Competitive Grant 13:

Strengthening the Capacity of Water Utilities in the Region with Benchmarking of Key Performance Indicators

Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia - P.E. Vodovod Bistrica Bijelo Polje

 

Description of the activity

The utility company Vodovod “Bistrica” Bijelo Polje, Montenegro received an IAWD grant to improve operational practices in water works. The utility teamed up with its peers “Lim” Prijepolje, Serbia and “6. mart“ GoraĹžde, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as with the Hydro Engineering Institute from Sarajevo, to implement this project. Activities started in March 2014 and were finished in March 2015.

Implementation of the activity

As the projects’ first part, the utility companies jointly hired two external consultants for utility management and financial management. After site visits, the consultants analyzed aspects such as operational, financial and environmental management, planning capacities and procedures, organizational structure, and staffing. They identified Key Performance Indicators for continuous benchmarking of the utilities, e.g. within the regional benchmarking effort organized with the European Benchmarking Cooperation through the Danube Water Program.

The consultants further carried out a gap analysis to find opportunities of common and quick improvement for all three utilities. The team identified staff training on water supply network mapping and the procurement of required hardware and software as the most promising areas for such improvements.

Subsequently, the utilities hired a consultant to provide technical assistance in network mapping. In November 2014, this consultant organized a 5-day training workshop on mapping and GIS development, and in December, January and February visited each utility for further training and support. Management staff from all three utilities met for each of the four sessions in order to exchange experiences and to maximize learning outcomes. The trainings laid the groundwork for continuous improvement of digital network maps.

Also in November 2014, the utilities hired a company to deliver the previously identified required IT equipment; to develop an Android app for digital water meter reading; and to establish a bookkeeping procedure for fixed assets. Among other items, an A0 plotter, 20 tablets, 3 printers, 16 desktop computers and an electrical device for water pipe freezing were purchased.

Over the course of this project, all three utilities mapped their primary water supply network and are in different stages of extending their datasets to include the secondary network.

Challenges and lessons learned

Through this competitive grant project, cross-border cooperation on the utility level has been initiated. Management staff of the participating utilities shared ideas about continuing such cooperation, and gained experience in applying and reporting for grant schemes.

Upon completion of all activities, the utilities organized a press conference to present the project and its results to the public, and achieved local and national media coverage.