Hydro Nation: annual report 2020

Records the development of Scotland's Hydro Nation policy agenda and reports on progress since the publication of the sixth annual report in 2019.

International – Reaching Out to the World

The Hydro Nation Strategy outlines our intent to deploy the potential of Scotland’s knowledge and innovation in a global context. Hydro Nation International (HNI) describes our activity to co-ordinate and harness a range of international water-related activities across Scottish public bodies, universities and non-Governmental organisations that contribute not only to the Hydro Nation agenda but also to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals; in particular Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030). Activities completed as part of this agenda in 2019/20 include:

Hydro Nation International Centre

Announced by the Scottish Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham on World Water Day 2019 (https://www.hutton.ac.uk/news/james-hutton-institute-unveils-hydro-nation-international-centre) the Hydro Nation International Centre has been established by the James Hutton Institute (https://www.hnic.scot/), and brings together a critical mass of the Scottish water research community focussed on developing talent, promoting innovation, supporting expertise and maximising research outcomes that can be applied in any global context.

One of the largest interdisciplinary centres of its kind, the Hydro Nation International Centre provides a translational hub for the water community-of-practice. By helping commissioners and stakeholders/users of research to access the correct expertise and talent it supports innovation and impact, to the benefit of all.

It links industry, policy, research, and agencies to support economic development and good stewardship of water resources and to share best practices around the world.


The Scottish Government is committed to support work in Malawi, with the aim of making Sustainable Development Goal 6 in respect of water and wastewater provision a reality. Hydro Nation support is delivered through the programme’s contribution to the Climate Justice Fund – the Malawi Water Futures programme led by the University of Strathclyde and also through the Hydro Nation International Centre who support the Malawi Scotland Regulatory Partnership (MSRP) led by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) with a range of Scottish and Malawian partner organisations.

Climate Justice Fund (CJF) Water Futures Programme: During the past year the CJF Water Futures Programme in Malawi continued to support the Government of Malawi to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) through four main work streams;

(1) Rural Water Asset Analysis and new Urban and Peri-Urban Asset Analysis,

(2) Policy Support (NWRA),

(3) Capacity Building (mWater Training) and

(4) Research and Knowledge Exchange (SDG6 Indicators).

Working together with implementation partners BASEflow, BAWI, United Purpose, CACECOM, World Vision, and CARE, the programme continues to work within all 28 Districts in Malawi and with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development where over 300 Government of Malawi staff are involved in the collection and interpretation of data to underpin SDG6.

National stakeholder meeting in Malawi

Collection of Rural Water Supply Asset Information Across Malawi (Known as the mWater system): In December 2019 the CJF Programme completed the first National Dataset for Rural Water Supplies in Malawi and in January 2020 began the same data collection for all Urban and Peri-Urban waterpoints not managed by Malawi Water Boards. (Note: Unfortunately the completion was delayed by Covid-19 and will now be complete before end December 2020). At the National Stakeholder meeting in Malawi (photo above) Ministry staff from across Malawi and major stakeholders came together to plan the use of this first ever national asset register to support SDG6 and water resources planning.

High-Level Outcomes: Stakeholders across Malawi are gaining access to training that enables them to use the mWater Management Information System (MIS) in which a total of 120,989 unique rural water points have been identified (of which 100,240 are improved water points with asset registry data). A total of 287,052 sanitation facilities that are co-located with these water points have been mapped as potential risks of contamination (sources). A total of 10,363 co-located solid waste sites have been mapped as potential risks of contamination (sources).

The Government of Malawi mWater Task Force presented to the Joint Sector Review on the progress of a 5 year strategy to adopt the asset management approach which was developed by the CJF Programme as a new National Management Information System - including how it will be used for Water Resource Planning, regulation and enforcement.

Advancing Research and Knowledge Exchange – Automated mWater SDG6 Indicators:

The Sustainable Development goals have specific indicators that provide information on the progress towards meeting each of the Global Goals.

Survey of type of water supplies in an area located outside of Lilongwe

The CJF Water Futures Programme developed automated SDG6 indicator surveys and together with partners in Malawi are using the results to provide base-line data for communities (to household level). An area that included nearly 9,000 households located outside of Lilongwe has been fully evaluated for SDG6.1, SDG6.2a and SDG6.2b, along with detailed evaluation of the water supply service provided. There were no households with safely managed water supplies and just over half (51.2%) had basic water supplies; the remainder Limited, Unimproved or reliant on Surface Water.

Willingness to pay more for water charges if service level is enhanced, in an area located outside of Lilongwe

Interestingly, when surveyed, the majority (64.3% in graph to the right) indicated they were willing to pay more for water charges if the service level was to be enhanced. This is an example of how the Water Point Data combined with detailed SDG6 information can inform donor investment strategies. There is a knowledge exchange focus to share and train other INGO’s on the use and application of the methods developed at Strathclyde to target investment needs and strategies for those most at need and at risk.

Malawi Scotland Regulatory Partnership (MSRP): SEPA continues to work with Hydro Nation to support the Government of Malawi (GoM) as it looks to empower key regulatory institutions aiming to protect Malawi’s water resources and environment.

Phase 1 of the MSRP is now complete and resulted in the development of a roadmap to operationalise Malawi’s National Water Resources Authority (NWRA). Entering Phase 2, the MSRP has continued to evolve and develop a knowledge exchange, offering further opportunities for collaboration between Malawi and Scotland.

Phase 2 saw the welcome collaboration with the James Hutton Institute (JHI), bringing wider expertise in agriculture and land use/natural resource management to the Partnership. Throughout this phase, the JHI team engaged with Malawi’s agricultural sector, helping contextualise key challenges facing the NWRA as it seeks to improve compliance with water laws among the agriculture stakeholder community.

SEPA training workshop with EAD, Lilongwe, March 2020
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) training workshop with Environmental Affairs Department (EAD), Lilongwe, March 2020

The MSRP is now working closely with the GoM’s Environmental Affairs Department (EAD) to support the operationalising of the newly announced Malawi Environment Protection Authority (MEPA), nurturing the key links with the NWRA and promoting regulatory excellence and best practice towards improving environmental protection, water management and compliance.

In early 2020, SEPA representatives travelled to Malawi to deliver a series of sessions with the newly appointed non-executive Board of MEPA and senior officials from the EAD. These sessions covered the principles of transparent regulation and enforcement, policy requirements and good governance, and the visit provided the opportunity to build further relationships across the Partnership.

Economic Regulation support and engagement

The Scottish approach to regulation of a public-sector entity continues to be recognised as an innovative model by governments, companies, academics and other commentators in the rest of the UK and beyond.

Following a successful project to strengthen economic and environmental regulation in Romania, the Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS) has started a collaborative project with the New Zealand Government, and with two of the country’s water companies – Wellington Water and Watercare (Auckland). As part of this work, the two companies asked WICS to explore the extent to which it would be possible to provide the requisite information to pursue effective reform of the industry. WICS provided strategic and analytical support, based on its own experience and the horizon scanning of best practice that it undertakes. WICS is building on this work with a further project to support the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs to undertake a strategic analysis and estimation of the economic benefits from aggregation of water service delivery entities in New Zealand.

WICS is also acting as a secondary expert as part of a consortium that is providing support to strengthen economic regulation for the Romanian Public Services Regulatory Authority (ANRSC), with a project that is due to complete in 2021.

Scottish Water Horizons (SWH)

Scottish Water International is now fully integrated into Scottish Water Horizons. The primary purpose of Horizons’ international activities is to develop business opportunities abroad in line with the Scottish Government’s Hydro Nation ambitions. Key highlights include:

Australia: Horizons has been continuing to provide expert advice and support to South Australia (SA) Water. Horizons was successful in winning a long term Programme Management Advisory Service that will provide specialist support to SA Water via a joint venture between KBR and Aurecon to transform the delivery of their Capital Investment Programme. The programme started in July 2020 with the potential for an additional 4 years to June 2024. Over the past year, Horizons has assisted SA Water in transition planning between investment periods, developed a risk-management framework and supported recovery planning for COVID-19. In the coming year, Horizons will provide development of a Quality Management Plan.

New Zealand: In partnership with WICS, Scottish Water is providing advice into the Three Waters Reform Programme, a new drinking water regulatory framework, with oversight on other services.

Jersey Water: Horizons has assisted Jersey Water to ensure the safety of drinking water on the island by using a risk assessment and risk management approach through the provision of Scottish Water tools and knowledge on drinking water safety plans. The plans have been issued but the training of Jersey Water employees was delayed due to the pandemic.


Email: waterindustry@gov.scot

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