E. Sector Monitoring and Benchmarking

58. Sector information is not consolidated in single institutions in any of the countries of the region. Section B highlighted the high level of atomization of policy-making responsibilities, and the absence of a single line ministry in most cases. Logically, this situation reflects on the availability of sector information, which is seldom consolidated at the sector level. In most cases, water resources management information is available from Ministries of Agriculture or Environment, drinking water quality information is available from the Ministry of Health, utility information (when available) from the regulatory authority, and sector financing is sometimes available from Ministries of Regional Development (investments). EU members fare somewhat better since they have to report in a structured way on the progress toward compliance with the Water Framework Directive and daughter directives, meaning that some of the information is consolidated using internationally defined standards, but even then it is largely limited to country-level indicators. River Basin Management Plans, a core tenet of the WFD, often give scarce attention to water and wastewater services beyond their direct relation to the plans in terms of use of water, pollution potential, and investment needs. Some of the more established regulatory authorities in the region, such as the one in Albania, have also started to develop bilateral information exchange agreements with other actors such as the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance.

Regional sector information resources:
IBNET (International Benchmarking Network for Water and Sanitation Utilities) (www.IB-Net.org) is the world’s largest database for water and sanitation utilities performance data. Supported by the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program, it has over the years accumulated a wealth of data from utilities in the Danube region, which have been used in Chapter V. Building on this invaluable resource, the Danube Water Program has launched DANUBIS.org, an online repository of resources for and about water and sanitation utilities in the Danube region. DANUBIS.org works in partnership with national stakeholders in most countries of the region and aims at consolidating information available from national sources, the IBNET, and this report.

59. Most countries in the region have some mechanism to monitor the performance of utilities in the sector, but it is seldom made publicly available. Table 7 presents an overview of institutionalized utility performance information systems and other benchmarking schemes in all countries of the region. In all countries with an established regulatory agency, the institution has taken the lead in developing at least a limited utility information system. Practices with regard to whether the information is processed into a formal regulatory ranking or performance revaluation, and whether it is made publicly available, vary, however. Only two countries, Albania and Kosovo, regularly publish an annual regulatory benchmarking report. In countries where no such institution exists, waterworks associations have often developed voluntary utility benchmarking schemes to help their members improve their performance, and in some cases to allow for more effective lobbying for greater support to the sector.