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Water Supply and Sanitation

Albania can be considered a water-abundant country. Its overall renewable resources amount to 41.7 billion cubic meters or 13,300 cubic meter per capita, out of which about 65% are generated within Albania and the remaining from upstream countries (namely, Serbia and Montenegro and FYROM). Resources are unevenly distributed throughout the country. The major water resource is surface water, and is found in rivers, lakes, and lagoons. The most important rivers are the Drin, the Mati, the Ishmi, the Erzeni, the Shkumbini, the Semani, the Vjose, and the Bistrica.

The lack of adequate monitoring system, the rapid changes in economic activities, and the continuous movements in population make it difficult to assess the use of water resources. Available data suggests that irrigation and mining rely mostly on sufrace water, while households and industry on groundwater from aquifers. Domestic water demand is increasing not only because of population growth but also because of the increase in the level of water losses, estimated to be greater than 50 percent in all cities.

Albania's water sector is plagued by a variety of problems facing the power sector, such as high consumption, wastage and misuse, illegal connections, below-cost tariffs, inadequate revenue collection, and insufficient investment in physical infrastructure. Consequently, despite Albania's abundant water resources, water supply in urban areas is intermittent and less than half of the rural population has access to piped water. The lack of reliable water supply hampers private investment and endangers public health, especially that of the poor. Without sector reform and investment in physical infrastructure, the ongoing deterioration will lead to crisis situations in many urban and rural areas.

The Bank, in close cooperation with other donors, is taking the lead in helping the government tackle policy reforms, focusing on cost recovery and private sector and community participation. The government has prepared, with Bank assistance, a Water Supply Action Plan and a comprehensive Water Supply and Sanitation Strategy. The Municipal Water and Wastewater Project (January 2003) tests private sector participation in water supply and sanitation through a management contract for four cities - Durres, Fier, Lezhe, and Saranda. Alongside this project, the World Bank is also committed to a variety of other projects in support of water supply rehabilitation throughout the country.

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