A Review of Rural Water and Sanitation Services in Seven Countries of the Danube Region Beyond Utility Reach? How to Close the Urban - Rural Access Gap.

Danube Study

© 2018 World Bank • World Bank

Project starts: 2017
Project finished: 2018
Collaborators & Partners: The World Bank, Danube Water Programme + inputs from Skat-Apasan (Moldova)
Funder: The World Bank Group


Governments of countries of the Danube region face the double challenge of meeting their citizens’ demand for quality and sustainable water services, while catching up with the environmental requirements of the European Union (EU). In general, the bulk of public investments have targeted urban areas, resulting in the improvement of drinking water systems and the development of wastewater collection and treatment infrastructure. This process is largely driven by EU accession and compliance targets and in several countries involves the regionalization of service providers.

However, rural areas are lagging and significant service access gaps exist in comparison with urban areas. Approximately 28.5 million people remain without access to piped water supply and 22 million remain without flush toilet access in the region (World Bank 2015), of which at least eight out of 10 reside in rural areas. Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) underlines the countries’ commitment to achieving universal access to safe and affordable drinking water and safe sanitation and hygiene for all by 2030 (WHO/UNICEF 2017). Understanding how to effectively reach the rural population with “safely managed services” is paramount from the social inclusion as well as the human rights perspective.

Project Description

Given that the significant access gaps are a major barrier to fulfilling the SDGs, this study was launched to increase awareness and knowledge on how rural service provision is organized, to understand whether and how the aggregation through regional water utilities has effectively reached rural areas, and to present lessons and recommendations for expanding and improving the provision of services for rural populations. Seven countries—Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine—were selected because they represent a wide range of rural water outcomes, different challenges, and sector reform contexts.

More Information

» Report: A Review of Rural Water and Sanitation Services in Seven Countries of the Danube Region

» RWSN webinar: Achieving the SDGs: How Supported self-supply and other management models can help to achieve universal access

This webinar presents perspectives from developing and developed countries on the potential for supported self-supply to help close the rural access gap for water supply. You will hear about the experiences of different countries on promoting this approach from a regulatory and policy-making point of view, as well as the findings of a multi-country study recently undertaken by the World Bank in the Danube region.

» Skat/ApaSan Project (Moldova)

The rural population`s access to safe water supply and sanitation in Moldova is seriously limited. People in rural areas suffer much worse conditions than their urban counterparts, and within rural areas, it is the poorest and weakest groups that have lowest access to good services. Water and sanitation sector institutions in Moldova face serious challenges in better responding to the needs of the rural population. The ApaSan project combines policy influencing, institutional strengthening and support to infrastructure development with the aim to enable Moldovan institutions at all levels to better respond to the needs for water supply and sanitation services of the rural population, including the most vulnerable.

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