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Kosovo is part of:
Balkans · Europe & CIS · South East Europe ·
Water Basins of Kosovo:
Drin · Iber · Lepenci · Morava ·
Facts & Figures edit
Capital Priština
Neighbouring Countries Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia
Total Area 10,887 km2
  - Water 0 km2 (0.00%) / 0 m2/ha
  - Land 10,887 km2
Coastline km
Population 2,100,000 (220 inhab./km2)
HDIA 0.734 (2007)
Gini CoefficientA n/a (1995)
Nominal GDPB $3,237 million
GDP (PPP) Per CapitaB $1,800
National UN Presence FAO, UNDP, UNHCR, WHO, UNICEF, WB, UN-Habitat
Land UseC
  - Cultivated Land km2 (%)
     - Arable km2 (%)
     - Permanent Crops km2 (%)
     - Irrigated km2
  - Non cultivated km2 (100%)
Average Annual RainfallD 1086 mm
Renewable Water ResourcesE km3
Water WithdrawalsF km3/yr
  - For Agricultural Use 55%
  - For Domestic Use 15%
  - For Industrial Use 30%
  - Per Capita m3
Population with safe access to
  - Improved Water Source 44%
     - Urban population n/a
     - Rural population 9%
  - Improved Sanitation n/a
     - Urban population n/a
     - Rural population n/a
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

> Articles | Projects & Case studies | Publications & Web resources | Who is who | Maps
> Sector Assessment | Sector Coordination | Donor Profile

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Country Profile: Climate, Geography, Socio-Economic Context

Country Profile: Water Bodies and Resources

Kosovo has a mountainous terrain, with the Sharr Mountains in the south and southeast, the Kopaonik Mountains to the north, and a central north-south ridge. Major rivers, including the White Drini, Sitnica, South Morava, and Ibar, cross the country. Large lakes are well distributed, with the Gazivoda in the northwest, the Radonjicko in the southwest, and the Batlava and Badovac in the north and northeast. The country is divided into four water basins/catchment areas: the White Drini, Ibar, Morava e Bincës, and Lepenec water basins. Average rainfall is about 700 millimeters annually, but is highly erratic. Rainfall can be as high as 1750 millimeters annually in the mountains, causing flooding, while drought has become common in the lower-lying areas.

Despite its lakes and rivers, there are regional disparities in the availability of water resources. Regional water companies provide municipalities with water, most of which is piped from reservoirs. Water distribution networks are generally old and suffer from lack of proper maintenance and investment. Few utilities are able to provide regular uninterrupted water supply to their customers. Since 2004, 80% of Kosovo municipalities have suffered from water shortages due to drought and the misuse of water resources. Some regions have had extreme shortages.

Non-Albanian communities in some regions have argued that they receive less water than other groups in the same area. Reports vary in their findings regarding potential discriminatory allocations of water.

Kosovo has a tradition of organizing at the village level to provide irrigation services. Early irrigation management systems expanded and were organized by Public Utility Irrigation Service Providers. Farmers paid village councils a fee for irrigation, and village councils paid the service providers. Kosovo had an estimated 72,000 hectares of irrigable land in the 1980s, with 52,000 hectares under irrigation. Beginning when Kosovo lost its autonomous status in 1989 and Kosovo Albanians lost their jobs and were expelled, the irrigation systems fell into disrepair and were destroyed in the war. When rehabilitation efforts began in 2003, only about 12,000 hectares had functioning irrigation systems. Irrigation systems serving an additional 15,000 hectares have been rehabilitated.

Kosovo does not yet have an effective wastewater treatment system. Untreated sewage is discharged into waterways and land areas, contaminating the soil, surface water, and groundwater. Industrial waste is also commonly discharged into the country’s water systems. In villages, waste is disposed of in open channels which contaminate surface and groundwater. Waterborne diseases are common, particularly in rural areas. Some of the main rivers downstream from larger municipalities and industries (such as the Sitnica River) are so heavily polluted that the water cannot be used for water supply or irrigation.

Sparse information is available regarding the precise state of water resources in Kosovo. However, in general, water resources are minimal compared to population and arable land. Rivers are very polluted (except rivers in the upper flow). Good quality ground or spring water resources are unevenly distributed, lying mainly in the West. Overall, approximately 50% of the population receives their drinking water supply from a public utility. Urban water supply coverage is 87%; a relatively low figure attributable to a few towns where coverage is extremely low. Only 8.4% of the rural population have access to the water distribution system. People in rural areas rely on village water supply systems, their own wells or springs and surface water sources. Where water supply is available, it is limited, due to pipe breaks, interrupted power supply and limited storage capacity. Water distribution networks are generally very old and in poor condition from lack of replacement investment and maintenance.

Water Pollution

Water quality in lowland rivers is very poor due to lack of wastewater treatment and waste disposal, while the upstream rivers, flowing from the mountains, have relatively good water quality. The main rivers downstream of major municipalities are so heavily polluted that they cannot be used for water supply or irrigation, and groundwater is also affected by pollution. The main sources of pollution are human settlements, industry and agriculture.

There are no facilities in Kosovo for cleaning and processing unclean and polluted water from urban and rural dwellings. Sewage water is one of the main pollutants of rivers and underground waters, therefore it is necessary to build factories for cleaning such water/sewage. Facilities for cleaning industrial wastewater have started to be built alongside the establishment of production capacities, and they operated briefly during the testing period and stopped operating afterwards.

Country Profile: Legal and Institutional Environment

Legal Framework

The Constitution (2008) permits all people in the Republic to enjoy the natural resources of the country, provided that use does not impinge on the rights of others. The Constitution also states that water and other natural resources enjoy special protection under the law.

Kosovo’s Water Law (UNMIK Law No. 2004/24) provides for the management and use of Kosovo’s water resources. The Law supports the social, economic and environmental optimization of water resources; conservation and protection; public participation and access; and the equality of use.

The Water Law defines water resources as all inland surface and ground water, aquifers, precipitation, and lands covered with water. Water permits are required for: abstraction; wastewater discharge; construction uses; reconstruction or demolition of structures affecting water quality and supply; mining activities and geological works that affect water quality and supply; extraction of sand, gravel, stones and clay; and other activities that may affect water quality and supply. Permits are not required for the supply of household drinking water.

Under the Water Law, water permits are renewable after five years. A water permit may be revoked for non-compliance or non-use. Permits may be temporarily suspended in times of low water. Water concessions are required for the use of water for power generation, irrigation, the cultivation of fish, and sports and recreation.

Landowners are required to allow free access to their land for the necessary development of water resources, implementation of measures for natural protection, flood protection, and other public interest needs. The state can expropriate land and any water resources on the land as necessary to serve the public interest.

Institutional Framework

The Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning (MESP), which has central authority for water resources, sets water policy and implements water-related legislation. MESP includes a Department of Environmental Protection, the Hydrometeorologic Institute, Water Department, and the Water and Waste Regulatory Office (WWRO). WWRO is responsible for monitoring water companies; issuing, amending, extending, and revoking service licenses; setting up and enforcing service standards; setting up or approving tariffs payable by customers; regulating the mutual rights and obligations of service providers and their customers; and protecting customers (particularly ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups) from discrimination in the provision of services. Six regional publicly owned water companies cover municipal water supply.

The Water Authority of Kosovo is the country’s advisory body on water resource management issues. The Water Law also contemplates establishment of River Basin District Authorities to implement the Water Law and any relevant regulations.

Government Reforms and Interventions

The government of Kosovo has been addressing the gaps in the water delivery and quality systems by focusing on structural changes such as consolidating municipal utilities into regional companies and creating a regulatory framework. With the assistance of the European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR), the Water Authority and Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning are developing a water quality monitoring system, piloting the classification of surface water, flood protection in Skenderaj, and establishing regional water authorities.

In 2009, Kosovo’s Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning (MESP), the Ministry of Energy and Mining (MEM), and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development (MAFRD) met with UNDP advisors and representatives from several regional neighboring countries to review Kosovo’s water resources sector and discuss plans for addressing Kosovo’s response to environmental and climate change challenges, including conducting vulnerability and mitigation-potential assessments and the development of a climate-change strategy and action plan.

Country Profile: Water Sector Coordination

See Sector coordination sub-page for detailed description

Country Profile: Trends in Water Use, Management and Sanitation

Until very recently, no water central authority was operational in Kosovo.

Water Scarcity in Summer 2007

In the summer of 2007, the Municipal Teams of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo reported on human rights and community issues with regard to severe water shortages throughout Kosovo, raising serious concerns on the supply and access to water for all communities. To raise awareness of the problem, the OSCE organized work shops, distributed leaflets on water conservation, and engaged in other activities, often together with KFOR and UNMIK representatives.

Although the water supply situation in the subsequent year(s) wasn't as problematic as in 2007, it is still far from being satisfactory and according to an OSCE report likely to result in a repeated precarious situations. Bearing in mind many different risks, such as drier winters, health risks linked with the contamination of water sources, and the bad condition of much of the water infrastructure, the situation in Kosovo urgently needs to be addressed.

Lack of effective water management capacity

However, effective mechanisms or long-term planning have not been established at the municipal or regional level[1]. This could not only again lead to the infringement of human rights as regards access to water, but also to problems on the political level, as measures to limit access to water could be highly disputed. Though the OSCE in its 2008 report could not identify patterns with regard to discrimination based on ethnicity, this issue could become acute in case of future water shortages.

The OSCE also observed that Kosovo municipalities are not adequately prepared to tackle acute water shortages. Especially rural areas do not have access to running water but are dependent on local wells and springs with questionable water quality. The municipalities seem not to be sufficiently aware of their responsibilities as well as of the risks and dangers they might be facing in the future. Furthermore, most of the Kosovo municipalities in 2008 still were highly dependent on support from KFOR and international donors to implement necessary water projects.

The most significant findings of the OSCE 2008 Report suggest

  • a steadily increasing demand for water combined with a low and insufficient water supply,
  • the lack of waste water treatment and its medium-term consequences to the ground water,
  • uncertain developments in the administration and supervision of the regional water companies,
  • the unsettled distribution of water competencies,
  • an old and decrepit water infrastructure, and
  • an alarming payment behaviour

Country Profile: Challenges and Opportunities

Donor Interventions

USAID’s US $2 million Small Infrastructure for Water and Sanitation program is partnering with International Relief and Development (IRD) to help the municipalities of Pejë/Pec, Klinë/Klina, Malishevë/Malisevo, Gllogovc/Glogovac and their respective regional water companies improve the quality of and access to potable water and sanitation for 85,000 residents.

USAID is also implementing a new 3-year, $7 million program entitled the Kosovo Water Institutional Sector Reform (K-WISER). The objective of the program is to support the financial and technical sustainability of Regional Water companies to improve water supply and sanitation services for the population of Kosovo as a foundation for economic growth and social well-being.

The European Union (EU) is funding a 2-year (2010–2012), EUR €5.7 million Environment Sector Support project that includes components designed to: strengthen the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning (MESP); design and implement a water tariff system; develop a system of regulatory monitoring of water service companies; and clean the Lepenc River, which is polluted with asbestos. The EU has funded a River Basin Management project, scheduled to conclude in 2010. The project provided technical support to the MESP, including design of software and data management systems, processes for collection of water-related data, production of manuals and training, development of water plans and strategy, irrigation system analysis, and flood-risk mapping.

The Kosovo Irrigation Rehabilitation Project I (KIRP-I) ran from 2001 to 2003, and with funding from the European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR) succeeded in rehabilitating irrigation systems covering about 15,000 hectares and providing support for irrigation providers. KIRP-II ran from 2003–2008 and established 22 Water User Associations (WUAs) and six Irrigation Regional Companies (IRCs). The WUAs and IRCs operate through a water user fee and taxation-for-maintenance system of payments, with all payments made through a bank account system to increase transparency and reduce corruption.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) funded the CHF $3 million Rural Water and Sanitation Programme from 2007 to 2009, which constructed new water supply systems in 15 villages and handed over management of the systems to the regional water companies. The South-Eastern Kosovo Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (2007–2009) (CHF 1.6 million) helped increase capacity of regional water companies in Ferizaj and Gjilan to increase collection, reduce losses, achieve regular operation and maintenance, and improve customer relations. The CHF $1 million Kosovo Water Task Force Programme (2008–2011) is facilitating the sustainable takeover of the water utilities by local institutions from UNMIK in order to provide cost-effective, high quality water services to all sectors of the population, help the government develop a long-term water sector management structure and the relationships between corporate entities, municipalities and central government.


Recently updated articles on Kosovo
  1. Kosovo/articles ‎(1,016 views) . . WikiBot
  2. Kosovo/publications ‎(1,198 views) . . WikiBot
  3. Kosovo/projects ‎(1,034 views) . . WikiBot
  4. Kosovo/who is who ‎(1,219 views) . . WikiBot
  5. Kosovo/Maps ‎(1,037 views) . . WikiBot

See the complete list of WaterWiki articles on Kosovo

Projects and Case Studies

Projects in or about Kosovo

(this is a list of the 15 most recently updated entries. To see all projects click here)

  1. Strengthening capacities in the Western Balkans countries to address environmental problems ‎(3,053 views) . . WikiBot

Case studies in or about Kosovo

(by popularity)

  1. Kosovo/sector assessment ‎(21,449 views) . . Katy.norman

See the complete list of WaterWiki documented projects in Kosovo


5 most recently updated publications on Kosovo
  1. Water Supply Issues in Kosovo - OSCE 2008 Report ‎(2,705 views) . . Katy.norman
  2. HDR 2002: Building Bridges to a Better Future ‎(3,646 views) . . Katy.norman

5 most popular publications on Kosovo
  1. HDR 2002: Building Bridges to a Better Future ‎(3,646 views) . . Katy.norman
  2. Water Supply Issues in Kosovo - OSCE 2008 Report ‎(2,705 views) . . Katy.norman

See the complete list of WaterWiki documented publications on Kosovo

Who is Who

People working in Kosovo
  1. Christine.roth ‎(6,173 views)
  2. Denika.blacklock ‎(3,648 views)
  3. Sonja.varga ‎(1,015 views)
  4. Enkhtsetseg.miyegombo ‎(3,663 views)
  5. Anduena.carabregu ‎(3,714 views)

See the complete list of Waterwiki users working in Kosovo

Organizations working in Kosovo

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See the complete list of WaterWiki documented organizations in Kosovo


  1. Water Supply Issues in Kosovo - OSCE 2008 Report

See also

External Resources

UNDP Kosovo

OSCE Water Supply Issues in Kosovo

The Right to Water in Kosovo

DFID Kosovo Factsheet

Water Resources Management in South Eastern Europe



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