24 April 2018 / Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Efficient and sustainable water services in Bosnia and Herzegovina
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24 April 2018

3rd regional conference “Efficient and Sustainable Water Services in Bosnia and Herzegovina” was organised by Association “Aquasan Network in B&H” from 17 to 19 April 2018 in Mostar.

About 200 participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the South-East Europe (SEE) attended the conference. In addition to relevant government representatives from all B&H levels, including representatives of relevant state, entity, cantonal ministries, entity water agencies, representatives of local self-government units (LGUs) and their public water / utility companies (PUCs),representatives of non-governmental organizations and the private sector, representatives of relevant organizations and institutions from Southeast Europe, as well as representatives of national and international financial institutions (MFIs) in B&H and SEE were actively involved in the conference.

Mr. Bosko Kenjic, from the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of B&H, stressed that LGUs, together with PUCs, cannot provide the proper services on their own, as there is no proper asset management and human resources management. The legal and institutional framework is the foundation for improving the performance of utility companies. Also, stronger linkage between state and entity institutions with LGUs and PUCs is needed as well as greater accountability both by state and entity institutions.

As Mrs. Hazima Hadzovic, Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry of FB&H pointed out, legal reform should more precisely regulate water services and establish the link between existing water regulations and other regulations on local self-government, in order to achieve a better route and more efficient solutions for these important questions that require significant financial resources.

We must create a legal framework that will create security and provide guarantees from the outset that the funds to be used will be adequately realized. We must keep in mind that these services have to be affordable to end users, stated Mr. Damir Mrdjen, the director of the Water Agency for Adriatic Sea Watershed from Mostar.

Mr. Sandi Zulic, Honorary President of the Aquasan Network in B&H, pointed out that reforming the water services sector should be initiated urgently. It should incorporate changes in the legal and institutional framework, as well as changes that will result in more intensified human capacity development. Without it, we will not be able to implement the necessary changes in legislation or maintain existing quality of service, and the sustainability of the PUCs as a water services provider and the sustainability of capital infrastructure investments will be more than questionable.

During the three-day conference, different capacity development programs for LGUs and PUCs that Aquasan Network implements in B&H have been presented. These programs are focused on asset management, non-revenue water and energy efficiency of pumping plants in water systems, with particular emphasis on the achievements and benefits of these programs. In addition, the new Regional Capacity Development Network (RCDN) initiative in the area of water supply and sanitation in SEE was presented and discussed.

Dynamic panel sessions were organised to discuss best practices and challenges related to above mentioned programs, and also other relevant topics, such as customer relations, cost accounting, management of waste water treatment plants etc.

This year, a "Platform for Dialogue" meeting was held at the conference, with the focus on "Supporting coordination between IFIs and relevant institutions / organizations in B&H”. The purpose of the meeting was to achieve a better understanding of the need for institutionalization of capacity development in B&H legislation and its benefits for the successful implementation of projects financed by domestic and international institutions and ultimately the improvement of services in the water services sector.

The participants had the opportunity to visit the waste water treatment plant in Mostar, with the support of the representatives of the utility company.

The conference ended with a very attractive topic, the position of young professionals in the water services sector. The emphasis was given to recommendations on how to achieve a good networking between the academic community and the labor market so that young professionals are ready to respond to the real needs of the market after their education.

The Embassy of Switzerland in Bosnia and Herzegovina was official partner of the Conference.

The Conference was organised in cooperation with the B&H Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, Association of Municipalities and Cities of the Federation of B&H, Association of Local Authorities of Republika Srpska, Association “Waterworks of Republika Srpska” and Association of Employers of Utility Companies in Federation of B&H as well as Republika Srpska Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, Federation of B&H Ministry of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry, Una-Sana Canton Ministry of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry and Adriatic Water Catchment Agency Mostar. The organisation of the Conference is supported by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) through Open Regional Fund for Modernisation of Municipal Services (OFR MMS), Danube Water Program (DWP) through International Association of Water Supply Companies in the Danube River Catchment Area (IAWD) and World Bank.