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Water sector infrastructure in Serbia, both of the water supply and of wastewater disposal/treatment, is in poor condition. Only 75 per cent of the entire Serbian population are connected to water services, and a mere 46 per cent are connected to sewerage services. In addition, only 10 per cent of wastewater collected is treated according to recommended standards and protocols1.

The coverage of Serbian water infrastructure shows a considerable urban–rural disparity. The urban population (around half of Serbia’s total population) experiences better connection rates than their rural peers, but increased urbanisation and previous underinvestment has led to an urgent need to upgrade to ensure the supply of high-quality water and sewerage infrastructure.

In April 2015 the EBRD announced a €13 million loan to Belgrade Waterworks and Sewerage, a public utility, to finance critical water supply improvements in the city of Belgrade. The loan will be used to fully operationalise a newly constructed water treatment plant; de-pollute Belgrade’s key water reservoir; and increase operating efficiencies through replacing a major water supply pipeline and refurbishing Jezero, a section of Belgrade’s central water treatment plant Makis, which treats 40 per cent of Belgrade’s water.

Additional grant funding for this project was provided by the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund and Austria, for a total amount of €795,000.

This project places the EBRD at the forefront of municipal reform in Serbia and increasing access to a vital service such as clean drinking water will bring substantial environmental and public health benefits as the project progresses.

1 UNDP Report