On 21 and 22 January 2021, SHUKALB organized the first workshop in framework of the Water Safety Plan and Crisis Management Program in the framework of the Project “Providing Support to Municipalities and Public Utilities Managing the Covid-19 Crisis in Albania”. The project is commissioned from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and administratively embedded in the GIZ Project “Open Regional Fund for Southeast Europe – Modernization of Municipal Services (ORF MMS)”. The Project is being developed using the existing Danube Learning Partnership (D-Leap) Water Safety Plan and Crisis Management (WSP&CM) Program, which has been adjusted for coping with the influence of the COVID19 pandemic. The Project is supported and coo financed by the International Association of Water Utilities in the Danube River Catchment Area (IAWD).
The workshop was organized as a hybrid event, at Hotel Mondial for SHUKALB trainers, and online via the ZOOM platform for 9 (nine) water utility participants. The aim of the workshop was to raise awareness among the local government and water and sewerage companies representatives and technical staff, on the importance of having standard operating procedures that address water safety and crisis management, and to offer an introduction of the D-LeaP “Water Safety Plan and Crisis Management” Program to the local government and water and sewerage companies representatives and technical staff of the water and sewerage utilities in Albania.
The workshop was delivered by trainers Migena Kukli and Elton Hasanaj. Particiapnts included the managerial and technical staff of 9 water utilities that have been registered to participate (Berat-Kucove, Gjirokaster , Kruje, Gramsh, Lushnje, Fier, Durres, Patos, Belsh). In addition, the workshop was greeted in the opening by Philip Weller, from the Technical Secretariat of IAWD, and it was followed and supported by the Technical Partner of the Program, Christian Phloberger.
Right at the beginning of the workshop, the trainers presented the results of pre-assessment survey they conducted among the water utilities to assess the situation regarding the existence of crisis management plans and/ or the need for developing them. The results showed both a lack of such plans among the water utilities, but also a need to have them developed. As it was also shared by the trainers and the participants, the need of such plans is critical to guarantee the sustainability of the water supply services in the future, as Albania has had in a very short time, a combination of crisis starting with the earthquake in the end of 2019, the global COVID-19 pandemic, as well as severe flooding in the beginning of this year.
During the two days of the workshop, participants were introduced to topics such as identification of operational hazards, preparation and response to these incidents for fast recovery in the event of a crisis or disaster, as well as other elements of a crisis management cycle. Under the trainers’ guidance, the participants were also engaged in practical exercises, using the zoom breakout rooms, performing simulated scenarios of a pandemic, and the response of the utility in such case, taking different roles as defined in the Crisis Management Manual.
As a next step, SHUKALB together with the trainers is conducting visits at each of the participating utilities, to gather the necessary data and information that will be used in developing a Standard Operating Procedure document on Water Safety Plan and Crisis Management, for each utility.