Kant, an industrial city of officially 22’000 inhabitants, is situated at 25 km east of the capital Bishkek. It is known locally for a brewery, a sugar factory and an air base. But it is also the first city in the Kyrgyz Republic where local water and wastewater services are operated by a private company. As a result, the water supply is available round the clock, unlike in other cities, even though Kant has not renovated the water infrastructure (owned by the city) since Soviet times.
But now the municipality can upgrade the pipes and reduce water losses, thanks to a loan and grant funding of €1.95 million from the EBRD and a grant fund of €5.7 million from the government of Switzerland within the framework of its economic cooperation and development activities. Additional grants for technical assistance are funded by the European Union and Finland.
The financing will allow Kant to renovate water supply services, which will resolve issues with water pressure in the summer, and to introduce a city-wide metering system. The project will also see the operator company, Marketing Service Ltd, introduce an environmental and social action plan.
“The EBRD believes that introducing commercial approaches to public utilities will result in better quality, more efficient and sustainable services and improve people’s lives”, said Larisa Manastirli, Head of the EBRD Resident Office in Bishkek. “We are pleased to support the city of Kant in its effort to provide reliable water and wastewater services to its citizens and this is a good example of the EBRD strategy of providing support to smaller cities throughout Kyrgyz Republic”.
“Safe and affordable water is a necessary condition for healthy people and a prosperous economy; therefore, Switzerland has been investing in the improvement of water supply services in Kyrgyzstan for many years and is happy to contribute to this promising example of private sector participation in public service delivery”, said the Swiss State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch.
The EBRD has supported water and wastewater projects in the Kyrgyz Republic, in the cities of Bishkek, Osh, Jalalabad and Karabalta. In total, the EBRD has invested about €425 million in various sectors of the Kyrgyz economy.
As part of its development cooperation programme in the Kyrgyz Republic for which more than CHF 270 million have been invested since 1993, Switzerland has co-financed three EBRD projects to improve the water sector in cities of the Kyrgyz Republic, providing over half of the total volume investments of €23 million.