SHUKALB’s 2021 Year in Review – Message by Elisabeta Poçi, Executive Director

Dear Members, Partners, and Friends,

As we prepare to step into the New Year we would like to use the opportunity and wish you all a Happy, Prosperous and Healthy New Year in 2022.

Despite the difficulties we faced this year, due to the continuation of the COVID pandemic, SHUKALB managed to meet its mission objectives, by successfully carrying out its activities and adapting to the situation.  I am pleased to share with you a summary of some of the highlights of the major activities and events that SHUKALB undertook this past year.

During 2021, in the framework of its Training Program, SHUKALB delivered 12 training courses, 4 of them delivered online, attended by 210 participants from 30 water utilities across Albania covering topics such as water quality, leakage control, management, financial management, water loss management, financial statements, business planning, financial and fiscal reporting, customer service, public relations, and wastewater treatment. For 2022 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.

In the framework of the Regional Capacity Development Network (RCDN) Project, SHUKALB delivered the training on “Capital Infrastructure Investment Projects in the Water Sector”, which was attended by 25 participants from 6 water utilities.

Furthermore, SHUKALB was actively engaged in advocacy on topics of common interest and important to our members towards the improvement of the quality of water supply and sewerage services for citizens. In this regard and in the framework of RCDN, on April 2021, SHUKALB drafted two position papers which address the topic of capacity development of the staff of public utility companies, as well as the topic of asset management, as a necessary practice in the work of utilities. The preparation of these documents was preceded by a period of research and consultation with our members and key stakeholders. You can download these position letters by accessing the LINK.

During 2021, SHUKALB implemented successfully the D-LeaP Water Safety Plan and Crisis Management (WSP&CM) Program, for 5 water utilities, Berat-Kucova, Gramsh, Lushnja, Belsh and Patos. The program was implemented in the framework of the RCDN Project.  The water utilities involved in the program have finalized their Water Safety Plan and the Crisis Management Plan, and are currently in the process of approving through the Administrative Council as internal documents to be used and referred to in case of a crisis event.  In 2022, SHUKALB plans to continue offering this very important program to other water utilities in Albania.

In partnership with SHUKOS, we continued and delivered successfully for the 7th round the Utility Benchmarking Program for Albania and Kosova, in the framework of Danube Learning Partnership (D-LeaP), for 13 water utilities in Albania and Kosovo.

2021 marked the third year of implementation of our Integrated Asset Management in Water Supply and Sewerage Utilities of Albania Project, with the participation of 18 Water Utilities. Ten (10) water utilities out of 18 have already joined the Platinum Level while eight (8) water utilities are working in the Gold Level and have started with data collection and elaboration in order to apply the maintenance management procedures. SHUKALB has delivered face to face and online trainings, along with field visits at the water utilities, as part of the work to provide technical assistance to staff of water utilities with the implementation of the Project.

The Annual Balkans Joint Conference and Exhibition was organized, for the second year in a row, as a virtual event on 3, 4, 5 November 2021. The virtual Conference attracted over 200 water professionals representing water utilities, donor’s community, private companies, academic institutions as well as other central and local government institutions from 14 different countries. Parallel to the Conference we managed successfully to organise a virtual Exhibition, which provided opportunities for the participants to meet and interact virtually with the representatives of the exhibiting companies.

Regarding our Educational and Public Outreach Programs, SHUKALB organised successfully the High School “Science Fair” and the “Friends of Water” programs. Both programs were organised in the frame of long term partnership with the Ministry of Education and Sports of Albania, and with the support from SHUKALB’s member water utilities.

The High School “Science Fair” program for the 11th grade students was implemented for 9 high schools and 43 students at the municipalities of Shkodra, Lezha, Durres, Kavaja, Vlora, Peqin and Cerrik, with the support of the respective water utilities. The program was supported by the “Customer and Performance Oriented Drinking Water and Sanitation Services” program (funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ).

The “Friends of Water” program, dedicated to 3rd grade students of elementary schools, reached out to 26 municipalities across Albania, involving the respective member water utilities of SHUKALB, 66 elementary schools, and around 2,500 children. The implementation of the program was supported in part (for the municipalities of Tropoje, Diber, Klos Himare, Dimal and Devoll) by the “Accompanying Measures Rural Water Supply III” Program, funded by the German Development Bank KfW and the Albanian Development Fund.

As another complex and difficult year comes to an end, we are proud of what we have so far achieved. For that, we are grateful to the commitment of our members, and the collaboration and support from all our partners, being those long term ones as well as new. Lastly, we would not be able to accomplish all these achievements without the hard work of SHUKALB’s staff, as well as the support from our Board of Directors.  We look forward to continuing to build on these past achievements in the New Year 2022, with a refreshed vision and energy.