By Valu Add Management Services and Erald Lamja –
The water sector in Albania faces a pivotal moment. The Government of Albania (GoA), in line with the UN Agenda on Water, has identified improvement of water supply and sewerage services as one of its five crucial pillars and priorities under its current mandate. Water utilities are not in sufficient compliance with the principles of cost control, continuous efficiency improvement, and full cost recovery; causing a vicious circle of underfunded service providers, insufficient investment, and deteriorating infrastructure in particular for wastewater management. Currently there are 58 water utilities in Albania, structured as joint stock companies owned by the local governments.
Korça Water Utility is the best operating Water Supply and Sewerage Utility in the country supplying 24-hour pressurized drinkable water to approximately 99% of its municipal area. It has the lowest rate of non-revenue water (NRW) and operates a full sewerage network accompanied with a wastewater treatment plant. Indeed, this utility ranks as one of the best utilities in the Western Balkans.
The USAID’s Planning and Local Governance Project (PLGP) assisted the Korça Water Utility in 2013 to develop a comprehensive 5-Year Business Plan and Performance Improvement Action Plan, which were rigorously implemented and monitored by Senior Management of the Utility.
On September 27th and 28th, PLGP’s Water Team put together a field study tour to this utility with 5 water and wastewater utilities, representing the USAID Project partner municipalities of Tirana, Lushnja, Fier, Vlora, and Patos, with the intention of sharing and learning from successful experiences and best practices.
The study tour demonstrated practical implementation of good technical and commercial practices with a specific focus on:
• Management and monitoring of water production;
• Metering management (meter-reading process, control center);
• Management of customer services;
• Operation and management of wastewater treatment service plant.
The USAID Planning and Local Governance Project is also assisting model municipalities to prepare a comprehensive assessment of water supply and sewerage services in the expanded area to include:
• Collection of all available infrastructure documentation for the ex-communal systems to be transferred;
• Identification of water demand and non-revenue water characteristics in the expansion areas;
• An analysis of existing staffing in the expansion areas that would need to be assumed by the surviving utility; and,
• Defining new strategic objectives for which revised performance improvement action plans will be developed.
“Korça Water Utility is the perfect example showing that not only investment, but good management is very important in water sector”, said Ersi Veliu, Technical Director of Lushnja Water Utility.
“Based on what I saw during the two-day study tour in Korça, the customer care procedures are of the highest priority at this moment for the Tirana Water Utility. After the study tour, I met with the Customer Care Department staff to draft a handbook of procedures and processes. Our 5 customer care offices are the face of UK Tirana with the citizens and to this end we need to make sure customers are served well.” – Evis Gjebrea, Deputy General Director of Tirana Water Utility
Photo by Erald Lamja