The majority of the 560,000 inhabitants of Skopje will benefit from wastewater treatment for the first time thanks to a new plant to be constructed in the capital of North Macedonia.
The EBRD is providing a €58 million loan, complemented by a €68 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and a €10 million investment grant provided by the EIB’s Economic Resilience Initiative.
Wastewater treatment has been identified as one of the most urgent tasks under the Green Cities Action Plan developed by the city’s authorities and the EBRD.
Skopje is currently one of the few capital cities in Europe without any substantial wastewater treatment. Instead, raw sewage is disposed of directly into the river Vardar, polluting the environment and affecting the livelihoods of people living downstream of the area, in North Macedonia and in Greece.
The new plant will treat 51.3 million m3 of domestic raw sewage per year and return the effluent safely to the receiving environment, significantly reducing pollution levels in the Vardar river and improving ecosystems and the wellbeing of people. The plant will cover nine of the 10 municipalities that constitute Skopje and have a capacity for 650,000 people, accounting for the expected increase in population.
The project will also benefit from technical assistance arranged though the EBRD for Vodovod i Kanalizacija Skopje, the city’s water utility company, for the introduction of a financial and operational performance improvement programme and a public service contract, which will be funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. A study to identify priority network investments is also covered under technical assistance.
The Green Cities Action Plan is part of EBRD Green Cities, a fast-expanding €1 billion urban sustainability programme helping more than 30 cities in economies where the Bank invests to become more environmentally friendly. The programme looks at ways of investing in greener transport, water and waste management and, more generally, seeks to make cities more liveable. It offers a comprehensive business model for green urban development, combining strategic planning with investments and associated technical assistance.
The EBRD is a major institutional investor in North Macedonia. To date, it has invested more than €1.9 billion in 124 projects in the country. Supporting environmental investments is a priority for the Bank as it addresses one of the country’s most pressing challenges.