Water Access, Pollution Realities in Naryn: EBRD to fund FS, Project

Sampling city water in Naryn

Instead of conjuring up mining related pollution problems (see also Postcard from Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic), the City of Naryn and multilateral lenders seem to be embracing the realities associated with dilapidated water and waste water treatment systems.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p27qSt-yH

In June 2013, EBRD announced a procurement opportunity to support the City of Naryn with its request to finance the rehabilitation of the water supply and selected wastewater improvements in the city.

As noted in EBRD’s procurement notice, water supply operations in the Kyrgyz Republic are characterized by severely deteriorated assets for water supply and wastewater collection; very limited wastewater treatment; high operations and maintenance costs due to the deteriorated state of the assets; unreliable water supply, sometimes only 2 hours every second day; families storing water in bathtubs and buckets when supply is available; outbreaks of water borne diseases, especially during summer; and, low institutional capacity to manage operationally and financially sustainable water supply services.

As I can confirm from my own site visit to Naryn (see picture sampling public water supply above) in response to NGO and other comments about pollution problems from the Kumtor mine (located some 200 km upstream), Naryn household connection rates to water are significantly below those in the capital region and do not meet potable quality standards. This results in a high prevalence of water borne diseases, as I also learned from studies conducted by UNICEF in 2011. This study highlighted that, in the Naryn Oblast (province), 70 percent of the schools studied never had sewage or water supply systems. And the EC-funded development of the Naryn Environmental (Ecological) Action Plan also identified other real issues of concern ranging from pollution from local coal mining to inadequate waste management (see report posted here: BIOM Naryn EMP 2011 - ПЛАН ЭКОЛОГИЧЕСКОГО УПРАВЛЕНИЯ НАРЫНСКОЙ ОБЛАСТИ).

The EBRD-funded project is hoping to create inclusion impacts on three levels: a significant increase of water connections in relation to the total population in Naryn; continuous 24 hour supply for all connected households; and an increase of the quality of water at the end-user point for all connected households. The EBRD-funded feasibility study is designed to support the assessment of the potential inclusion element of the Project by providing a baseline against relevant indicators and by developing a methodology to monitor progress throughout the project delivery and evaluation phases.

The investment cost for the proposed Project seem modest and, given Kyrgyzstan economic conditions, will be subsidized with grants. The estimated total investment is EUR 5 million, of which EUR 2.0 million would be a loan and the remainder would be a grant towards capital expenditures. One hopes that the implementation will not have the same challenges experienced by the  Almaty–Bishkek Road Rehabilitation Project, which was also funded by multilateral lenders. A joint evaluation report by the ADB and EBRD shows that the total project cost over-runs were only about 8.2%. This seems pretty good until you read on: the construction period took six years, instead of the planned 3-year schedule, and the Kyrgyz section was halved from 41 km down to a total of 19.3 km to remain within available financial resources. Not sure if building ‘half a treatment plant’ is an option that works and can deliver the expected outcomes...