Why This Program?

In the wake of EU accession and harmonization, the countries in the Danube region are undergoing a process of rapid modernization that has had a major impact on the status and organization of the water utility sector. Large investments in water and wastewater assets and infrastructure upgrading are taking place, often with significant external financial support. However, these investments have not been matched consistently with a regulatory, organizational, managerial, and technical modernization of the sector’s institutions and governance, and many utilities in the region suffer from chronic problems of overstaffing, poor financial performance, insufficient service quality, and tariff structures that fail to recover costs.

To address these challenges, new skills and knowledge are required to ensure high-quality, cost-efficient delivery of water and wastewater services, mobilize additional sources of funding for investments, and provide incentives for better performance. National governments and regulators need to define and implement policies on topics such as reforming utility management, targeting subsidies to low-income groups, restructuring tariffs, and improving regulation, while local governments and utilities need to develop their managerial capacity to improve the coverage, quality, efficiency, and sustainability of the water and wastewater services they provide. The World Bank and IAWD seek to use the Program resources to facilitate these processes.