several challenges still lie ahead and improving water governance is a top priority due to: 

  • the lack of effective operational strategies, 
  • weak policy implementation and law enforcement, 
  • weak monitoring and assessment at the national and local level;
  • limited technical, management and implementation capabilities,
  • financial constraints.

Delegates insisted on the role of government and other stakeholders in the recent shift from the management of supply to the management of demand in the MENA region. The experiences of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Spain, France, Morocco and Turkey demonstrated the diversity of challenges linked to water management, ranging from the lack of control over water resources (PNA), to severe shortage periods and regional disparities (Tunisia, Morocco) to the need for better coordination across levels of governments (Spain, France).


Session 2: How to promote a sustainable water management approach: agencies’ role and nature

This session determined to what extent the agencies assigned to the water sector could contribute to the reconciliation of hydrological and environmental views with the national and sub national administrative ones. The examples of river basin organisation in Mediterranean countries stressed the diversity of existing agencies as well as their place in the institutional national or supranational arrangements.

In some cases, such as France (Agence Adour-Garonne) and Spain (Confederación hydrográfica del Ebro), agencies were considered as useful when it came to solving the possible fragmentation of roles and responsibilities at the local level. In other cases, policy makers were reluctant to establish them, such as in Tunisia for instance were river basin organisation does not appear to be the best model to manage water resources because of natural disparities among regions.

Some mechanisms for vertical coordination were identified in countries like France, where the comité de bassin takes into account the territorial nature of water service delivery, or Morocco where the Agences de basins Hydrauliques and Commissions Préfectorales et Provinciales de l’eau showed positive results in creating a framework for consultation, planning and regulation of water resources.


Sessions 3A and 3B: How to promote an effective approach to the management of water through the establishment of partnerships with the private sector

These sessions explored the types of collaboration with the private sector and key governance issues in this field. Discussions allowed for best practices to emerge in terms of setting an effective and credible institutional framework and analyzing how regulatory consistency, within a multi-level framework, could be ensured and improved.

Public ownership and management in the water sector remain predominant but most countries have had some experience with the private sector as it is one instrument among others to bridge the “funding gap” that usually characterizes the water sector. The OECD Checklist for Public Action was presented as a tool for policy dialogue to harness private sector contributions more effectively.

Five major regulatory challenges were identified: 

  • the financial cost of setting regulatory agencies and ensuring their viability (financing gap),
  • the technical expertise and competences of their staff (capacity gap),
  • their autonomy and independence from the executive power,
  • the asymmetry of information between the regulator and the operator (information gap),
  • citizens’ participation in regulatory agencies.

Session 4: Development of mechanisms at the local level: citizen participation

Participants agreed that the creation of local expertise in the water sector also has to involve the civil society. Discussions provided examples of how communication, education and awareness could be encouraged at local level to promote sustainable management of water resources.  Some citizen groups were identified as leaders in capacity building at local level, such as women in the case of Tunisia, young generations and farmers in the case of Morocco. Interesting experiences involving the consultation of actual users of public services were also discussed, based on an initiative (Avis citoyen) of the French Institute for PPP (Institut de la Gestion Déléguée).




Agenda (English - PDF 526KBFrench - PDF 705KBArabic - PDF 255KB)

List of Participants - PDF 224KB




Session 1: Introductory Session
The challenges of water governance in the MENA region and in OECD countries


  • Mr. Mekki HAMZA, Director General for Water Resources, Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, Tunisia (French - PDF 2,860KB)
  • Mrs. Claire CHARBIT, Head of unit, Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate, OECD (French - PDF 225KB)

Session 2: How to promote a sustainable water management approach: agencies’ role and nature

  • Mrs. Anthi BROUMA, Programme Officer, Global Water Partnership – Med (English - PDF 2,542KB)
  • Mr. Bernard HYPOLITE, Head of service, Agence de bassin Adour-Garonne, France (French - PDF 2,517KB)
  • Mr. Mohamed HACHIMI, Head of service, Secretary of State of Water and Environment, Morocco (French - PDF 4,223KB)
  • Mr. Juan Manuel ARNAL LIZARRAGA, Chief of Cabinet, Confederación Hidrográfica del Ebro, Spain (French - PDF 3,017KB)
  • Mr. Alessandro MAZZEI, Director of an Ambito Territoriale Ottimale (Tuscany), Italy (English - PDF 1,612KB)


Session 3A : How to promote an effective approach to the management of water through the establishment of partnerships with the private sector

  • Mrs. Céline KAUFFMANN, Economist/Project Manager, OECD (English - PDF 1,332KB)
  • Mr. Olivier GILBERT, Director of sustainable development, Veolia Water AMI (French - PDF 1,269KB)
  • Mr. Hidayet ATASOY, Director General, Bank of Provinces, Turkey (English - PDF 401KB)
  • Mr. Bassel SHOIRA, Project Manager (Utilities Sector), PPP Unit, Egypt (English - PDF 373KB)
  • Mrs. Hela CHEIKHROUHOU, Manager, Private Sector Department, African Development Bank  (English - PDF 143KB)


Session 3B: How to promote an effective approach to the management of water through the establishment of partnerships with the private sector

  • Mrs. Aziza AKHMOUCH, Policy Analyst, OECD (French - PDF 456KB)
  • Mr. Mohamed HASSEN, Director of technical Regulation, EWRA, Egypt (English - PDF 4,109KB)
  • Mr Khalil ATTIA, Chief Executive Officer of ONAS (Office National d’Assainissement), Tunisia (French - PDF 5,382KB)
  • Mr Noureddine ZIDI, Director of Studies & Mr Adnane BOUBAKER: Director of Sub-contracting, SONEDE, Tunisia (French - PDF 377KB)
  • Mrs. Clarissa VITIELLO, Project Manager, SEEAL, Algeria (French - PDF 1,666KB)
  • Mrs. Despina TOMADAKI, Head of Financial Services, PPP Unit, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Greece (English - PDF 729KB)


Session 4: Development of mechanisms at the local level: citizen participation

  • Mr. Belabbès BELMAMOUN, Manager, department of Cooperation and communication, Office National d’Eau Potable (ONEP), Morocco (French - PDF 1,448KB)
  • Mr. Yusef HATIRA, Project Coordinator, Centre for Arab Women Training and Research (CAWTAR), Tunisia (English - PDF 1,369KB)
  • Mrs. Marie-Joelle KODJOVI, Chargée de mission, Institut de la Gestion déléguée, France (French - PDF 2,542KB)


Background Documents


Policy Briefs



Related Documents