BANJALUKA, October 30th – Packages of protective equipment and disinfectants were handed over today to selected public utility companies and local governments as a form of support by German Development Cooperation in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Packages containing disinfectants, masks, gloves, protective suits, visors, were provided by GIZ on behalf of the German Government within the Open Regional Fund for the Modernization of Municipal Services. The total value of the support is 50,000 euros, and the cities covered in the first round of package distribution are: Gračanica, Sanski Most, Srebrenik, Velika Kladuša, Gradiška, Kotor Varoš, Laktaši, Prnjavor, Trebinje and Banja Luka.
Zoran Popović, President of the Association "Vodovodi Republike Srpske" and Director of the Public Utility Company "Vodovod" (Waterworks) from Banja Luka said that the support of the German Government was very important and that the equipment would greatly help in the work and protection of employees and consumers in direct contact. Banja Luka Waterworks is the largest in Republika Srpska, over 7,000 water quality controls are performed annually, and the number of controls has increased due to the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus.
He especially emphasized the cooperation of the Association "Vodovodi RS" with the GIZ. „Two years ago, we signed a contract with GIZ, ever since they support us train staff, and there are a number of projects related to water services, in terms of solving the problems of network losses and wastewater, and further cooperation has been announced”
Through regional networking and cooperation with the private sector, Germany is working to introduce best practices in more than 120 companies across the region whose business is water management.
According to Selim Babić, President of the Association of Public Utility Employers of the Federation of BIH, water supply is running smoothly. Especially because of the state of the pandemic, additional efforts are being made not to jeopardize the continuity of water supply and water quality at any time. "Cooperation of the Association of Public Utility Employers in FBiH (UPKP FBiH), i.e. public utility companies that are our members, with GIZ is very important, given the specifics and scope of work they perform. Such activities enable monitoring of global trends in the field of utilities and integration into processes that will be crucial in the future, especially for small developing countries such as BiH," says Babić and adds that the Association of Public Utility Employers of in the Federation of BiH has received significant support from GIZ through several projects in the water supply and sewerage and municipal waste disposal sector, which opens up numerous other business opportunities.
The support of German development cooperation in combating the COVID-19 pandemic is of special value for smaller local communities.
Edin Kekić, director of the Public Utility Company "Vodovodi i kanalizacija" d.o.o. from Velika Kladuša pointed out that citizens in this difficult and crisis situation expect this company to provide a complete service, especially because of its role and importance, work is performed also in extremely difficult conditions. " Special emphasis should be placed on the efforts that the employees of the utility company make every day, taking care of the hygienic and health harmlessness of the water, "says Kekić and adds," GIZ is with us in these very difficult times. This donation will indirectly improve the quality of our services through continuous water supply of our citizens. It will also contribute to fulfilling sanitary and hygienic conditions for work rooms, warehouses, offices and the like, as well as to protection of PUC employees from COVID-19 virus."
Ljubiša Sibinčić, director of the Utility Company "Vodovod" from Prnjavor, which is also covered by a donation from the German government, points out that the donated funds and equipment were very important in the situation they were in and that the donation was very valuable.
“Cooperation with the GIZ began in 2018, and that helped us a lot in terms of infrastructure facilities that are located within our water supply system. We now have the primary and secondary network drawn, all objects, profiles, lengths, materials and pipes and we are working on networking via GIS software. Cooperation with the GIZ has also helped us to have a complete overview of our water supply system and based on that we make water balances and we monitor exactly the status of the respective positions, networks and many more details, " Sibinčić emphasized.
The spread of the corona virus has not had a significant impact on the quality of drinking water in BiH, says Vesna Muslić from the Association for Water and Environmental Protection Aquasan, adding that there were problems attributable to climate change or prolonged droughts or periods of heavy rainfall, which bring fecal and microbiologically loaded water with them very quickly. “GIZ projects are very important because they provide support in the adoption of new findings and in the establishment of good practices in BiH and the region, as well as the exchange of knowledge and experiences among stakeholders in this sector.” Muslić emphasized
Peter Wolf, Sector Manager of the Open Regional Fund for Southeast Europe – “Modernization of Municipal Services”, thanked the selected local public utility companies in BiH, saying that the goal was to support modernize municipal services, both in general services and in the management sector, through regional networking and cooperation. Due to the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus, local governments and public utility companies are more than ever under pressure to provide adequate services and respond to high hygiene standards. „In BiH, in the fight against the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus, we want to give special support to public utility companies in form of protective equipment and means to provide adequate service and responses to high hygiene standards in the protection of plants, workplaces, public areas and of course, in order to protect the employees in the best possible way. German Development Cooperation has developed measures to strengthen their capacity to meet these challenges, and the total value of support in protective equipment and disinfectants for all 6 countries in the region amounts to 400,000 euros “.