Elton: “The first staff members to be trained were HR managers and a few first-line managers. The participating managers learned to look at their own management style from a different perspective and how to motivate their own staff to perform better. We asked for feedback after the training, which we immediately used to revise the training materials for the next group of participants, namely the operational directors and regional coordinators. I also learned a lot myself, for example about the importance of knowing how to lead a team. I learned that good leaders focus on the common good by raising individual potential, and that leadership can be taught. With this knowledge, I was able to improve the way I deal with the department heads of the various Operational Areas, especially in terms of communication and giving feedback.” Wilco: “Having worked with FIPAG for over ten years now, I can say that sharing of knowledge becomes possible as trust grows, and trust grows over time. The long-term commitment between VEI and FIPAG is key in the sharing of knowledge. This training programme is a good example.”
WILCO VAN DER WAL and ELTON BEIRÃO (Resident Manager and HR Coordinator)
What On-the-job knowledge-sharing and organised HR training Where Water operator FIPAG, Mozambique
In partnership with the Mozambican asset holding and investment fund (Fipag) and the Dutch ministry of development cooperation, VEI offers technical and management assistance to Fipag’s cities regarding drinking water infrastructure since 2004. Fipag supplies drinking water in the 21 major cities of Mozambique.
Wilco: “My colleague Elton Beirão is HR coordinator with drinking water company FIPAG. While sharing a room at the office, we developed a personal relationship. We discuss such issues as commitment, responsibility, performance management, and leadership. The in-depth conversations we had and the sharing of my own experiences pertaining to people and HR was a learning process in and of itself for both Elton and myself. It also formed the basis for this training.”
Elton: “At FIPAG, we could use some help with HR-related matters. Personally, I am interested in learning more about people and performance management. I think performance management is the best way for plans and activities to be defined in a transparent way. For a company, this is the key to success.” Wilco: “I discussed our ideas with Stefan Hemmer, a Vitens colleague with theoretical and practical experience. Together, we developed a training programme for FIPAG’s staff. We had to take into consideration the unruly reality of implementing knowledge in Mozambique, with its different communication and management styles. People here sometimes find it hard to take responsibility. In the exploratory work Elton and I did, we talked about this issue extensively. We also discussed the importance of performance plans for organisations. These involve defining goals and objectives at the beginning of the year, monitoring progress halfway through the year, and conducting evaluations at year’s end. In the Netherlands, such performance plans are common, but in Mozambique they are rarely implemented.”
‘Trust is essential for sharing knowledge with another’. Confidence of the learning party in the intent, knowledge and experience of the person standing opposite him/her. Trust is something you must earn, it doesn’t just appear out of the blue. To acquire it, you have to work together, achieve success together and learn together. A bond of trust really does grow with the years.
“I am delighted to present to you this Annual Report. It describes our progress during 2016 in reaching our mission to impact universal and sustainable water services management, by unlocking the strengths of the Dutch water companies. We made this Annual Report around the notion of ‘people’. People are, in the end, the consumers of more and better drinking water due to VEI’s involvement. People are the employees of partner water operators abroad that are supported to deliver universal and sustainable water service. And people are the employees from the Dutch water companies that want to share their knowledge and skills. In this Annual Report we will portray a variety of people making up the success of VEI and her partners. Partners like Mr. Joseph Theuri, who is the Managing Director of the water operator in Naivasha, Kenia. He, with his staff and in partnership with VEI over the last 4 years, has been able to establish a turn around in his company achieving cost recovery this year from a baseline level of 59% in 2012, doubling the number of connections, and the availability of water for the people. Our activities abroad are based on our belief in partnerships with local water operators. These partnerships go further than sending our knowledge in a one-way manner. Mutual respect, transparency and trust are at the core of these partnerships. The partnerships of VEI and local water operators are for the longer term and that makes mutual learning efficient and effective. Institutions, such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, underscore our vision that through our long term partnerships, we truly ensure sustainable impact. “Operator to operator partnerships are complementary to our interventions aimed to achieve universal sustainable water services,” is something the World Bank says about us. And “VEI supports water operators over a longer period of time, and that gives an added value to the work done by others – whether it concerns advice, technical support or financial support.” The six Dutch water companies that make VEI what it is, provide water to no less than 13.5 million people in the Netherlands. This impressive fact reflects the level of trust that VEI receives from the Dutch water sector, and provides the credibility to gain trust from the worldwide water sector. The employees of these six Dutch companies are experts in the field of ensuring continuous confidence in a product that is vital for humans. Through their dedication to the work in the partnerships that VEI has with other companies, each of them makes daily contributions to the mission of VEI: universal and sustainable water services. We hope you enjoy reading our Annual Report and we welcome your feedback.”
Is er water en zo ja, hoe vaak en hoe lang per dag? En wat is de kwaliteit van dit water? Wordt er 24/7 water geleverd?
Hoe is het gesteld met het financiële systeem dat nodig is om de functionaliteit van de geïnvesteerde infrastructuur te garanderen? Is er geld beschikbaar voor beheer en onderhoud?
In hoeverre zijn er technische systemen gekozen om functionaliteit nu en in de toekomst te waarborgen? Dit gaat over het gebruik van materialen, maar ook over de mogelijkheden van onderhoud en beheer.
Dit gaat over de sociale impact van het project. Zorgt het project bijvoorbeeld voor eerlijke kansen op het gebied van arm en rijk en van gender? Bij de water-projecten wordt dit gemeten aan de hand van het geschatte aantal huidige gebruikers; bij sanitatie-projecten is gekeken naar het geschatte aantal huidige gebruikers en naar gedrag (handenwassen, toiletten schoonmaken, etc.).
en -Kwaliteit
Betreft de lokale institutionele capaciteit die nodig is om de functionaliteit op de lange termijn te waarborgen. Bijvoorbeeld: is er een lokaal bedrijf dat verantwoordelijk is voor onderhoud van de faciliteiten?
Dit gaat in op de vraag of het functioneren van het project wordt beïnvloed door overstromingen of droogte, tijdens de projectperiode maar ook voor de langere termijn.
Concept and design: Remke Beckers Development and interactive design: Casu Media Text: HNV Communicatie Photography: VEI and Masja Stolk
VITENS EVIDES INTERNATIONAL P.O. Box 1205 8001 BE Zwolle, The Netherlands www.vitensevidesinternational.com
The Netherlands has a long water history. During the past 160 years Dutch water companies have established themselves as best-in-class water providers. This achievement directly reflects the competence and expertise of the Dutch drinking water companies. Six of these companies - Vitens, Evides Waterbedrijf, WML, Watercompany Groningen, PWN and Brabant Water – share their expertise via VEI (Vitens Evides International BV) with water authorities around the world. Through VEI, they are committed to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 of the United Nations: access to water and sanitation for all. With a joint workforce of 3,602 employees, a distribution network that extends for more than 102,000 kilometers, almost 6.5 million connections and a delivery capacity of 887 million m3 of tap water each year in the Netherlands, they have extensive experience and resources at their disposal. Non-profit vehicle VEI is the non-profit vehicle for the six Dutch water companies in achieving their shared objective. VEI focuses on providing support for water operators in Africa, Asia and South America, which face immense challenges like an increasing water demand, water quality problems, water shortages and climate change. VEI works together with these water operators to expand their capabilities and helps them professionalise their operations by actively sharing long-standing Dutch expertise and experience. For example, by improving basic operations such as Non Revenue Water (hereafter: NRW) management and water operations, by setting up stable financial procedures or by creating a better infrastructure. Kick-starter for economic development Several donors provide additional financial backing for VEI’s partnerships. The combination of additional investment and peer-to-peer support at operational level acts as a kick-starter for local economic development and growth. On the spot assistance VEI arranges ‘on the spot’ assistance by deploying experts employed by the Dutch water companies to the local water authority. Their job is to effectively support and train the water operators. This peer-to-peer interaction ensures that Dutch water knowledge and the wealth of operational expertise can be shared with water authorities abroad. The results are impressive: tangible change, improved operational performance and eventually universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for more people.
It is our firm conviction that everyone around the world deserves a reliable supply of high-quality tap water. As committed Dutch water companies, we embrace our responsibility to make this dream come true.
VEI signs 18-month Technical Assistance contract with Zimfund in Zimbabwe
FIPAG and VEI sign contract for another 5 years partnership
Memorandum of Agreement: VEI supports Saba in improving its operational and financial performance
The signing of a detailed partnership agreement makes clear the PEWAK project Kenya is heading from inception towards execution
Dutch water sector, including VEI, well represented at Kenya Water Week
EU assessment appreciates VEI supported benchmarking programme in Kenya
VEI kicks off the year in which it celebrates 10th year of its existence
Closing seminar to celebrate implementation of VEI project in Oromia, Ethiopia
WASA and VEI organise close-out workshop for UDDP project and WOP in Bangladesh
Workshop about resilience of water supply Ho Chi Minh City
European Union applauds VEI project in Mozambique in evaluation report
Renewal of VEI’s contract with Bonaire for another year
VEI wins 1-year WOP contract and joins forces with FIPAG in Angola
Cooperation VEI and UNESCO-IHE in the spotlights in UPDATE magazine
VEI and Brabant Water sign partnership agreement
The laboratory knowledge of our Dutch parent water companies was essential
Sharing knowledge becomes possible as trust grows
We translated the training into Bengali for optimal impact
We transfer knowledge in an applicable manner
UNESCO-IHE structures our knowledge
When you do that, you can really make a difference. The transfer of knowledge is based on trust, mutual dependence, and a good relationship. VEI and its partners have all of that. The great thing is that we transfer knowledge in a usable and applicable manner. We can help people avoid the mistakes we have made in the past, which speeds up the whole process considerably. My goal was to have SAWACO realise that Vietnam cannot avoid embracing sustainable entrepreneurship. I gave them examples that we also used within Vitens to increase awareness regarding water usage. I truly felt their understanding of the issue grow.”
This project aims to increase the resilience of water operators in the Mekong delta and the water company of Ho chi minh city, saigon water corporation (Sawaco), in view of impacts of climate change. In addition, the financial and environmental sustainability of the water operators will be enhanced and the coverage of water supply services will be extended. VEI has a long partnership with Sawaco since 2008.
They do not know what benefits it can bring them or how to go about implementing these concepts. In order to create understanding of what it can bring to the organisation, I took the participants in my workshop on a journey through the history of sustainable entrepreneurship in Europe. I specifically focused on how we put this concept into practice in our own drinking water company, Vitens. Furthermore, I emphasised the common developments that are taking place in both the Netherlands and Vietnam, such as climate change and consumer behaviour. Hosting the workshop was an exciting experience for me; the presentation that was shown had been translated into Vietnamese, so I was not able to follow along. Luckily, everything went well. The Vietnamese are very friendly and eager to learn. However, it can be difficult to notice when information is unclear. It is also easy to assume that concepts we find very important, such as safety, sustainable energy, energy reduction, or the fight against corruption, are equally important to your audience. As someone who conducts these brief missions for VEI, it is important to detach yourself from a Western mindset and related assumptions.
BIRGITTA KRAMER (Sustainability Manager)
What Workshop on sustainability Where Water operator SAWACO, Vietnam
“The workshop I hosted at SAWACO – the municipal water company in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City – was about advising the water company on how to integrate sustainability in their business processes. Simply put, it was about the question of where to begin and – once a policy is in place – how to ensure there is support for sustainability and that it leads to tangible results for the company. The concepts of sustainable entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility are not yet properly understood or widely supported within SAWACO.
SIMON IN ’T VELD (Manager Microbiology)
“Three of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) public national water company’s laboratories in Ghana received new equipment with the help of our project and co-financing from the European Union. These laboratories worked with outdated equipment, which meant water quality measurements did not yield the right information anymore. In fact, some measurements were not conducted at all. This made it impossible to safeguard the quality of the drinking water. Furthermore, a large number of analyses were being outsourced to other labs and the quality of those measurements was not being verified in any way. All together, plenty of reason to take action.
Since 2012 VEI has been supporting the water quality department of Ghana water company limited (GWCL), the urban water supply company of Ghana. The strengthening of the laboratories has led to increased capacity of the water quality department and improved sustainable national water quality testing, monitoring and surveillance.
At VEI, this challenge was in safe hands. VEI’s Dutch parent water companies have an abundance of knowledge regarding the analysis of drinking water. VEI was perfectly qualified to select the right experts to translate Dutch knowledge for Ghana. We implemented new analysis equipment and introduced a basic quality system. The goal of these measures was to establish a base level for the quality of water sample analysis. With the help of their new equipment, the laboratories can now conduct more measurements on their own. During the laboratory training I hosted, the key message was that quality is not an ad-hoc activity, but rather an aspect that needs to be safeguarded with the help of a system. Employees then received concrete information on how to draw up a work procedure, which inspections to include in the analysis process, and how to properly record data. We also put the theory into practice.
What Laboratory training Where Water operaror GWCL, Ghana
Together, implemented the new equipment, allowing the employees to familiarise themselves with the new equipment straight away. Furthermore, we drew up all operating instructions, analysis instructions, logs, and other quality control documentation together. This combination of theory and practice ensured that the participants were highly involved and motivated, which is good, because the subject matter, which can be quite difficult at times, calls for nothing less. The most important result of this training programme is that the quality level was elevated significantly. This has enabled GWCL to produce reliable analysis results and safeguard the quality of the water it provides to its clients. If there is a problem somewhere, the company can now identify where the problem is located and take corrective measures independently.”
“Dhaka WASA – the water company in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh – did not have any maintenance instructions or standard operating procedures for work on the distribution network in place. This had resulted in poor maintenance and the rapid deterioration of the quality of the pipeline network’s components. In total, I conducted three brief missions with the goal of drawing up standard operating procedures and train operational field staff, technicians, and supervisors on how to implement these procedures.
What Training Standard Operating Procedures Where Water operator Dhaka WASA, Bangladesh
I have experience with this kind of work at Evides Waterbedrijf, but the operational contexts in Dhaka and Rotterdam are vastly different. A crucial factor for the success of the entire operation was to customise the training to fit local needs and demands. First, I worked with local employees to document the work. I then drew up instructions and recorded videos to illustrate the instructions. I was able to make concrete use of the knowledge and expertise I acquired at Evides Waterbedrijf. At first, I did all my work in English, but the results were insufficient. That is why we opted to translate all written instructions and videos into Bengali. Bangladesh uses a different alphabet, which led to some extra difficulties at times.
VEI has been supporting Dhaka water supply and sewerage authority (DWASA) in Bangladesh since 2012. The partnership focused on providing technical support towards the improvement of operations and maintenance practices, the extension of wash services, and on the demonstration of urban dredging technologies from the Netherlands. The WOP enhanced Dwasa’s operational performance and optimized the water supply scheme.
However, the translation noticeably improved the employees’ involvement with the instructions they received. I also hosted a training for employees in other areas of the water company. This training included a practical and a theoretical component. We went out to learn how maintenance should be conducted in the field and examined the function of maintenance up close with the help of a demonstration. During the theoretical component, we discussed what we had seen out in the field. I not only focused on how to perform certain maintenance work, but also on why it is necessary. It is important to include that aspect, because having people think and make connections on their own, instead of simply doing what they are told, ensures that the new knowledge is retained far better.”
MARTIJN KERSTEN (Manager Data Quality)
UNESCO-IHE and VEI as complementary capacity building partners
“VEI and IHE are complementary in their mission and approach,” Adriaan Mels, Regional Manager VEI explains. “VEI’s mandate is to strengthen capacity of water operators in developing countries. As such, the activities of VEI are hands-on, concerning all elements of running a water company. UNESCO-IHE has a mandate to strengthen capacity through research, education and training and takes a more distanced approach to the day-to-day operational challenges of water operators.
Both organizations seek to improve the capacity of water operators to provide safe and sustainable water supply and sanitation services to all.” Klaas Schwartz, Associate Professor of Urban Water Governance, UNESCO-IHE: “For the Institute, our collaboration opens up doors to practitioners and to their daily operational challenges, making research and education activities more relevant and up-to-date.” Mels: “For VEI, the added value of our collaboration is very specific. During our work in the project countries we frequently meet the alumni of UNESCOIHE. We often know them personally from the lecture halls; various VEI colleagues and myself teach at the institute. Thanks to these alumni we find faster access and connect much more quickly to foreign governments and within important networks. Local water operators that we start to work with automatically gain access to the network and the knowledge of UNESCO-IHE.
What Sharing knowledge to reach SDG6 Where Worldwide
Employees of these water operators get the chance to follow specialized training in the Netherlands at the world’s largest educational institution in the field of water expertise. So for them our collaboration really adds something too. In 2017 and 2018 we will work together in developing six training packages for Water Operator Partnerships. The aim is to work according to a more standardized approach. VEI possesses an enormous wealth of knowledge but can benefit from a structured way of sharing all of this knowledge amongst themselves and with others. UNESCO-IHE adds value by providing structure, testing of all knowledge and by turning all of it into a wonderful and clear knowledge package by means of additional improvement in quality. In our partnerships with the water operators the staff members of the Dutch and foreign water companies involved use these packages and are then in an even better position to transfer the correct knowledge.”
VEI and UNESCO-IHE have been working together for many years. Initially, this cooperation was mostly ad hoc, based on individual project needs, with collaboration mainly in educational and training activities for water operator professionals. However, given the similarities of the two organizations in vision, philosophy and approach, it was decided to formalize the arrangement with a memorandum of understanding in 2012.
In 2016, VEI worked on 44 projects in 19 countries. 19 projects were completed. The leverage on VEI’s own contribution in 2016 was 84%.
Risk inventory and risk management are important topics at VEI. Generally speaking, VEI is exposed to three categories of risk: risk related to health and safety, operational risk and financial risk.
HEALTH AND SAFETY RISK Impact on the results and/or financial position: limited The health and safety of expatriate-and short-term staff is the main risk to which VEI is exposed. These risks mainly apply to international travel, local transportation (accidents, material damage), illness (nutrition, malaria, infectious diseases), safety on the streets (theft), incidents (natural disasters, terrorism), and ‘Occupational health’: even though the expatriate- and short-term employees mainly fulfil an advisory role, many of them are also involved in the operations of the partner water operators. Cases of personal injury resulting from accidents or incidents causes in the first place personal hardship and inconvenience. But it also has a negative effect on the image of VEI and its shareholders, particularly if such situations are not handled professionally and effectively. Anticipating or reacting to these risks may result in the postponement or cancellation of missions. If this situation continues for a prolonged period, it may lead to delays in the implementation of the projects in question. Among other measures, VEI implements the following controls in order to minimise the risk associated with health and safety. • The staff members (expatriates and short-termers) receive preventive   information on the political, security and health situations in the countries   where we are present; • A Travel Handbook (‘Veilig op Reis’), which contains instructions on behaviour and    assistance relating to health and safety;  • Compulsory chauffeurs for Short-termers;  • A crisis management organisation has been set up and an annual training is    organised;  • A ‘Duty of Care’ policy clarifying the obligations of the employer and employee,    which the employee must sign to indicate that he/she is aware of all the available    information and has read the relevant instructions before being issued a ticket;  • VEI cooperates with Control Risk (crisis management) and International SOS    (health) in order to optimally inform and prepare employees and, if necessary,    provide guidance in the area of health and safety. OPERATIONAL RISK Impact on the results and/or financial position: limited The operational risks relate to the quality and effectiveness of the project effort, issue management (water quality, reliability), political risks (human rights, corruption), and employee conduct (professionalism). These affect the reputation of VEI, the Dutch parent water companies and partners. Most VEI projects are partnerships which are entered into by both parties on a voluntary basis, or contracts that are awarded after a tender procedure. Neither poor performance nor bad publicity serves the interests of either of the parties and a critical selection process minimises the likelihood of occurrences of this nature. We know from experience that, when confronted by disappointing (initial) results, the first reaction of the two partners is to look for ways of improving those results. During VEI’s involvement in international collaborative projects during the past 10 years, there has not been a single case of premature termination of a collaborative relationship without mutual consent. VEI implements the following controls in order to minimise operational risk. • Contract selection, a number of criteria is used such as country, contribution to   the VEI mission, and project partners; • Limitation in countries where projects are being operated. • Selection of partners/alliances; • Use of the KPI dashboard, financial reporting and performance reporting in the   context of result accountability in respect of all stakeholders (not only the   shareholders and financiers) in order contribute positively to developing relevant   policy and encouraging broader social debate in this area; • A standardised Financial Planning & Control cycle; • The communication protocol agreed with the shareholders, which defines an   approach and core message for each target audience. • To reduce the risk of bribery VEI has a “code of conduct” for its staff and has also   implemented procurement procedures. FINANCIAL RISK Impact on the results and/or financial position: limited VEI is a project-based organisation and the associated financial risk is therefore typically related to individual projects. For example, risks associated with penalty clauses, bonus/malus agreements in performance-dependent projects, repayment of subsidies, debt-risks, liability for health damage or other damages (injury), unemployment, VEI employees becoming unfit for work and the risk of payment default on the part of the donor. In the event of early termination of the project, there are also financial consequences in that a suitable position must be found for the permanent staff returning to the parent company or partner company from abroad, or an outplacement procedure has to be initiated. Based on the assumption that not all projects will end at the same time and that new projects will arise or existing projects will be renewed, this risk is limited. VEI implements the following control measures to minimise financial risk: • The further pursuit of operational excellence in Project Management and   Finance Control, through optimisation of the administrative/Finance &   Control systems and procedures among other measures; • Registration/preparation of Utility Support Contracts with realistic performance   targets and a good balance between fixed and variable rewards and bonus/malus   arrangements; • Demanding project finance payment in advance; • A standard cooperation agreement has been drawn up in collaboration with Royal   Haskoning DHV, a leading firm of consulting engineers and a VEI partner, which   focuses on clearly defining liability; • Restraint with regard to entering into long-term commitments in relation to rent,   vehicles, etc.; • Not participating or taking any financial position in local water operating partners. • Externally recruited personnel, who mainly work as self-employed contractors or   based on fixed-term contracts (duration is based on the contract period). Utrecht, 15 may Ph.D M.A.C. Schouten, CEO
EU/EIB: 4%
Partners/local water operators: 19%
Contribution to VEI’s project portfolio
Other: 3%
Dutch water companies through VEI: 16%
People that gained access to water/sanitation in 2016
Water for Life: 5%
ADB: 3%
FDW/GWW: 22%
EKN: 28%
PDF (including Financial statements)
Training on the job VEI arranges ‘on the spot’ assistance by deploying experts employed by the Dutch water companies to local water operators, usually for a period of three weeks. Their goal is to effectively support and train local staff by transferring expertise, providing advice and sharing best practices through intensive collaboration on the job.
Classroom training A short term expert shares his knowledge with a local water operator by organising a training or workshop to a group of participants in a structured way. This is often done within a more limited time frame than training on the job.
Awareness training Together with the local water company training materials are developed and a training is organised. The audience usually consists of an entire community. The goal is to raise awareness of communities about subjects like hygiene, water and sanitation. In the end awareness trainings aim at affecting behaviour. Awareness activities usually take a couple of hours to one day.
Meet a few of the Dutch water experts who shared their knowledge with local water operators in Africa and Asia in 2016. On the next pages, they tell all about the why, the how and the impact of their work in the VEI project countries.
VEI arranges ‘on the spot’ assistance by sending Dutch water experts to water operators in Africa, Asia and South-America. It is their goal to effectively support and train the water operators. VEI transfers expertise, provides advice, shares best practices and collaborates with the local water operators to help them set up and run their operations in a business-like and efficient manner. The results are impressive: tangible change, improved operational performance and better service delivery.
VEI’s growing impact
Tangible and effective
Marco Schouten
Mission & vision
A selection
Annual Report
PDF (including Financial statements)
Operations and Maintenance Specialist
Top 5 expertise of VEI short term experts
People reached with awareness training
Local staff trained
Customer Relation Specialist
The input
Selection Commercial system and Survey
Short term missions
Short term weeks
Long term experts
The input of knowledge sharing: deployment of staff of six Dutch water companies
The output of knowledge sharing: capacity building of staff of local water operators and their partners
Network Design
NRW Specialist
The output
Unique short term experts
Top 5 destinations of VEI short term experts
Solvency, expressed as shareholders’ equity in relation to the balance sheet total, was 12% (compared to 12% in the previous year). Nevertheless, two factors have influenced the latest solvency percentage. Firstly, the increase in equity caused by the positive result for 2016. Secondly, the audits of a larger number of projects were finalized which resulted in claims on the final donor contribution. Final payments are received when an audit is finalized. The company’s liquidity, expressed as current assets relative to current liabilities, was 1.19 (compared to 1.19 in the previous year). This stabilization of VEI’s liquidity was mainly caused by the same factors as described above in respect of solvency. Finally, no unforeseen items of extraordinary expenditure had to be accounted for in relation to 2016. Noteworthy for 2016 is the 18% increase in contribution from the Dutch water companies from €4.4 million to €5.2 million. This is largely due to the welcoming of the two Dutch water companies PWN and Brabant Water as new partners of VEI, and an increase in the contributions of existing partners WML and Waterbedrijf Groningen. This level of support reflects our Dutch water company partners’ continued trust in VEI’s financial stewardship. Their generosity and commitment also signal confidence in our ability to effectively and efficiently reach our dream of universal sustainable water services by unlocking the strengths of the Dutch water companies. 2016 was also important strategically for VEI as it marked the first year of the newly formulated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations General Assembly. The SDGs are ambitious as they set the target to end poverty everywhere in all its forms by the year of 2030. As such, the SDGs complete what the Millennium Development Goals did not achieve and will stimulate action in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet, including drink water. Specifically relevant to VEI in that respect is SDG 6, that set the aim to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, by the year of 2030. The SDGs will guide the agenda of the world community for the period towards 2030, and as such will also direct our organisation and daily work. Looking forward to 2017 The project portfolio is expected to stabilize in 2017, which will accordingly result in stable turnover and costs. The deployment of personnel will also stabilize, with an expected shift from flex to fixed personnel (seconded from the Dutch water companies that partner with VEI). Stabilization of the project portfolio is expected to generate a break-even result; which is in line with the non-profit nature of the company’s activities. VEI generates positive cash flow from its business operations, so no additional financing requirements are expected. Looking forward to 2017, a notable exciting development is the start of a new large programme called WaterWorX that culminated from a full year of acquisition in 2016. WaterWorX is the response, under the coordination of VEI, of all ten Dutch water companies to resigning Minister Ploumen of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation’s pledge to make a significant contribution to the UN’s sixth SDG. Ploumen aims to provide 30 million people with sustainable and safe access to drinking water and 50 million people with sustainable access to sanitation facilities by 2030. WaterWorX entails that the Dutch water companies share their knowledge and expertise with local water operators through Water Operator Partnerships (WOPs) in order to prepare them to achieve SDG 6 by 2030, meaning universal and sustainable water service management. WaterWorX is a long-term effort geared towards reducing NRW and improving the financial and administrative systems. Choices relating to contract types and project sites are key elements in managing the risk profile of the commitments we enter into. Selection is executed through a criterion-based filtering process weighing impact, financial risks, operational risks and risks relating to employees’ occupational health and safety. A prime condition to weigh our possible involvement is that there must be a reasonable expectation that our efforts will have a sustainable and lasting impact. The motivation of our foreign partner water company (and its management) is an important indicator in respect of this condition. Other considerations relate to the safety situation of the project site, such as indicated for example by the presence of other international organisations, travel infrastructure and accommodation facilities and advice provided by our partner Control Risks. Control Risks is an independent, global risk consultancy specializing in helping organizations manage political, integrity and security risks in complex and hostile environments. Related to this criterion, is that VEI explicitly condemns (and refuses to participate in) all forms of corruption and the presence of VEI employees in a country in no way indicates VEI’s support of a local government’s policy or an endorsement of its governance quality. With respect to the type of contract, VEI’s policy is not to take a financial interest in local entities. VEI focuses its activities on providing technical support to their partners abroad to enable them to manage their service provision sustainably.
2016 was for VEI a record-breaking year in terms of increase in activities and impact. VEI raised its turnover to a high of €21.5 million; we successfully completed 19 projects during the year; involving 56 long term experts in the field, and 193 short term experts; and provided access to almost 200,000 people that before lacked proper access to drinking water.