The World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors today approved a new loan to help Albania improve the quality of water and wastewater services in the coastal city of Durres area, and improve the financial performance of its water utility. An IBRD loan of US$85.3 million equivalent for the Albania Water Sector Investment Project aims to upgrade and expand the existing water supply and sewerage network in Durres, the country’s second largest city, one of the main tourist destinations, and primary port.
These objectives will be achieved through (i) priority investments in the water supply network and construction of water transmission pipeline to address water shortages during peak touristic season; secondary investments linking villages to the city’s water supply system; and priority investments to reduce losses in the water distribution network; (ii) priority investments in the sewerage network and its transfer capacity from the touristic beach area to the newly constructed Durres Wastewater Treatment Plant, and (iii) further support to the Durres Water Utility to improve the quality of its service and its financial situation.
The government has accorded priority to the water sector and has outlined the Durres area as a priority in its Government Program. “The Project would therefore provide an ideal opportunity to advance the policy and institutional reform agenda outlined in the new Government Program and the recent Sector Strategy, coupled with financing for priority investments,” said Tahseen Sayed, Country Manager for the World Bank Office in Albania.
The project will build upon foundation established under earlier water investment programs in the Durres region and will scale up the Bank’s level of engagement. “The primary project beneficiaries will be up to 400,000 people in the peak season (330,000 off-peak), who would benefit from service improvements in the Durres region. This represents a crucial improvement, in terms of better water supply and treated wastewater, expanded coverage in urban and rural areas, as well as increased environmental protection of water sources and coastal waters”, said David Michaud, World Bank Senior Water Supply Specialist and Project Task Team Leader.
The Bank has funded three water investment operations in the area in the past. These projects provided investments in the rehabilitation of water supply network, strengthened capacities, and implemented institutional reforms. Lessons learned from the implementation of these projects have been incorporated into the design of the current project, including sufficient funds and investments in response to the needs, linking institutional changes to broader sector reforms, commitments to reforms, avoiding politicization of tariff setting, assessment of the political economy of the sector, and consultations with key stakeholders.
Albania became a member of the World Bank in 1991. Since then, 73 projects totaling US$1.2 billion have been supported by IDA and IBRD, and 49 projects totaling US$225 million by IFC. Currently in Albania there are 5 active projects in the social sector, natural resources, water, energy, and public sector management that are helping Albania to achieve sustainable economic and social development and pave the way for European integration.