12 January 2023 / Vienna, Austria
Full Speed Ahead: The Danube Water Program Enters Phase 4
Contributed by:
Voice of the Danube
16 January 2023

Launched ten years ago to promote smart policies, strong utilities and sustainable services throughout the Danube region, the Danube Water Program has made more than one big splash. The program's beneficial impact on the water service sector encouraged repeated extensions of its runtime, first in 2015, then in 2019, and now in December 2022, when Phase 4 saw its official launch. Which is good news for pretty much everybody in the region.

DWP, the Danube Water Program, is a policy and technical assistance program for water sector institutions and other sector stakeholders in countries of the Danube region. The program was formally launched in 2013 in partnership with ministries, regulators, national water utility associations, and local government representatives of a dozen countries from South-East Europe to support institutional capacity building and the development of regulatory and policy instruments in the water supply and wastewater sector in countries of the Danube region.

Strong demand for the program’s activities encouraged the launch of two follow-up phases, first in 2015 with a focus on scaling up the activities, then in 2019 with a stronger focus on the sustainability of DWP developed activities and on expanding the program's scope towards the broader Water Security agenda. A collection of informed comments on the importance and value of the program has been published in a short promotion video which saw its premiere during the Danube Water Forum in June 2022. To watch it, click here or follow the link below this article.

In 2021, the Government of Austria decided to finance a Phase 4 with an additional contribution of EUR 4 million to a Multi-Donor Trust Fund, which finances a Bank Executed (BETF) Component 1 and a Recipient Executed (RETF) Component 2, with the latter implemented by IAWD, the International Association of Water Service Companies in the Danube River Catchment Area, which handles the related tasks, including D-LeaP coordination, Voice of the Danube web content curation and the organization of main events like the Danube Water Forum und the Danube Water Conference which will be held from 31 May till 2 June in Vienna.

Phase 4 officially launched in December 2022, with a run time until the end of 2025. The overall objective of Phase 4 is to foster water security and resilient recovery of the water sector in the Danube region in a post-Covid environment by strengthening policies, institutions and efficiency of water sector delivery. The program will keep supporting water-related institutions and utilities of the Danube region, addressing aspects of a secure and resilient water sector with sound capabilities to respond to potential future crises, shocks and stresses, including those brought on by climate change.

Further aspects of phase 4 activities include fostering innovative approaches, strengthening and solidifying achievements in capacity development and performance improvement, as well as sharing experiences and lessons learned on the regional and international level, extending established communication, outreach and knowledge spill-over activities.

The DWP will in particular target higher level government officials, water security policy makers and water sector regulators, senior technical and managerial staff of water supply and wastewater utilities, and representatives of professional associations, international organizations active in the region, relevant academic institutions and NGOs.

Phase 4 will maintain the established geographical landscape of eleven target and five participating countries, with the latter free to join program activities, but excluded from direct program funding. The available resources will be targeted towards the most pressing needs and opportunities for reform and innovation.

The Phase 4 Work Plan lays out a series of individual activities at regional and national levels in three categories: analytical and advisory services, capacity development, and knowledge sharing.

Analytical and advisory will cover both water security and water supply and sanitation services – both at regional and national level. Capacity development will continue the D-LeaP programs via regional Hubs and national level activities, and support national capacity development initiatives as needed. Knowledge sharing largely takes place at the regional level with the signature Danube Water Conference and Danube Water Forum, the recently introduced KnowNow webinars and the Voice of the Danube webspace which also hosts the DANUSIB.org platform. Further knowledge sharing opportunities may arise at a bi-lateral or multi-lateral levels.

In short: The Danube Water Program will keep going, making important contributions to the safety, sustainability and quality of water and wastewater services throughout the Danube region. Which is good news for its inhabitants whose quality of life depends on the quality of these services.