Water Resources and Irrigation Project Loan Agreement Signed Today
TIRANA, December 14, 2012 - The Government of Albania and the World Bank today signed the agreement for the loan to finance the Water Resources and Irrigation Project, totaling Euro 31 million. The agreement was signed on behalf of the Republic of Albania by Minister of Finance Ridvan Bode and on behalf of the World Bank by Country Manager Kseniya Lvovsky. The ceremony was held at the Ministry of Finance in the presence of high government officials as well as members of the team who have prepared the project, which was approved on November 29, 2012, by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) loan will be complemented by a grant from the Government of Sweden of Euro 3.88 million.
The new project will help Albania establish the strategic framework to manage water resources at the national level and in the Drin-Buna and Semani river basins, and improve, in a sustainable manner, the performance of irrigation systems in the project area. The project will specifically provide support to: (i) rehabilitating and modernizing selected dams and irrigation systems; ii) improving the performance of organizations that provide irrigation and drainage services, including recruiting private operators in pilot irrigation schemes; iii) preparing a National Integrated Water Resources Management Strategy and River Basin Management Plans for the Drin-Buna and Semani river basins, and iv) establishing a national Water Resources Database. The latter activity will be financed through the Swedish Grant.
“Over 80,000 farmers, including 5,000 women, are expected to benefit directly from this project” says Kseniya Lvovsky, Country Manager for the World Bank Office in Albania. “The project will support growth in a critical sector of the economy and also help the country satisfy requirements associated with EU accession. It will improve safety of dams and help address the impacts of climate change through improving allocation of water resources and reducing the risk of flooding.”
The Bank has funded three irrigation investment operations in the past in Albania. These projects provided investments in the rehabilitation of irrigation schemes, strengthened capacities, and implemented institutional reforms. Lessons learned from the implementation of these projects have been incorporated into the design of the current project in order to improve the quality of water resources and irrigation service delivery, including the need to (i) work with Water User Organizations, local governments and the private sector, (ii) address dam safety concerns and (iii) adopt a more comprehensive and strategic framework for addressing water resources management at the river basin level.
Albania became a member of the World Bank in 1991. Since then, 72 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 8 active projects in social sector, education, natural resources, water, energy, road and municipal infrastructure that are helping Albania to achieve sustainable economic and social development and pave the way for European integration.