Benchmarking for Utility Improvement

Description of the activity

In close coordination with the other benchmarking projects of the Danube Water Program, the objective of this activity was to support two benchmarking cycles in a first group of around 40 utilities through four national/subregional hubs. This activity received 50% financial support from the Regional benchmarking initiative for water and sanitation sector in South East Europe, organized by the German GIZ and the Swiss Development Cooperation. The activity started in May 2014 and is ongoing.

Implementation of the activity

IAWD and the World Bank teamed up with the European Benchmarking Co-operation (EBC) and with national water supply and wastewater utility associations to establish sustainable benchmarking routines in Southeast, Eastern and Central Europe. Four associations volunteered to create national/subregional hubs in accordance with the EBC operating structure. The four hubs focus on utilities in Kosovo & Albania, Western Balkans countries, Bulgaria and Ukraine.

In May 2014 and March 2015, the coordinators of each hub received training from EBC in The Hague, Netherlands. The recruitment and training of utilities was put into the hands of the hubs, which guide their utilities through EBC’s 7-step benchmarking methodology in their local languages.

The hubs for Bulgaria, Western Balkans and Kosovo & Albania organized a first round of workshops for their utilities starting in summer 2014, where they processed performance data from 2013. Kosovo & Albania have since then conducted a second benchmarking cycle. In Ukraine, benchmarking efforts started with a delay, but are now in their first round.

During the first year of this activity, EBC played a leading role in this project’s development and implementation. Starting in the second year, the focus shifts towards the four national/subregional hubs. EBC will provide support, but hand over most responsibilities to the hubs.

The number of participating utilities increased from 36 in 2014 to 58 in 2015. The objective is to attract and include additional utilities over the next years. All participating utilities submit their performance data to the Water Platform and the platform of the IBNET International Benchmarking Network for Water and Sanitation Utilities. In addition to improving their own performance, they broaden the scope of these benchmarking fora and help others compare themselves with their peers.

Challenges and lessons learned

Utility benchmarking is not an easy task, but one that clearly pays off through performance improvements and increased efficiency. The EBC experience in the Danube region and elsewhere shows that voluntary benchmarking organized through national/subregional hubs builds capacities, enables local ownership of the project, and promotes learning from best practices. Participating utilities show strong interest and commitment to the benchmarking effort in their companies.

Becnhmarking Hubs

Benchmarking hub for the Western Balkans

Benchmarking hub for Albania and Kosovo

Benchmarking hub for Ukraine


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Related Events

EBC Benchmarking Workshop
    21-23 October 2015, Jerez de la
    Frontera, Spain

Danube Water Conference
    7-8 May 2015, Vienna, Austria

Ex-YU Benchmarking Workshop
    18-20 March 2015, Belgrade

Utility Benchmarking Training
    4-6 March 2015, The Hague,
    The Netherlands

EBC Annual Benchmarking

    17-19 November 2014, Antwerp,

Utility Benchmarking Training
    12-13 May 2014, The Hague,
    The Netherlands

Workshop: Benchmarking, which
    way forward?

    26-27 September 2013, Bucharest,


Program Activities

Analytical and Advisory Work

Capacity Development

Knowledge Sharing

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