Background and Context
Water and environmental protection sector (WEP) in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) is still not given the needed priority in the society. Challenges in the sector are mainly the result of the transition process in B&H and decentralization of the WEP sector, which resulted in a series of broken linkages between relevant actors at all levels.
Lack of institutional and human capacities is very often raised as one of main reasons for poor implementation of legislation, strategies and plans as well as for slow implementation of projects and capital investments in particular.
Yet, many representatives of the WEP sector in B&H often mention activities successfully implemented to improve the WEP situation in some areas of B&H (adoption and implementation of new regulations and planning documents at cantonal and municipal level, preparation and implementation of capital projects (water and sewerage systems, WWTP), various trainings and citizen and public mobilization campaigns, etc.) and especially availability of proficient experts that most of WEP representatives have not heard about and do not know how to make use of their experiences, knowledge and good practices. There are many successful projects implemented from Bijeljina to Neum and from Bihac to Gorazde, new experiences are gained but their use is very limited i.e. it is not accessible in a timely manner for most of representatives of the WEP sector.
B&H Aquasan Network is established to improve the present situation in the WEP sector in B&H and particularly to maximize the use of domestic institutional and human resources (information, knowledge, experiences and good practices).
The following objectives are set to ensure the required improvements in the sector through the establishment of Aquasan Network:
to collect knowledge and experience of Aquasan Network members, to contribute to a better organization of the sector and to motivate other stakeholders to become active members of Aquasan Network,
to facilitate learning through the exchange of positive experiences, knowledge, information and best practices, and to contribute to capacity building in the sector,
to strengthen cooperation amongst relevant actors, particularly experts in the WEP sector, to promote and lobby for common interests of the sector, and to contribute to the recognition of the WEP sector at all levels.
Focus of Aquasan Network
Aquasan Network has focused its efforts on the long-term planning, organization and management issues from the WEP sector:
Social, economic and institutional aspects,
Governance issues (decentralization, public-private partnership, public investments, etc.),
Institutional and human capacity building,
Legislation in the WEP sector,
Level of work organization in the WEP at all levels,
Long term sustainability of projects,
Maintenance of existing infrastructure and capacity building in the sector,
Integrated water resources management,
Preparation and management of projects financed by international financial institutions in the WEP sector,
Obligations and obstacles in the WEP sector in the EU accession process,
Experiences in implementing new approaches and technologies in B&H.
Third meeting on “Preparation of tender documents according to the World Bank guidelines and contracting under FIDIC procedures”, Vitez, December 2011
Aquasan Network is driven by the team spirit of its members, equity of all members based on the culture of dialogue, commitment to experience sharing as well as on members’ commitment to make progress in the WEP sector with a common vision for improvement.
Aquasan Network members benefit personally through elaboration of key topics; they have direct access to WEPrelated information, opportunity for exchange of knowledge and learning with competent persons thus always being one step ahead of everyone else.
The interest expressed by donors and possibility to have donors supporting activities financially represents very important and positive push in the establishment of Aquasan Network as well as the opportunity (invitation) for involvement and support by other financing institutions and development banks.
Aquasan Network members are experts from the WEP sector across B&H i.e. representatives of state ministries, relevant entity and cantonal ministries, entity water agencies, municipalities, research institutes, NGOs, public water supply and utility companies and representatives of private sector including independent consultants.
Depending on their level of involvement in work of Aquasan Network, members are divided in three groups:
Core members (permanent members – driving force to ensure the continuity of the network),
Associated members (invited on specific occasions), and
Supporters (donors, financing institutions and other relevant stakeholders).
Mode of Operation
Aquasan Network is established as an informal body, but with minimum rules to be adhered to by its members:
Rotation of responsibilities (e.g. chairing the meetings),
Participation in person (for core members),
Joint decision making and planning,
Each participant representing a respective institution finances herself/himself,
Participation in relevant international events supported by the facilitator,
Secretarial tasks are entrusted to Resource Centre and Consultancies for Water and Environment “UNA Consulting” from Bihac.
Financial support to work of Aquasan Network in 2011 – 2013 is ensured by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Aquasan Network responds positively to current challenges and expectations of the participants and demonstrates the value of its establishment and operation through achieving the set objectives.
Aquasan Network Workshop
With modest financial support from SDC and “Una Consulting”, in addition to three regular meetings per year, core members organize and implement annual workshops to reflect on most urgent and most important WEP-related issues.
The workshops represent a forum for a detailed exchange, review and learning about highly-prioritized selected topics as well as tangible results.
Implemented activities of Aquasan network B&H
Throughout the meetings and workshops, Aquasan Network has elaborated on the following topics:
"Preparation and management of projects (investments) in the field of collection and treatment of wastewater, including the preparation of project implementation teams",
"Sustainability of water supply and sewerage systems through the establishment of appropriate financial policies of utility tariffs",
"Selection of appropriate wastewater treatment technologies – advantages and disadvantages, costs and benefits",
Fourth meeting on "Effective and efficient organization of the water and environmental protection sector", Teslic, April 2012
"Preparation of tender documents according to the World Bank guidelines and contracting under FIDIC procedures",
"Effective and efficient organization of the water and environmental protection sector at the municipal level",
"Challenges and experiences in obtaining and issuing approvals and licenses in the field of water and environmental protection in B&H",
"Improving the legal framework, capacity building and relationships improvement at various levels in the water and environmental sector in B&H",
"Local and regional experience in the field of decentralization and experience in management of wastewater collection and treatment projects",
"Experiences and best practices from the Regional Utility Management Conference in Tirana (Albania) – Improving Performance in Emerging Economies (IWA)"
"Efficient knowledge management” → better public services".
In the next period, Aquasan Network activities will focus on strengthening its own network in order to evolve in a relevant WEP body to ensure communication and promotion of trends, need for vertical and horizontal exchange of information, knowledge, experience and best practices as well as participation of B&H experts in national and international projects.