Commercial Efficiency 

The program on Commercial Efficiency and Business Planning in Water Supply and Sanitation Utilities in Southeast and Eastern Europe consists of both capacity development workshops on business planning and of targeted technical assistance. For the design and implementation of this program, IAWD hired a consortium led by Valu Add Management Services based in Tirana, Albania. The activity started in October 2014 and is set to finish in fall 2015.

In Phase I of this program, which started in October 2014, the consortium planned details, schedules and the exact content of the capacity development efforts.

In phase II, Valu Add contracted local national experts for Moldova, as well as for Kosovo, FYR Macedonia and Montenegro. In a series of three consecutive workshops held in both the Western Balkans and in Moldova in March and April 2015, the consortium introduced pairs of senior management staff of 21 utilities to the concept of business planning and guided them towards setting up such plans for their companies. Nineteen out of the 21 utilities successfully completed business plans, with two utilities dropping out of the program.

In phase III of the project, which started in July 2015, the consortium is providing targeted technical assistance to the 15 utilities showing the strongest commitment and best expectations of success. Five of the selected utilities are located in Kosovo, one in FYR Macedonia, six in Moldova, and three in Montenegro. Valu Add delivers the technical assistance over a period of three months. It consists of on-site visits by international experts and by the local national experts, monthly video conferences, and two joint workshops for the Western Balkans and Moldova, respectively.

The experts provided technical assistance in fields such as developing procedures to reduce commercial losses, supporting the meter zoning process and developing procedures for increasing billing collection rates.

The project team has been in close contact with the relevant national water utility associations and with involved utilities through the local national experts, who in addition provided invaluable assistance in reducing language barriers.

The participatory approach chosen by the project team, which included the collection and preparation of performance data by the utilities between workshops, encouraged the participants to be engaged in the program, and yielded very satisfactory results.

Throughout this capacity development program, striking a balance between reaching a large number of utilities and coaching each on a one-to-one basis proved to be a challenge.