The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved the Kosovo Fostering and Leveraging Opportunities for Water Security Program, which aims to strengthen Kosovo’s capacity for managing water security at the national level, and improve water security in Morava e Binces basin, Kosovo’s driest region. The approved financial support for the project is €25.1 million (US$27.4 million equivalent).
“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”.
Beyond the immediate benefits, the program aims to fundamentally shift Kosovo’s precarious water security situation. By regional comparison Kosovo is water stressed, has highly polluted resources, and it has among the lowest levels of water storage in the region. The broadening gap between growing water demand and available quantities of good quality water is leading to water shortages and interruptions in water supply and irrigation services. Drought and flood shocks are expected to become more frequent and severe due to climate change. In addition to physical water stress, Kosovo is water insecure due to poor management of available resources.
The approved project will also lay the basis for future strategic storage development and management, improved knowledge of water in the country to deal with droughts, floods and improve services, as well as improve the management of dam safety for downstream communities. It will invest significantly in upgrading water supply services in the area managed by Hidromorava water supply company. It will also finance the technical, social, and environmental studies to allow a detailed appraisal of a potential follow up investment to expand water storage capacity in the ‘Kike-Kremenata’ hydro-system in southeast Kosovo. In addition, the project also has sub-components that support economic recovery through community grants, and job creation during implementation.
All people of Kosovo, and farmers in particular, will benefit from enhanced hydrometeorological services, catchment protection, agro-environmental measures, and the resulting economic opportunities. All communities downstream of Kosovo’s dams will also benefit from increased attention to dam maintenance and safety, reduced flood risks and better emergency preparedness. Drought risks would be reduced by enabling currently idle water storage capacity to be utilized. 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 FLOWS project is financed with a credit from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group. IDA credits are provided on concessional terms with zero or very low interest rates and long repayment periods. The financing for this project has a maturity of 25 years and a 5-year grace period. The project will be implemented over 5.5 years by the Government of Kosovo.