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Developing greener, more modern municipal services

By Volker Ahlemeyer

Developing greener, more modern municipal services

EBRD and its donors support vital improvements to urban infrastructure

Better water, improved public transport, cleaner cities – these are only some benefits of the EBRD’s and its donors’ activities. They improve the daily quality of life for millions of people from Morocco to Mongolia and help local businesses thrive.

“There are still some problems with the access to drinking water in Central Asia, but this is getting better and the EBRD and its partners supported our comprehensive work in Khujand,” says Sodiq Mirkhalikov, Director of the Khujand Water Company in Tajikistan.            

“This helped us improve more than 100 km of water pipes and supply and install pumping and cleaning equipment to cover more customers. We also installed water meters to introduce transparent billing and increase collection rates.”                        

In 2016, EBRD investments to modernise municipal infrastructure were supported by many donors, including the European Union, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Taipei China, United Kingdom and multi-donor Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environmental Partnership (E5P) Fund, Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership Fund (NDEP) and Early Transition Countries Fund.

This included seven water and wastewater, two district heating/energy efficiency, five municipal transport and five solid waste projects signed during 2016. The activities continued to target those countries facing the strongest transition challenges in eastern Europe, the southern Caucasus and Central Asia.

In the Kyrgyz Republic, for example, the EBRD has continued to work with the EU to improve water supply and wastewater management in secondary cities throughout the country: including Uzgen, Toktogul, Balykchi and  Maili-suu.

These efforts continue to build on the work already supported in Cholpon-Ata, Kara-Suu, Kyzyl-Kiya and Osh and are addressing urgently needed infrastructure rehabilitation needs and ensuring longer-term sustainability and resilience of the networks.

Sweden, the NDEP and other donors also extended their support for water and wastewater investments benefiting 400,000 citizens in Lida, Orsha and Polotsk in Belarus. These are expected to bring significant environmental benefits as they help local utilities upgrade wastewater treatment to EU standards and reduce pollution of the Baltic and Black Sea basins.

The EBRD also continued efforts to improve municipal transport. In Kremenchuk in Ukraine, the Bank helped the trolleybus company acquire 50 new low-floor trolleybuses and extend its service to 50,000 inhabitants living across the Dnieper River.

Moreover, 143 environmentally friendly buses are now cruising the streets of Georgia’s capital Tbilisi. Both purchases were supported by E5P* grants.

Across the EBRD regions, many urban centres struggle with increasing numbers of inhabitants and outdated, often energy-intense infrastructure or services, which contribute to increasingly poor air quality.

This is why in 2016 the Bank launched its Green Cities Framework to support governments, municipalities, municipal-owned and private companies to meet these environmental challenges and improve people’s quality of life in cities.

The EBRD started the work in Moldova’s capital Chisinau with a €10 million loan to improve energy efficiency in more than 100 public buildings. It was supported by a €5 million grant from the E5P.

Further activities are planned in 2017 with an initial focus on cities in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and in the Western Balkans.

The pressure on municipal services is also particularly high in Jordan and Turkey as a result of the large influx of Syrian refugees. This affects water and sanitation, solid waste management and urban transport. The existing infrastructure and services were already in need of an upgrade before and are now extremely stretched to serve the increasing number of people.

In 2016, the EU’s role as donor has been vital to tackle some of these challenges. A €30 million grant will help the Water Authority of Jordan construct a solar energy system to power three to five water pumping stations. This will lead to more reliable and energy efficient services.

The EU also contributed a €5 million grant to a €7.5 million EBRD loan to build a waste-to-energy plant in the Al-Shaer solid waste transfer station. This will generate enough energy to power 8,000 households annually.

The UK’s Department for International Development provided a £5 million grant to co-finance an EBRD investment worth up to €180 million to support the Greater Amman Municipality with a comprehensive solid waste programme.

This is part of a larger UK contribution of £30 million to strengthen Jordan’s capacity to cope with the refugee inflow.

Modern services and a reliable infrastructure are very much needed to support the ever-growing communities living in cities across the world.  They are also vital to build a sustainable, greener future for future generations. The EBRD and its donors are leading this effort in urban centres from Cairo to Ulaanbaatar.

*The Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership (E5P) is a multi-donor fund managed by the EBRD. Donors include the European Union (the largest contributor), Armenia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, Taipei China, Ukraine and the United States.

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