SHUKALB’s 2019 Year in Review – Message by Elisabeta Poci, Deputy Executive Director

To all of our members, supporters and friends, we want to wish you a Most Happy, Joyous and Healthy New Year in 2020.  The continuing success that SHUKALB enjoyed this past year is largely the result of the “partnership” that our Association staff has had with all of our stakeholders, not only in Albania, but across the Western Balkans and beyond.

During 2019, SHUKALB delivered 7 training courses that were attended by the staff of 15 water utilities across Albania covering topics such as financial statements, water loss management, sampling and laboratory procedures, customer service and public relations, management, water quality and wastewater treatment.  For 2020 we are committed to continue our efforts to offer and deliver training courses and capacity development programs that respond to the needs of our member water supply and wastewater utilities as well as the broader water sector, using our own resources as well as part of partnerships with ongoing regional activities.

On March 2019, SHUKALB started the implementation of the first phase of the “Asset Management in Water Supply and Sewerage Utilities of Albania” Project, which consists in asset registration and network data management for the 12 Albanian water supply and sewerage utilities participating in the project.  At the beginning of 2020, SHUKALB will complete the implementation of the first phase and will start the implementation of the second phase of the project, the Maintenance Management.

The Project is being offered in the framework of the “Asset Management Advisory Services to Water Utilities in South-Eastern Europe” Program which is being implemented through a partnership between the German Organization for International Cooperation (GIZ), Hydro-Comp Enterprises Ltd. Cyprus, and the International Association of Water Supply Companies in the Danube River Catchment Area (IAWD), as part of the D-LeaP.

In addition, during 2019 SHUKALB in partnership with SHUKOS delivered successfully for the 5th round the Utility Benchmarking program for Albania and Kosova, in the framework of D-LeaP.  In 2020, besides continuing the delivery of the above programs, SHUKALB in cooperation with SHUKOS plans to offer the Energy Efficiency and Non Revenue Water Programs.

In March SHUKALB finalized the implementation of its largest Project Grant, the USAID funded “Sustainable Water Sector Capacity Development” Project.  One of the major results of this Project was the formal establishment of the Test-based Certification Program for operational managers of Water Supply and Sewerage Companies (WSSCs) in Albania by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy.  As a continuation to the work done by SHUKALB under the Project, on September 2019, the National Water Supply-Sewerage and Waste Infrastructure Agency (AKUM) officially launched the implementation of the program by sending an official letter to all Albanian Water Supply and Sewerage Companies asking them to identify the positions and the respective current staff in these positions that will be subject to certification. The Certification process is expected to go through two phases: the Initial phase: screening and pre-qualification of candidates based on education and experience in the water supply and sewerage sector, and the Second phase: qualification based on training and testing.

The establishment of the Test-based Certification Program for operational managers of Water Supply and Sewerage Companies  in Albania has been the result of SHUKALB’s efforts and close cooperation with AKUM and all water sector stakeholders in Albania, and in particular of the partnership with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy of Albania.

The Annual Balkans Joint Conference and Exhibition, organized in Prishtina, Kosova, on 6, 7, 8, November 2019, reached again its goal to stimulate the dialogue between different stakeholders and offer opportunities for water professionals, policymakers, and business professionals from the sector to discuss issues of concern, exchange information, and share their experiences in an effort to help the further development of the water supply and wastewater sector in the Greater Balkan Region. The Conference marked its highest participation in the history of our conferences, with a record of over 550 participants coming from 16 different countries.

The participants at the Conference had the opportunity to visit one of the largest Technical Exhibition in the history of our Annual Conferences, which gathered 28 private companies coming from ten (10) different countries from the Balkan region, Europe, as well as Israel.

Regarding our “Outreach Programs”, SHUKALB has successfully completed the Friends of Water Program for the 3rd Grade Students and the World Water Monitoring Challenge (WWMCH) Program for the 8th Grade Students.  Both of these programs were implemented in the frame of the project: “EU Support to Waste Water Management and Treatment Services” co funded by the European Union and German Government.

The Friends of Water Program reached its objective to raise awareness on water issues among 3rd grade students across Albania.  The program reached 44 elementary schools across Albania, involving over 4,500 children.  The Program was conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Sport and Youth of Albania, together with involvement and support from the water utilities in the respective schools part of the Program.

The World Water Monitoring Challenge Program which aims to educate and encourage engagement in the protection of the water resources, through participation in more formal citizen monitoring efforts, reached 20 elementary schools across Albania, involving over 1,200 children.  The data collected from the tests (pH, temperature, turbidity, DO) were uploaded by the students on the program website www.worldwatermonitoringchallenge.com.

In 2020 SHUKALB will deliver the “World Water Monitoring Challenge” and the High school “Science Fair” programs, that will be include elementary and high schools situated in 6 coastal cities of Shkodra, Lezha, Kavaja, Durres, Vlora and Saranda. The programs will be implemented in the frame of the Programme: “Customer and Performance Oriented Drinking Water and Sanitation Service” and the Action “EU Support to Waste Water Management and Treatment Services” co funded by the European Union and German Government and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

In October SHUKALB renewed its grant agreement with the Regional Capacity Development Network (RCDN) Project, for the period of October 2019- January 2021. RCDN is a project being implemented by the GIZ-Open Regional Fund (ORF), and financed by the Swiss and German Governments, and aims at establishing a self-sustaining Regional Capacity Development Network, with 16 local government and water associations in the region.  The activities planned by SHUKALB in the framework of RCDN  for the 2020 focus primarily on training regarding the implementation and management of infrastructure projects (mainly urban wastewater treatment plants), asset management, and the exchange of experience of Albanian water supply and sewerage companies with companies in the region.  Part of the planned activities is also the lobbying and advocacy, focused mainly on the objective of advancing SHUKALB’s work with training and capacity building programs.

Following the devastating earthquake of 26 November SHUKALB played a proactive role in offering its support to the most affected water companies mainly Durres and Kruja Water Supply and Sewerage Companies.  In coordination and cooperation with the Swiss Embassy in Tirana, SHUKALB joined the team of Swiss Humanitarian Aid who arrived in Albania to offer emergency response to those affected by the earthquake.

All these achievements are the result of the hard work of SHUKALB’s staff, the support of our Board of Directors and the commitment of our members.  There is still a great amount to be done, but based on our experience of 20 years; we have proven that we can do it.