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The Western Balkans project

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THE Western Balkans Project (WBP) is an initiative of Usefulness of the Future Center of Excellencedesigned to support water and sanitation services in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, with the implementation of the UoF program, and provide additional mentoring and capacity building. The WBP will guide the transformation process in up to 50 utilities in the region, starting with an in-depth analysis of the utility value chain, a short-term improvement plan based on key opportunities and a strategic plan long-term. Additionally, through a competitive mechanism, the WBP will provide additional support to up to 10 selected utilities for the implementation of short-term projects/improvement measures and/or technical advice to draft a plan for improvement. Complete business and investment. The WBP will be supported by a team of advisors balancing local knowledge and international experience to fuel discussions around the issues most relevant to utilities in the region. Subscribe to our Western Balkan Community

In 2024, the WBP will begin providing support to an initial group of up to 15 utilities (“Group 1”) with UoF program implementation, mentoring and capacity building; and in-depth support for up to 5 selected utilities from the group.

Western Balkans Project Group 1

Support for utilities under WBP group 1 (first group of up to 15 utilities)

The main activities to be carried out for the first group of 15 WBP utilities are the following:

A. Usefulness of implementing the future program (UdF)

  • Evaluation of the public service and definition of a short-term action plan: analyze the public service, identify opportunities for improvement and define a short-term action plan with the public service team.
  • 100-day action plan: Implementation of the short-term action plan and participation in learning activities.
  • Five-year strategic plan: Development of the new strategic framework.

B. One-year mentoring program

  • Planning and strategy mentoring: creating or strengthening the planning department and process.
  • Tailored mentoring: technical advice on specialist areas adapted to the needs and priorities of each public service.

Additional in-depth support for up to 5 select utilities

Depending on the level of engagement and performance improvement during the implementation of the UoF program, up to 5 utilities will be selected for in-depth support.

C. In-depth capacity building and support for the development of key improvement projects

  • Support for the development of a key improvement project up to $500,000: Support a key project identified as a priority during the implementation of the UoF program.
  • Additional technical assistance: technical advice to develop a 5-year business and investment plan, and technical and economic assessment of potential solutions for an infrastructure project.

General considerations:

§ Eligibility: To be eligible for this support under the WBP, the public service applicant must:

  • Be in one of the municipalities/cities of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia
  • Be directly responsible by mandate for the provision of water and/or sanitation services in the municipality/city.

§ Registration: The World Bank only accepts one registration per utility for this first group of 15 utilities (Group 1). Public services not selected under Group 1 will be able to apply again in Group 2 in 2025-2026.

§ Focal point: the public service must designate a responsible person/point of contact for the pre-registration and application process.

§ Duration: The expected duration of support under the WBP cannot be less than 4 months nor more than 16 months.

§ Modality: Support under the WBP will be hybrid, with virtual and in situ activities.

§ Data and information: The information shared by the utility will be used for the utility evaluation and selection process and will be processed only by the evaluation team. The information will be managed under the bank policy.

Application timeline:

WBP Application Timeline

PHASE 1 – Pre-registration

For pre-registration, utilities that wish to be part of the WBP and would like to receive more information to continue the process must provide basic information, including the designation of a focal point. The pre-registration deadline is March 252024.

Pre-registration must be done through a public services focal point at the following link, available from March 1 to 25. Pre-registration form. The following information will be requested:

§ Name of the water and/or sanitation service

§ Country, city/municipality

§ Total population in service area

§ Total number of customers

§ Coordinates of the focal point

§ Brief description of current external support received by the public service

§ Main objective/incentive to be part of the WBP.

PHASE 2 – Request

The public services that completed the pre-registration will receive an email with an application form and instructions for submission and next steps. The form must be completed in the local language. The application deadline is April 19, 2024. The form must be completed in the local language. The application form will request additional information from the utility such as:

§ Short essay of interest in being part of the WBP, including a brief description of the main present and future challenges of the public service, examples of public service performance improvement efforts over the last 5 years and the team/ public service personnel who would be part of the WBP. .

§ Basic information on the public service: geographic extent/population served, types of services provided (water and/or wastewater), human resources, key infrastructure in operation, available financial and commercial data or performance indicators.

§ Detailed description of the scope and time horizon of current external support received by the public service (donations, technical assistance, among others).

§ Commitment of the public service to participate in WBP activities.

PHASE 3 – Selection process

First Group Selection of 15 utilities

Once applications are received, a Evaluation committee will select up to 15 utilities to be part of WBP Group 1. It is anticipated that the process will be repeated for a second group of utilities (Group B) in 2025-2026. The evaluation committee will examine each application to analyze:

§ Relevance to WBP objectives: How the public service is aligned with the objectives of the WBP, and the commitment to participate throughout the duration of the project, even if not selected among the 5 finalists.

§ Improvement efforts with the public service’s own resources and means: Utility demonstrated with simple examples its efforts to improve administrative or operational processes in the following areas: commercial, financial, HR, planning or technical operations.

§ External assistance: (financial or technical assistance) The utility benefits from external support that fully or partially covers the scope of the WBP and reduces the potential impact of the UoF program.

Selection Shortlist of up to 5 utilities

The 100-day action plan will serve as the basis for defining a shortlist of up to 5 public services. Although each public service will have a specific action plan adapted to its opportunities, a 100-day action plan will serve as a basis for assessing the change achieved, the impact generated and the level of commitment of each public service . The evaluation committee will examine the performance of the public service during the 100-day action plan, on aspects such as:

§ Completion of the 100-day action plan: Percentage of completion of plan actions at 100 days.

§ Achievement of set objectives: Level of achievement based on the goal set before starting the 100-day action plan (i.e. number of processes/policies updated, number of processes improved/updated, % of files keys uploaded to a secure cloud platform

§ Public Service Leadership: Evidence of management support, staff commitment and allocation of dedicated resources to improvement efforts.

§ Level of participation: Level of participation in training workshops, follow-up sessions, participation in knowledge sharing networks and proactive engagement in improvement initiatives

§ Stakeholder comments: feedback received from internal and external stakeholders related to the project.

Participation of public service personnel

Although the level of participation and effort of utility personnel may vary, a table with an approximation by activity is described below. The public service must establish a team with at least one focal point for each area of ​​analysis: commercial, finance, operations (water and sanitation), human resources and planning.


Public service staff involved

Effort level of public service personnel



Utility assessment

Staff for all areas


(8 hours per week)


100 day action plan

Staff for all areas


(2 to 4 hours per week for 3 months)


Process Review

Staff for specific areas


(2 hour session for 3 days)


5-year strategic plan

Staff for all areas


(8 hours 1 to 2 days)


Optimization opportunities

Staff for specific areas


(4 hour session for 2 weeks)


Mentoring and guidance in the planning process

Planning Area Staff


(2 to 4 hours per week for 6 months)


Mentoring and guidance in specialized areas

Staff for specific areas


(2 hours per week for 12 months)


Support for the development of a key improvement project

Staff for specific areas


(2 to 4 hours per week for 12 months)


Business and investment plan

Planning Area Staff


(2 to 4 hours per week for 3 months)


Technical input to develop pre-feasibility studies

Technical operations staff (water and/or sanitation)


(2 to 4 hours per week for 3 months)

Additional Considerations

§ Personal information: The utility of the future center of excellence and the Western Balkans project adheres to the provisions of the World Bank directive. Data Privacy Policy.

§ By joining the WBP, the utility agrees that the World Bank has the right to make public the names of the utility selected to be part of the WBP for information or awareness purposes.

§ Participation in the Western Balkans project: The registration process does not guarantee participation in the program and does not represent any liability for the World Bank or its partners.

§ Except where prohibited, participation in the WBP constitutes the public service’s consent to the World Bank’s use of the name, likeness, photograph, voice, opinions and/or city and the State of the public service for promotional purposes in all media, worldwide, without payment or consideration.

Western Balkans Project Icons

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