Korca in Albania


Waste water system paving the way to the future

A functioning waste water system eliminates health risks and protects the environment. This was to be achieved by the FC project for waste water disposal and treatment in the Albanian city of Korça. The evaluation attested to exceptionally high rates of success.

KfW Development Bank’s commitment

KfW has been supporting the German Federal Government in implementing its development-policy goals since 1960 within the scope of Financial Cooperation (FC). We combine financing know-how with development-policy expertise. On behalf of the German Federal Government, and primarily the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), we promote and support programmes and projects that mainly involve public-sector players in developing and emerging economies

Korça, a flourishing trading centre during the Ottoman Empire, is situated on a high plateau nestled in the mountain ranges of southeastern Albania. Magnificent boulevards and parks line the city, mosques and churches dot the historical centre – the city’s rich cultural heritage from the era of its heyday can still be felt today. But four decades of a Communist dictator and isolation have left their mark. Since the fall of the Albanian regime in 1991, nearly half of the population has emigrated abroad. It is only now that Korça and other cities in Albania are gradually seeing people return. One of the country’s biggest challenges was and still is the rehabilitation of the infrastructure, some of which is still dilapidated.

FC started with Korça in 1996, initially in the drinking water sector; in 2003, the waste water problem was tackled: the city’s sewage system was more than a hundred years old and leaking. At the outskirts of the city, open channels fed untreated sewage to the surrounding areas – a danger to health, the environment and Korça’s drinking water sources. FC fi nanced a new urban network and a closed circular collection system around the city to route the sewage to the new pond treatment plant. The problems are solved: open sewage – a cesspit around the city and also oft en in the cellars of the city’s residents – are things of the past. Some of the treated sewage can now be used for irrigation. The treatment plant does not yet meet all EU standards – Albania has been a candidate country since 2014. But the pond treatment plant is easy to operate, inexpensive and can be upgraded in the future to completely satisfy the EU requirements.

Evaluation: impact assessment and lessons learned

Whether a project is succesful or not is determined chiefly by asking the following questions: What has the project achieved for the people in the partner country? Has their situation improved in the long run? Three to five years after a project has been completed, the independent Evaluation Unit of KfW Development Bank conducts an independent evaluation for roughly half of the projects completed to draw lessons learned for future projects and programmes.

The waste water system is operated and maintained by the Korça municipal utility in an exemplary fashion. Hard facts provide evidence: e.g. proper discharge values of the treatment plant or a connection rate of 95 per cent of households as well as other impressions on the ground. The evaluators discovered, for example, a small solar power system. Representatives of the public utility proudly explained that it was financed with their own funds and it supplies the power needed by the treatment plant – one of the many signs of the executing agency’s high level of commitment.

Korça’s high water and waste water fees, the highest in the entire country, were cause for concern. But in view of the costs for operation, maintenance and financing, the public utility can only remain efficient if it generates adequate earnings. Despite the high prices, the population is willing to pay for the service in the water sector. The remarkable result: the public utility completely covers its costs; external financial support is only needed for new investments. The long-term impact of the investment in the sewage system is guaranteed.

And that’s not all: as the mayor of Korça explained excitedly, the new sewage system created unexpected impetus for urban development. When cellars stopped flooding and the bad odour was eliminated, a sense of optimism spread. Houses were rehabilitated, markets were renovated and hotels, restaurants and businesses began to flourish thanks to growing numbers of tourists. Korça is rediscovering its old grandeur.

Result: "very good" – grade 1

Published on KfW Stories: Wednesday, 24 May 2017


All United Nations member states adopted the 2030 Agenda in 2015. At its heart is a list of 17 goals for sustainable development, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our world should become a place where people are able to live in peace with each other in ways that are ecologically compatible, socially just, and economically effective.