The World Bank Communications Team in the Kyrgyz Republic offers this story.
Alexander Shehovtsev heads the water and sanitation utility in the small town of Kant in the Kyrgyz Republic. He has worked at the Vodokanal Company for over 20 years and knows its operations in minute detail. Alexander remembers when staff had to ride bicycles to the farthest edges of town to make repairs, and had only a few tools to fix emergency leaks.
Now, thanks to a municipal improvement project supported by the World Bank, Vodokanal technicians are much better equipped to tackle leaks and breaks. As a consequence, the water is cleaner. "As a company manager and a citizen of this town, I am happy that access to clean drinking water has improved," Shehovtsev says.
Fixing leaks is important. Small towns of the Kyrgyz Republic still lose 40% to 90% of all their piped water because their water distribution networks are old and crumbling. These numbers illustrate the catastrophic condition of local service infrastructure, installations, and equipment in small urban areas. After years of neglect, the need for rehabilitation is pressing; and in some places entirely new systems are the only solution.
Between 2005 and 2011, the World Bank supported Kyrgyz government efforts to improve municipal services in provincial centers through the Small Towns Infrastructure and Capacity Building Project. One of the most substantial operations in recent years, the project financed investments in 23 small towns with populations ranging from 9,000 to 70,000 people. The bulk was spent on rehabilitation and construction of basic service infrastructure, most of it on water supply and sanitation systems.
Results are impressive. For example, in Naryn, the water supply is consistent and almost uninterrupted. That is a vast improvement from before, when only a quarter of residents had a regular water supply.