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Results Briefs October 27, 2020

Developing a Long-Term and Holistic Approach to Strengthen Water Security in Kosovo


Photo Credit: Lundrium Aliu, World Bank

The World Bank developed a Water Security Outlook that identified challenges facing Kosovo’s water sector and recommends wholistic and integrated steps to strengthen its water security long-term, while also benefitting other sectors. It was well received by the government of Kosovo, led to a new World Bank lending project, and helped inform the decision to conduct a national water sector investment planning study.


The Water Security Outlook report outlined numerous challenges facing the state of water security in Kosovo. Among them are the following:

  • Kosovo’s water basins are expected to experience increased water stress over the next twenty years due to population growth, resource constraints and increased demands to strengthen the irrigation, mining and energy sectors. Moreover, many of these basins are transboundary and vulnerable to risks such as floods, droughts, and pollution.

  • The country’s agricultural sector is heavily water dependent (with 140 million m3/year of withdrawal) – though poor infrastructure and a lack of investments limit its availability.

  • Furthermore, Kosovo has dilapidated and outdated infrastructure, as well as low energy generating capacity (0.8 kilowatts per habitant, which is less than half of that in Slovenia and roughly one-fourth of that in Austria), and low installed hydropower capacity (52 megawatts compared to 3,122 megawatts in Serbia).


The World Bank has been involved in a variety of development activities in Kosovo, even before its independence in 2008. In the water sector, this now includes projects addressing water security, the protection of canals, and agriculture and rural development. In addition, the Bank has also provided advisory services and analytical studies pertaining to agriculture, energy, environment, irrigation, land management, and water supply and disaster management. In 2018, with assistance and cooperation from Kosovo’s Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning and the Interministerial Water Council, the World Bank published the Water Security Outlook Report for Kosovo. The report outlined numerous recommendations for the country to strengthen its water security and contributed to the initiation of the World Bank’s Fostering and Leveraging Opportunities for Water Security Program (FLOWS). 


The diagnostic produced the following findings and recommendations:

  • Kosovo has experienced low water resource availability, storage (only 300 m3/person compared with a 799 m3/person regional average), and poor water resource management.

  • Kosovo would benefit from implementing strategies that improve outcomes in information, institutions and infrastructure in water resources management.

  • It’s recommended that Kosovo embark on a holistic and multi-sectoral programmatic approach for effective water resources management.

  • Kosovo would benefit from conducting additional analysis in the form of River Basin Plans and investment programs.

  • Increasing collaboration with training institutes and academia would help Kosovo further strengthen its water resources management.

  • Increasing integrated watershed management through methods like green engineering would help Kosovo achieve greater environmental protection and reduced pollution.

  • It’s recommended that Kosovo utilize water resource interventions like storage, wastewater management and irrigation to revitalize rural economies.

  • Developing dam safety assessments would help Kosovo increase the resilience of dams to extreme weather events.

The Government of Kosovo appreciated and absorbed the diagnostic’s conclusions, which led to the Government thinking more strategically about water sector investments, and thus the following outcomes: 

  • Informed the decision to prepare a national investment plan under FLOWS and a national irrigation investment framework supported under the Bank financed Agriculture and Rural Development Project.

  • Kosovo requested that the World Bank develop and provide a loan for the FLOWS Program. The program aims to enhance water resources management and increase the availability of water resources by strengthen the management capacity for Kosovo’s water security, developing a National Water Resources Investment Preparation Study and constructing and refurbishing new stations, among other measures.

Bank Group Contribution

The Advisory Services and Analytics (ASA) study was supported by a Bank Budget of $51,400 and completed in 2018.


Within Kosovo, the World Bank has worked most closely with the Kosovo’s Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning and the Interministerial Water Council through data sharing and other means of support. Other external partners that have worked on improving Kosovo’s water sector by providing loans, investments, plan development, trainings and assessments, include the Governments of France and Austria, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Swiss Development Cooperation, the German Development Agency GIZ, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank and the European Union.

Moving Forward 

With the exception of basin planning exercises, Phase 1 of the FLOWS program aims to address the following recommendations outlined in the diagnostic:

  • Engage in comprehensive and inclusive basin planning exercises.

  • Execute no-regret investments related to water supply and storage, water demand management, water source protection and flood and drought management.

  • Expand services at the local watershed level through conservation, protection and development.

  • Use improved data and information to increase accountability over the performance of the water sector.

  • Study more potential options for improved water quality management while keeping in mind the multiple sources of pollution.

  • Develop a financing vision for the water resources sector, while focusing on sub-sectors such as irrigation and water supply.


This study was targeted at helping both the Ministry, as well as internal and external partners involved in the water sector broadly to strengthen Kosovo’s water security. The lending program in particular will benefit residents of the most arid areas in Kosovo.

Learn More

Fostering and Leveraging Opportunities for Water Security Program (Project 1) (2020-2025)

Kosovo Water Security Outlook (June 2018)


Photo Credit: Lundrim Aliu, World Bank

Photo Credit: Lundrim Aliu, World Bank