Country Water Actions

Country water actions are stories that showcase water reforms undertaken by individuals, communities, organizations, and governments in Asia-Pacific countries and elsewhere.

Azerbaijan: Infrastructures and Institutions for Urban Water Supply and Sanitation
May 2006

Dramatic improvements in Azerbaijan's water supply and sanitation services will be felt by the urban populace come 2010. Increased support for water supply and sanitation infrastructure from ADB and other donors are expected in the towns of Goychay, Agdash, and Nakhchivan, as a project to improve urban water supply and sanitation sweeps the country. BUILDING INFRASTRUCTURE, IMPROVING INSTITUTIONS Through a project supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan will improve the quality, reliability, and sustainability of water supply and sanitation (WSS) services in the towns of Goychay, Agdash and Nakhchivan by 2010. "ADB and other donors expect to ramp up their support for water supply and sanitation infrastructure in Azerbaijan's towns in the coming years. The needs are great. We expect this project to provide model for much-needed reform-one that supports private sector participation and, at the same time, effective partnership with consumers," says Shane Rosenthal, ADB Urban Economist. The project consists of two components: Infrastructure development: The construction of new and efficient distribution systems for Goychay and Agdash, and rehabilitation of the Nakhchivan system Institutional development: Promoting institutional reform and capacity building through private sector participation, the establishment of joint stock companies (JSCs) in each of the towns and community involvement through water user associations. The project will also pilot new approaches for the WSS sector as a basis for other sector-wide reforms in the three towns. WATER FOR ALL BY 2010 IN AZERBAIJAN The Republic of Azerbaijan's WSS sector is burdened by inefficient operations, outdated and rundown physical infrastructure, and severe financial constraints. As paying customers, Azerbaijan's citizens receive water at irregular times of the day and what comes through the pipes is usually unfit for consumption.

The government service providers or SuKanals have focused on engineering-designing and constructing expansions of a system-while neglecting the operations and maintenance of the current system, including its financial management and commercial performance. The urban water supply and sanitation project hopes to change all of these. It will ultimately benefit 147,000 people in Goychay, Agdash, and Nakhchivan, providing access to adequate potable water at low costs by 2010 through WSS improvements and new infrastructure. These include: New well fields to replace nonfunctioning ones, including those destroyed by floods New pipe systems, elevated reservoirs, and chlorinating facilities to replace the existing water distribution system New main and branch sewers, sewerage pumping stations, and waste stabilization ponds CHANGING THE WAY BUSINESS IS DONE Institutional reform in Azerbaijan's WSS sector will begin with replacing the state-owned and operated SuKanals with open-type, JSCs in each of the project towns. These new water utilities will be co-owned by the government and private sector operators. The private sector will be involved through a management contract, which employs a chief engineer, operations manager, and a finance manager to provide international expertise in operating, managing, and maintaining the new WSS facilities and to train local personnel to take full responsibility for the operating services. The new utility companies will own assets constructed and rehabilitated under the project, and be responsible for the operation, management, and maintenance of new WSS systems have independence on financial, managerial, operational, and staffing decisions report to specific state agencies, and be accountable for their performances The project will also test the innovation of town water users associations, which will be formed as advocacy groups to represent consumer interests. They will be recognized by the water utilities as important partners in customer satisfaction and service delivery. They will undertake public information campaigns about effective use of WSS services and represent members' concern over service standards, quality, and tariffs.

EXEMPLARY PROJECT DESIGN IN URBAN WATER The improvements to the Azerbaijan WSS system wholly satisfy ADB's water policy for increasing people's access to water supply and sanitation. The ADB water policy advocates for projects that support optimization of agency functions, private sector participation, autonomous service providers, tariff restructuring, user participation, greater water quality and system efficiency, and better wastewater management. The Azerbaijan urban water supply and sanitation project tackles all of these issues, and is able to do so more easily because completely new utilities are being established in the three project towns. A 2005 quantitative study of ADB's water loans and grants, which analyzed the designs of ADB water projects against ADB water policy action items, rated the project's design as "exemplary" for the project design's attention to institutional improvements, and partnering of government, private sector, and communities in new service delivery and new water systems.

RELATED LINKS Read the Project Profile: Azerbaijan Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Read the project's Report and Recommendation of the President [ PDF ] PDA: Establishing Local Partnership for Managing Water and Sanitation Services in Secondary Towns in Azerbaijan

_______________________________ *This article was first published online at ADB's Water for All website in May 2006: The Country Water Action series was developed to showcase reforms and good practices in the water sector undertaken by ADB’s member countries. It offers a mix of experience and insights from projects funded by ADB and those undertaken directly by civil society, local governments, the private sector, media, and the academe. The Country Water Actions are regularly featured in ADB’s Water for All News, which covers water sector developments in the Asia and Pacific region.

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