Pritha Hariram Interview: Partnerships for Improved Development Aid, Performance Tools, and Women in Water

This week’s story was originally published by our friends at Kini. To see the original post, click here. Kini, Malaysian for ‘current’, signifying the views of leading water practitioners in regards to current trends related to their respective areas of expertise, seeks to expand the dialogue about solving water problems more broadly throughout Australia and the Asia-Pacific. It is about providing opportunities for those who are unable to take part in the more concerted, ‘project’-style AWP activities, to connect with one another and share knowledge. Learn more and join the community here.

Pritha Hariram is an experienced water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) specialist having worked on humanitarian relief and development projects in the Asia Pacific region.

She has technical experience in the planning, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of community WASH projects. Pritha is experienced in source water monitoring, treatment works design and management, distribution system operation and maintenance and consumer use. She has worked for public, private, governmental and donor agencies in Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Maldives, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Solomon Islands.

Presently, Pritha is the IWA’s Program Manager for the Water and Sanitation Services program. The program aims to afford a range of target audiences including service providers, regulators, and financial institutions with best practices in achieving universal access and improved service delivery of water supply and sanitation.

Prior to joining IWA, Pritha was an Urban Development Specialist with the Asian Development Bank where her primary role was to lead in the identification, development, implementation, and administration of loans and grants for urban water and sanitation programs in South Asia.

Pritha also has extensive experience in hazard analysis and risk management of drinking water and wastewater systems to safeguard public health and improve operation and maintenance efficiency through her work in private and public utilities.

In this interview we discuss:
1. Pritha’s association with IWA
2. Importance of multidisciplinary teams,
3. Women in water
4. Why integrated water management is the way for the water industry

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Interview Notes and Additional Resources

Need for Multidisciplinary Teams

  • Having worked in both the developed and developing world, Pritha feels there is more focus on innovation and technology in the developed world while human resources capacity, and low cost technology are important in the Asia-Pacific.
  • Pritha stresses on the importance of having a multidisciplinary team that knows what to do to achieve positive outcomes, adding that a water professional has to be someone with a multidisciplinary background.
  • An interesting point to note in the interview is Pritha mentioning that being a part of a multi-disciplinary team is a criterion to receive funding from the European commission.
  • In the interview, she talks about the importance of building trust and having a partnership between donors and government for effective development. Know more about how having a strong partnership can help the development process here.
  • Pritha reveals that IWA is in a position to access what is ‘realistic’ on the ground and have an understanding of how governments work, how finances work which give them a practical view.
  • Pritha agrees that integrated water management is the future of water management. It’s not about fixing a pipe or engineering solutions.
  • “Be open to networking, collaborating” – Pritha.

Available Collaborative Platforms

Performance Tools

  • IWA established AquaRating – a performance improvement and management tool for utilities across all operational services in collaboration with Inter American Development Bank ( IDB). It is specifically tailored to water and waste water services.
  • Know more about the Millennium Challenge Corporation here.
  • IWA established a task force and adopted a resolution to achieve the SDGs.
  • Young Water Professionals (YWP) and emerging leaders are encouraged to be a part of IWA leadership forums.
  • Pritha agrees that there is a knowledge gap between YWPs and high level professionals.

Women in Water

  • Pritha talks about her first panel at the World Water Congress held in Brisbane and mentions that it was an all women CEO panel. She adds that in Australia there are a significant number of women who are CEOs of utilities.
  • The representation of women in SE Asia & Asia differs depending on the country with South India, and Sri Lanka having a good mix of men and women. Europe has a good mix of women as heads of utilities.