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Project overview

Water management in Kosovo
Water: essential for economic and social integration

A worker digs a water pipe trench with an excavator in Kosovo.
Thanks to the SDC, rural areas are being connected to Kosovo's water supply system. © Vedat Xhymshiti

Both access to water supply and wastewater treatment are fundamental conditions required to raise the living standards of populations. In Kosovo, many people are deprived of this basic right. The SDC and SECO support numerous projects designed to improve the management of water resources in rural and urban areas. Success has been achieved at various levels.

In the year 2000, the water supply and wastewater treatment situation in Kosovo was deplorable: 51% of the population was not connected to a public water supply network and 79% was not connected to a wastewater treatment network. The main problem was not insufficient water resources, but rather a faulty water supply network and a lack of a means to channel and dispose of wastewater in an environmentally sound manner.

Action taken in rural and urban areas

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) provided both financial and technical support for several projects to improve access to water in Kosovo. While the SDC focussed on upgrading and expanding existing infrastructures in rural areas, SECO supervised the construction of water supply networks in urban areas situated in the south-eastern part of the country, particularly in the towns of Gjilan and Ferizaj.

Thanks to its expertise in the water sector, Switzerland has become an important partner for the Kosovar government. SECO funds the secretariat of the Water Task Force, an interministerial body established to handle all water-related issues. This platform seeks to adjust and harmonise water legislation, improve management of water resources and establish good relations between institutions and users. In addition, the SDC and SECO provide support to regional water utility companies so that they may effectively and sustainably manage infrastructures.

Swiss delegates also take part in meetings of experts, which enables the exchange of knowledge and the formulation of strategies. Switzerland is also responsible for coordinating the activities of Kosovo’s partner country donors. This helps to ensure that aid in the water sector is more effective.

Success achieved at various levels

Thanks to projects supported by the SDC and SECO between 1999 and 2012, access to drinking water has considerably improved for around 100,000 people in rural areas and 160,000 people in urban areas. Moreover, around 25,000 people in rural areas are now connected to a wastewater treatment network. At a political level, a new national law on the use of water and the management of water resources has been enacted in Kosovo. This new law is compatible with EU framework directives.

The support that the SDC and SECO have provided to national water management projects has encouraged the state to play an active role. Moreover, the involvement of local inhabitants in water management projects has not only facilitated the transfer of know-how, it has also stimulated economic development and has led to new forms of local participation.

An approach based on communication and conciliation has helped to create an atmosphere of trust between the various communities (particularly Albanian and Serbian) living in Kosovo. The various ethnic groups are required to interact with one another in order to jointly manage water resources. This has proven to be an effective means of avoiding conflicts.

More work remains

The SDC and SECO have been involved in the water sector in Kosovo for more than ten years. Their commitment has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Despite these positive results, in 2011 some 40% of the population still lacked access to the public water supply network and 52% were not connected to a sewage system. The current project phase aims to provide an additional 50,000 people with access to the drinking water network. Approximately 100 water supply systems are to be managed and maintained by regional water companies.

This is a major challenge for Kosovo, since access to water is essential for economic and social integration.


The project in brief

Cooperation with Eastern Europe
Water, governance
Country / Region
Kosovar Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning; Kosovar Ministry of Economy and Finance

Regulatory body For water and waste

Regional water utility companies

NGO Community Development Initiative (CDI)

Current situation/background
The majority of rural and urban residents were not connected to the national drinking water network and had no functioning sewage disposal system.
Project objectives
Improving health and quality of life by improving access to drinking water and sewage disposal systems.
Target groups
Population of rural and urban municipalities, regional water companies
SECO: CHF 26.3m from 2000 to 2010
SDC: Phase 4: CHF 4.8m
To date: 7.9m
Phase 4: 01.2011–12.2013
Project start: 06.2005 

SDC Western Balkans Section<>

Additional Information and Documents