TIRANA, Albania, September 28, 2010 –A broad-based consultation workshop was organized today to discuss the key principles and policies proposed for inclusion in Albania’s new Water and Wastewater Sector Strategy. Hosted by the Minister of Public Works and Transportation, Mr. Sokol Olldashi, the General Directorate for Water, Wastewater and Solid Waste Policy of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, this presented global best practices and discussed options for including lessons learned in the new sector strategy.
Responding to a Government request and with support from the Water Partnership Program, the World Bank prepared Background Papers for discussion at the workshop covering a wide range of topics. The workshop included representatives from national and local governments, utilities, industry associations and other civic organizations, as well as donors.
Albania is at a critical juncture in the water sector. It has an ideal opportunity to align its sector policies and development programs so as to ensure sustainable service provision while progressing toward meeting EU accession requirements.
“We are pleased to be in a position to assist the Government of Albania and have jointly agreed in the new Country Partnership Strategy (2011-2014) between the Government and the World Bank to focus on the water sector as a key pillar”, said Stephen Karam, Program Leader for Water and Urban Sector for Albania. “This would not be possible without a strong commitment of the Government to carrying out reforms in the sector and its desire to ensure this is a widely-embraced national strategy.”
World Bank presentations at the workshop focused on critical sustainability challenges, ranging from the need to better target subsidies, to programs promoting improved demand management, to achieving financial sustainability at the utility level, to institutional arrangements that benefit from efficiency gains while ensuring accountability to local communities in the provision of services. The World Bank credits strong donor coordination led by the Austrian Development Agency and collaboration with EU, KFW and GTZ on a sector investment master plan and tariff reform program respectively as a hallmark of this important partnership.
The new strategy is intended to provide a guiding framework for policies and investments in the sector, including a proposed World Bank-financed Water Sector Investment Project now under preparation. The workshop is the culmination of several months of sector analysis and consultations at the community level carried out by the Government and sector specialists. Completion of the draft strategy is planned for late October and will incorporate feedback and comments provided in the workshops.