By Valu Add Management Services –
The Government of Albania has identified improvement of water supply and sewerage services as one of its five crucial pillars and priorities under its current mandate. The main objective is to expand access to and enhance the quality of water supply and sewerage services for the entire population of Albania. The ultimate goal is to provide uninterrupted water supply to all people, provide wastewater services to protect human health, and minimize negative environmental impacts. In late 2017, the Council of Ministers launched the so-called Water Sector Reform and Action Plan, aiming to improve the delivery of water supply and sewerage services by reducing non-revenue water, improving financial sustainability of municipal water providers, and enhancing transparency and accountability.
Responding to the immediate crucial need expressed by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy (MIE), the USAID Planning and Local Governance Project (PLGP) provided primary advisory role in developing the National Approach and Methodology to Reduce Non-Revenue Water in Albania (NRW).
This approach served to provide an understanding of the different components of water losses and strategies to deal with each component as well as a clear description of the actions needed to fulfill the strategies. It also aims to provide an understanding of the framework within which the proposed strategies and actions will become practicable, achievable and sustainable, including the required organizational structure.
The conceptual approach was followed by a comprehensive short-term action plan, which included main interventions focused to achieve reduction of commercial losses in the eight biggest utilities: Tirana, Elbasan, Lushnja, Fier, Kavaja, Durres, Shkodra, and Vlora. This action plan supported the Ministry of Infrastructure in identifying the key requirements and short-term measures that would yield maximal financial return for the service providers with the least possible investments thus contributing towards efficient and effective management of the water supply systems and achieve NRW reduction of 16% at national level.
In addition, PLGP water experts assisted the Prime Minister’s Office and MIE in holding roundtables and presentations to managing directors of six water utilities. Topics of discussions of these activities included baseline analysis and findings of the NRW short-term action plan and the timelines needed for its implementation. MIE incorporated NRW actions plans in the draft Performance Agreements to be endorsed by the national and local government tiers for the provision of water supply and sewerage services.
PLGP’s Lead International Water Demand Expert, Mr. Bambos Charalambous, presented the GoA National Short-Term Action Plan to reduce NRW, developed with the assistance of PLGP, at the 6th Balkans Joint Conference and Exhibition “Water and Nature” in Tirana.
“There is extreme difficulty in achieving a reduction in water losses, especially in physical losses, under the current Intermittent Water Supply (IWS) operational regimes in Albania. There is an urgent need to establish necessary structures and introduce systems to manage the supply and distribution network under the current IWS situation. The 3-year short-term action plan targets mainly reduction in commercial losses, and addresses “quick wins” with reasonably affordable investments,” highlighted Mr. Charalambous during his presentation.
The Non-Revenue Water Reduction Short-term Action Plan includes interventions in: bulk metering, unmetered customers, customer database, unauthorized use, malfunctioning customer meters, customer billing database, billing errors, large-scale customers, mapping, and active leakage control.