Background: The case study is based on the joint UNDP and World Bank programme, which was set up to help tackle Albania’s water and sanitation problems.
About Water and Sanitation services in Albania
- The issue in Albania was related to Consumer protection, where Water companies held a monopoly position in many regions of the country, while consumers were not aware of their rights and were poorly organised.
- Further, the commercialization of water supply services had pushed water prices up, but improvements in water supply services were lagging behind.
- Also, the discharge and treatment of wastewater were major problems since the necessary infrastructure was lacking.
- The innovative aspects that were introduced to address the situation were:
- Use of a consumer rights approach to addressing issues related to access and quality of water and sanitation.
- Adoption of a multi-thematic approach, which combined the consumer rights and the water management themes.
- Use of the contract between water companies and consumers as a means to educate both parties on their rights and obligations, with respect to environmental protection
- Use of the contract as an entry point to improve the quality of water and sanitation services.
- The results of the program include:
- Cooperation between national institutions was established.
- Model contracts were formulated, approved and introduced.
- Improved quality of water and sanitation services, better consumer protection and environmental protection
- Consumer complaints management system was established
- A public website was also developed for the Consumer Protection Commission
- The capacity of the state bodies to protect and promote consumer rights were enhanced.
- Hence, the need to replicate the experience in transitioning or developing countries, to adopt consumer protection legislation and establish consumer protection institutions at large.