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Albania is part of:
Balkans · Europe & CIS · South East Europe ·
Water Basins of Albania:
Danube · Drin · Lake Prespa · Sava · Vijose ·
Facts & Figures edit
Capital Tirana
Neighbouring Countries Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo
Total Area 28,748 km2
  - Water 1,350 km2 (4.70%) / 470 m2/ha
  - Land 27,398 km2
Coastline 362 km
Population 3,129,678 (109 inhab./km2)
HDIA 0.807 (2007)
Gini CoefficientA 31.1 (1995)
Nominal GDPB $13,520 million
GDP (PPP) Per CapitaB $6,400
National UN Presence
Land UseC
  - Cultivated Land 6,660 km2 (24.31%)
     - Arable 5,507 km2 (20.1%)
     - Permanent Crops 1,153 km2 (4.21%)
     - Irrigated 3,530 km2
  - Non cultivated 20,738 km2 (75.69%)
Average Annual RainfallD 1485 mm
Renewable Water ResourcesE 41.7 km3
Water WithdrawalsF 1.71 km3/yr
  - For Agricultural Use 62%
  - For Domestic Use 27%
  - For Industrial Use 11%
  - Per Capita 558 m3
Population with safe access to
  - Improved Water Source 96%
     - Urban population 99%
     - Rural population 94%
  - Improved Sanitation 91%
     - Urban population 99%
     - Rural population 84%
References & Remarks
A UNDP Human Development Report
B CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia
C CIA World Factbook Country Profiles
D Aquastat - FAO's Information System on Water and Agriculture
E CIA World Factbook
F Earthtrends

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Date Short Description Link
11 Sep 2008 New Solar Water Heating Testing Centre opens in Tirana FIND OUT MORE

Country Profile: Climate, Geography, Socio-Economic Context

Albania has made significant progress since it began its transition into a market-based economy in 1991, introducing structural and economic reforms and establishing democratic institutions. Strong economic growth of 5 to 6 percent per year along with high workers’ remittances have helped reduce poverty from 25.4 percent in 2002 to 18.5 percent in 2005 – effectively lowering the country’s poverty rate by more than a quarter in just a few years.

The MDG agenda is at the center of the national development process in Albania. Along with reductions in overall poverty, the government has worked to improve conditions for the most vulnerable and has succeeded in lowering the extreme poverty rate from 4.7 in 2002 to 3.5 percent in 2005, thereby putting the national target of zero percent by 2015 within reach. But high unemployment levels remain a challenge, as does reducing poverty outside Albania’s urban areas, as one in four people in rural and mountainous regions live in poverty.

Country Profile: Water Bodies and Resources

AlbaniaW is rich in water resources, including rivers, groundwater, lakes, lagoons and seas. Overall its resources exceed by far its consumption, although locally water shortage and conflicts among users may occur in the dry season. The hydrographic basin of Albania covers 43,305 km2, of which 28,748 km2 lie within its boundaries. The rest (i.e. 33 per cent) is in Greece, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Yugoslavia, so Albania shares upstream and downstream water resources with its neighbours. Albania's 247 natural lakes are an important component of the country's hydrographical network. Resources are unevenly distributed throughout the country. The major water resource is surface water, and is found in rivers, lakes, and lagoons.

Despite being naturally rich in water, Albania suffers from a shortage of available drinking water. This is partly because the rainfall is unevenly distributed across the country and partly because more than two thirds of the water is lost during transport and distribution as a consequence of the obsolete supply infrastructure. The towns are supplied with drinking water for only a few hours each day while, in rural regions, the public supply does not even reach one citizen in two. In all rural areas as well as in the majority of towns, sewage is discharged in an uncontrolled manner. The consequences are that water is contaminated and the environment polluted; gastrointestinal illnesses are very common.

Water and the Albanian Economy

Much of Albania’s economic activity is dependent on the utilization of water resources. Over 90 percent of energy production is from hydropower plants, while agriculture is critically dependent on irrigation. However, the inadequate and poorly maintained infrastructure in each of the water-using sectors and the absence of institutional coordination has resulted in the lack of water supplies becoming a key constraint to many economic activities and to satisfying basic social needs.

Country Profile: Legal and Institutional Environment

Legal Framework

Albania’s 1996 Law on Water Resources (No. 8093) (Water Law) is the primary legislation governing the country’s inland, maritime, surface, and groundwater and is intended to ensure the protection, development, and sustainable use of the country’s water and provide for its proper distribution. The Water Law addresses water rights, water use, and governance of water resources. A new law on water management has been drafted and was being circulated internally for review in 2010.

The '1999 Law on Irrigation and Drainage (No. 8518) established the structure for Water User Associations (WUAs), which are private groups that manage water irrigation infrastructure at and below the secondary canal level. Federations of WUAs manage the primary canal networks. The government maintains ownership of the infrastructure.

The Law on Organization and Functioning of Local Government (No. 8652) (2000) transferred responsibility of water supply and management of water utilities to local government (communes and municipalities).

The 2008 Law on the Regulatory Framework in the Sector of Water Supply and Waste Water Administration (No. 9915) and 2009 Ministerial Order No. 66 provide authority for the establishment of an inter-ministerial working group for the evaluation of projects and issues related to drinking water supply and sewage sector in Albania. The working group is led by the Minister of Public Works.

Tenure Issues

Under the 1996 Water Law, the state owns all water resources in Albania. The Water Law provides that surface water may be used freely for drinking and other domestic uses, such as livestock watering, so long as the use is limited to individual and household needs. Water use is also subject to administrative controls imposed by water authorities. Water authorities may restrict free use of water during periods of water shortages or in the event of contamination. The draft Law of Water Management circulating in 2010 retains these provisions (GOA Water Law 1996; GOA Draft Water Law 2010b).

Under the 1996 Water Law, non-domestic water users, and users of groundwater for domestic purposes must obtain permission, authorization, a concession, or a license from the appropriate water authority, subject the following conditions:

  1. Permission. Water authorities may grant administrative permission for the use of underground water for any purpose, water supplied by permanent installations, and water used for irrigation, livestock, aquaculture, and industry. Permission is also required for planting of trees and crops on river beds and the removal of solid material from river banks. Permissions are granted to WUAs for 10-year periods and 5 years for all other users.
  2. Authorization. Authorizations for water use necessary for research, exploration, and study of surface and groundwater are available for periods up to 2 years.
  3. Concession. Water authorities may grant concessions for the use of surface and groundwater for public purposes, including hydropower stations, supply of potable water, and irrigation by agricultural enterprises. Concessions are available for initial terms of 30 years with a potential 10-year extension.
  4. License. Commercial well drillers must obtain a license and separate permission for every well drilled.

The draft Water Management Law circulating in 2010 maintains the system of water rights set forth in the 1996 Water Law. In addition, the draft law adopts a national water strategy and establishes river basin districts and a river basin-level management structure.

Institutional Framework

The National Water Council, which is under Albania’s Council of Ministers, is the primary authority responsible for water resources management. The National Water Council has responsibility for: proposing legislation; managing the drainage basin plan; approving any water management plans relating to agricultural, urban planning, industrial development or other projects; establishing necessary agencies and organizational units; and approving water concessions. The Technical Secretariat is the executive agency of the National Water Council and has responsibility for: implementing national water policy and the legal framework; creating an inventory of water resources; issuing permissions and authorizations for water use; and promoting research and development. The General Directorate of Water Supply and Wastewater (GDWW) is a public institution established by the Council of Ministers specializing in water infrastructure. The GDWW is responsible for providing technical support to the water and wastewater policies and creating the strategic framework of the water and wastewater sector.

Responsibility for municipal water utilities was devolved to Albania’s local governments (municipalities and communes) under the Law on Organization and Functioning of Local Government (2000). Local governments have four areas of authority: administrative, investment, maintenance, and regulatory. Tariffs are based on the principle of cost recovery under the discretion of local government and within general national policies. Actual transfer of responsibility for water resource governance to local governments was a slow process that took place over several years. Most local governments were ill-prepared to take on responsibility for water distribution; they did not have sufficient human and financial capacity to create and rehabilitate infrastructure or manage the utilities effectively. Water utilities tend to have high losses, low revenues and low collection rates. Illegal connections, especially by poor households, are common.

Water User Associations (WUAs) can be established at local levels to manage water resources. WUAs are designed to be financially independent entities that create water schedules and distribution plans, maintain water distribution infrastructure, set and collect fees, and resolve conflicts. As of 2007, 489 WUAs had been established (covering 280,000 hectares), of which 316 (about 65%) were fully functional. A national union of WUAs has been established to represent the interests of WUAs at various institutional levels. Some observers have attributed improved irrigation system management, reductions in farmer disputes and increases in farm production in some areas to the work of WUAs. However, despite some positive outcomes, overall, WUAs have suffered from low membership numbers, poor collection rates and low cost recovery. In many areas WUAs have been unable to maintain infrastructure for the distribution of water or to manage conflicts between different water users effectively.

Government Reforms, Interventions and Investments

The GOA adopted a Water Supply and Sanitation Strategy in 2003. The strategy included a short-term priority reform and investment program (2003-2006) and medium-term reform and investment program (2007-2012) to stabilize and improve water supply and sanitation services. The long term objective of the strategy for the water supply and sanitation sector is to achieve sustainable water supply and sanitation services at the EU Standards in urban and rural areas. Implementation of the ambitious strategy was slow, but by 2008, ownership of the utilities had been transferred from the government to local authorities. The utilities are not yet financially self-sustaining. With support from the World Bank, the GDWW provides technical assistance to local government and water supply and sewage companies, including helping the water supply and sewage companies prepare five-year business plans and developing a phased program on the reduction of subsidies covering the gap between tariffs and total cost, with a goal of eliminating subsidies by 2012.

With support from the Japanese Government, the GDWW prepared a study designed to support the regionalization of water supply and sewage utilities. In addition, the water companies serving Berat and Kucova were successfully merged and infrastructure constructed and rehabilitated with a grant by the German Government.

The European Union, Government of Germany, and other donors are supporting the GOA’s effort to prepare an updated National Water Strategy, which is contemplated as part of a new Draft Water Management Law under internal consideration. Other government projects include participation in the Albania-Montenegro Lake Shkoder Integrated Ecosystem Management Global Environment Facility, which is establishing a Bilateral Lake Management framework for the shared water resource.

Country Profile: Water Sector Coordination

See Sector coordination sub-page for detailed description

Country Profile: Trends in Water Use, Management and Sanitation

The Government of Albania has begun the preparation of a National Water Strategy (with funding by the EU) to set out polices on the efficient management and protection of water resources, and to specify an appropriate legal framework for the management of water resources. However, the lack of adequate monitoring systems, the rapid changes in economic activities, and the continuous movements in population make it difficult to assess the use of water resources. Available data suggests that irrigation and mining rely mostly on surface water, while households and industry on groundwater from aquifers. Domestic water demand is increasing not only because of population growth but also because of the increase in the level of water losses, estimated to be greater than 50 percent in all cities.

Country Profile: Challenges and Opportunities

While Albania has made progress in increasing the provision of safe drinking water and sanitation ─ with 78.4 percent of the population having access to potable water and 76.2 percent benefiting from improved sanitation – drinking water safety and supply shortages, as well as the pollution of lakes due to untreated sewage disposal, remain important concerns.

Limited resources restrict effective monitoring, and data collection on safe drinking water and sanitation remains weak in rural and suburban communities.

Donor Interventions and Investments

The World Bank funded a series of projects designed to support the rebuilding of irrigation and drainage works and the organization of WUAs. The Water Resources Management Project (2004-2009, US$ 16 million) helped increase agricultural production through the provision of reliable irrigation services; increase the financial viability of irrigation and drainage schemes through institutional strengthening; and reduce the risk of dam failures and floods through infrastructure repairs. The Municipal Water Project (2003 – 2009, US$ 16 million) improved water supply and sanitation facilities for an estimated 400,000 people in 4 towns. The project also helped improve the financial viability of 4 utilities, but the utilities did not achieve the goal of financial independence.

The World Bank-funded Integrated Water and Ecosystems Management Project (2004-2009, US$ 5 million) aimed to improve municipal wastewater services for three important tourist areas that depend heavily on a healthy coastal environment: the cities of Durres, Lezha and Saranda. The project involved building man-made wetlands for wastewater treatment and improving management of the Kune-Vain protected marshland. Project outcomes suffered from poor understanding by both the general population and many within the government about environmental management practices. The World Bank’s on-going US$ 38 million Integrated Coastal Zone Management and Clean-up Project (2005-2012) includes support for water supply and sanitation projects. The project, which has the goal of reducing coastal degradation, includes activities to address soil and groundwater contamination in the former chemical plant at Porto Romano; upgrade water supply and sanitation facilities and service in two coastal municipalities; construct an EU-compliant solid waste landfill; and develop a management plan for Albania’s most important Ramsar 4 site. As of June 2010, the project had begun clean-up of the contaminated chemical plant site and construction of water supply and improvement subprojects.


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Projects and Case Studies

Projects in or about Albania

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  1. Promoting Replication of Good Practices for Nutrient Reduction and Joint Collaboration in Central and Eastern Europe ‎(3,015 views) . . Katy.norman
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Case studies in or about Albania

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  1. Albania - Introducing Solar-Powered Water Heating ‎(57,677 views) . . Katy.norman

See the complete list of WaterWiki documented projects in Albania


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  1. On Progress Toward Achieving the Millennium Development Goals ‎(2,720 views) . . Katy.norman
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5 most popular publications on Albania
  1. National Assessment Report for the World Summit of Sustainable Development Johannesburg 2002 ‎(4,653 views) . . Katy.norman
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  4. On Progress Toward Achieving the Millennium Development Goals ‎(2,720 views) . . Katy.norman
  5. Good Community Practices: Prespa Lake Park ‎(1,877 views) . . Katy.norman

See the complete list of WaterWiki documented publications on Albania

Who is Who

People working in Albania
  1. Alvin.Lopez ‎(4,309 views)
  2. Predrag.dakovic ‎(903 views)
  3. Julia.obrovac ‎(4,807 views)
  4. Lauren.Bohatka ‎(3,086 views)
  5. Alma.Gjoni ‎(3,719 views)
  6. Mirela.Kamberi ‎(1,298 views)
  7. Ermira.Fida ‎(1,095 views)
  8. Batkhuyag.baldangombo ‎(4,681 views)
  9. Arian.gace ‎(3,757 views)

See the complete list of Waterwiki users working in Albania

Organizations working in Albania

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See the complete list of WaterWiki documented organizations in Albania


See also

External Resources

UNESCO Water Albania


Water Quality in Albania (UNEP GRID)

UNDP Albania Project page

UNDP Water Knowledge Fair 2006 Albania

WorldBank Environment at a Glance:Albania

2005 Environmental Sustainability Index for Albania

Earth Trends country profile for Albania

Chapter 18 of the Agenda 21 Implementation Review for Albania

The WB: Water Supply and Sanitation in Albania

DFID Albania Factsheet

Population using improved sanitation facilities, comparative data

Intute on Albania

CIA World Factbook Albania

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