The World Bank has approved $27.4 Million USD in financial support for Kosovo’s Fostering and Leveraging Opportunities for Water Security Program (FLOWS). A 10 June announcement describes the programme's aims to strengthen Kosovo’s capacity for managing water security at the national level and to improve water security in the driest region of Morava e Binces basin, in particular.
Kosovo’s water is very stressed, with highly polluted resources and low storage capacity. The increasing gap between growing water demand and available quantities of good quality water is leading to water shortages and supply interruptions. In addition, drought and flood shocks have become more frequent and severe due to climate change. Historically poor management of water resources has contributed to the situation of general water insecurity.
The FLOWS project will address future strategic water storage development and management requirements and will enhance drought, flood and service management. Part of the program will improve the management of dam safety to ensure reduced flood risk and emergency preparedness. Significant investment will be directed to upgrading water supply services in the region managed by Hidromorava water supply company.
The project will also cover the technical, social and environmental studies preparatory to a future financing to expand water storage capacity in southeast Kosovo.
“The World Bank is supporting Kosovo to address the national water crisis and specifically water shortage in the Morava basin area. Beside the important development benefits from an improved supply and strengthened management of water resources in Kosovo, availability of water and sanitation are an essential barrier to preventing virus spread and protecting human health from COVID-19 and similar diseases”, said Marco Mantovanelli, World Bank Country Manager for Kosovo and North Macedonia. “Handwashing in the Morava basin is not to be taken for granted as last year there were over 200 days with interrupted water supply".
Farmers, in particular, will benefit from the FLOWS program through enhanced hydrometeorological services, catchment protection, agro-environmental measures, and the resulting economic opportunities. Through access to improved water services, the project will directly benefit approximately 190,000 people residing in the Morava e Binces basin, in southeastern Kosovo.
The World Bank’s efforts complement the efforts of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and EBRD that announced on 2 June a combined commitment of approximately $27 Million USD for construction of a wastewater treatment plant and related sewerage network for the municipality of Gjilan/Gnjilane in Kosovo. As previously reported in OOSKAnews, this funding will also support development of other key environmental protection infrastructure.
It is expected that the investment will reduce pollution in the local water system, servicing over 90,000, that will have the knock-on effect of reducing the risk of trans-border water contamination. The new sanitary infrastructure will improve the quality of water and, consequently, the efficiency of public health and increase resilience to public health threats such as COVID-19.