Strengthening Future Communities through the Youth of Today
A Mayor’s Role in Economic Development

PLGP supports the Water Utility of Saranda to develop for the first time a Five-Year Business Plan and a Performance Improvement Action Plan

When the PLGP Water Team arrived in Saranda, they found in the Water Utility (WU) team, a willing and eager partner. After years of effort trying to design a plan, the Saranda WU had only been able to complete an annual budget forecast. It was perfect timing for the utility and the municipality of Saranda to think outside the box.

After the Territorial Administrative Reform, the Saranda Municipality experienced huge changes in both their land area and the responsibilities associated with local government. In addition to these new responsibilities, Saranda also has the special distinction of being one of the most popular tourist spots on the Ionian Sea and in Albania as a whole. In partnership with the PLGP and partner Valu Add, Saranda undertook the development of a Five-Year Business Plan and Performance Improvement Action Plan. The approach to business planning for the Saranda Water Supply and Sewerage Utility has been both strategic (to rationalize investment in the service area), as well as operational (to encourage the water utility to evaluate its existing services in a comprehensive manner and prioritize actions for improvement in critically-identified areas).

Through a bottom-up process that involved a variety of stakeholders and senior management, Saranda was able to identify priorities; set objectives; analyze current performance levels; and forecast future trends in human, financial, and economic resource constraints. This approach aimed to increase the efficiency of resource allocation and ensure sustainability of services moving forward. Once a consensus was reached regarding the key assessment criteria, a set of performance metrics was defined along with targets in the short, medium, and long term.

The Utility Staff used internal and external cost projections for the business plan, to identify future infrastructure improvements and to estimate growth and operating costs. This information will guide the water utility over the next five years. The process to develop the business plan was conducted in a thorough, inclusive, transparent, and collaborative manner by enabling communication with several key actors, donors, and other institutions. They also collected concrete information, integrated several scenarios inside each business plan model, and facilitated consensus and understanding of implementation with the utility management and local government officials.

The Business Plan of Saranda Water Utility will serve as a roadmap in the future for the Capital Investment Program that Saranda Water Utility leadership has committed to plan and implement over the course of the next five years. This building block is crucial as the municipality moves forward in both augmenting their financial capabilities and investing in their status as the destination of choice for visitors, both domestic and foreign.

As the General Director of Saranda Water Utility, I can firmly state that we are focused on putting customers first. We are always striving to deliver water safely and reliably while providing the best overall value to our customers and tourists. This business plan will help us look ahead to plan and prepare for changing customer expectations, innovative technologies and practices that will enhance customer experiences, and explore possibilities in water management systems to make our water system even more reliable. In addition, the plan will help us to make timely investments for improved water supply system efficiency, so that the service area of the Saranda Water Supply and Sewerage Company is fully prepared to respond to the increased water demand needs of the tourists and residents during the summer period. We are proud to work hard to provide safe, clean and reliable water to Saranda Municipality and we appreciate the assistance provided by USAID to complete this important task.” – Sheme Lulo, General Director of Saranda Water Utility

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