“WSSP in the Balkan region” project @ the EXI Conference

The annual conference of the Export Initiative Environmental Protection (EXI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection took place on the 1st and 2nd of September 2022 in Berlin. Our project “Water and Sanitation Safety Planning in the Balkan region” is part of the programme and funded by the EXI, and therefore, colleagues Bistra Mihaylova and Annika Strebel together with project partners, participated in the 2 days event. 

Around 150 representatives from business, research and development, non-governmental organizations and various federal ministries took part to exchange views on the key fields of action of the funding program: recycling management, water and wastewater technology, and green hydrogen and fuel cell technology. The conference was a great way to be involved in the ongoing innovative activities among the EXI program and to take the opportunity to share the achieved results in the Balkans with different stakeholders – schools, university and relevant institutions.

Our project focuses on introducing and further developing the Water and Sanitation Safety Planning (WSSP) instrument in the target countries Romania, North Macedonia, Albania and Serbia. Project partners present at the conference included Natasha Dokovska (Journalists for Human Rights) from North Macedonia, Aleksandra Mladenovic (Environmental Ambassadors for Sustainable Development) from Serbia, Bujana Xhindoli (Milieukontakt) and Besjan Kurdari (Women in Development Shkoder) from Albania and Monica Isacu (Aquademica Foundation) from Romania.

In the countries in which our partners operate, there is a lack of sustainable water and sanitation management in rural areas. In some cases, this has serious consequences for the environment and the health of the population there. WSSP shows methods for risk analysis and assessment of water and sanitation systems and explains measures to minimise risks as well as to improve the water and sanitation situation. A WSSP-compendium, already developed and based on WHO guidelines, is made available to different stakeholders from education, administration, politics and institutions. In North Macedonia and Albania, training courses are being held for this purpose, building on trainings from the previous project; in Serbia, WSSP is being introduced for the first time. Media campaigns and public relations work are used to sensitize the local population to the issue, thereby promoting social awareness and the ability to act on one’s own responsibility in the field. In Romania and North Macedonia, an online educational portal “Water Classroom” on water, sanitation, wastewater and the environment is being developed to help teachers integrate WSSP into their schedules and Curriculum. The North Macedonian partners promoted further activities on WSSP at national and local level in round tables with political decision makers. Finally, a revised, extended and updated edition of the WSSP-Compendium will be published, taking into account the results of the educational activities and the educational portal. 

We look forward to having the possibility for expanding the activities on WSSP and combining them with another thematic issues – such as climate action – in the Balkan region.

More information about the project can be found under the WSSP Programme page: https://www.wecf.org/wssp/
For further questions, please contact bistra.mihaylova@wecf.org, or verena.demmelbauer@wecf.org


Copyright of pictures used: Kamil Janus