EU Water Initiative (EUWI): Water Policy Reforms in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA)


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The European Union Water Initiative (EUWI) supports the achievement of the water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and takes a partnership approach with national governments, donors, the water industry, NGOs and other stakeholders.

A key operational tool of the EUWI is the Water Framework Directive (WFD) which can be tailored to respond to local conditions and priorities. The OECD and UNECE are implementing partners of the EUWI in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA). To find out more, follow the links below.

The EUWI in EECCA and its Major Outcomes

The EUWI+ Programme
National policy dialogues (NPDs)  EUWI Implementation:
OECD and UNECE as strategic partners


The EUWI in EECCA and its Major Outcomes

Countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) are currently adopting a range of policy reforms with regard to water management in cooperation with the EUWI. The EUWI EECCA component is financially supported by the European Union and other donors.


© Maxim Petrichuk |

Key objectives

 Water resources management:

- Improving the institutional and regulatory framework with a view to approximate to the WFD and related legislation;
- Managing water in a way that contributes to water-, food- and energy security, and economic development;

Water supply and sanitation:
Ensuring access of the poor to essential water services as a basic human right;
- Improving the institutional and regulatory framework;
- Encouraging investment in water supply and sanitation and ensuring the financial viability of utilities;
- Safeguarding public health;

Transboundary cooperation:
 Contributing to peace by developing inter-state cooperative structures for water management.


The EUWI+ Programme

The European Union Water Initiative Plus for Eastern Partnership Countries (EUWI+) Programme commenced in late 2016 and aims to address existing challenges in both development and implementation of efficient management of water resources in Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. It specifically supports the EaP countries to move towards the approximation to EU acquis in the field of water management with a focus on trans-boundary river basin management as identified by the EU Water Framework Directive.

National Policy Dialogues (NPDs)

National Policy Dialogues are platforms where key stakeholders meet to discuss and advance policy reforms. NPDs are fed by robust analytical work and international good practice. They are jointly facilitated by the OECD and UNECE.

The EUWI EECCA Working Group

The Working Group consists of representatives of all partner countries (EECCA countries and their partners supporting the reform of water policies). It involves NGOs, private sector and international organisations active in the region as well. Romania acts as Chair of the EECCA Working Group. The Working Group meets once a year, to set priorities, review major EU and EECCA developments regarding water management policies and share the experience of partner countries and information about relevant projects.


The recent meetings were held in: 

 ‌EUWI Photo 19th Water Meeting 2

EUWI Implementation: OECD and UNECE as strategic partners

The European Union identified the OECD and the UNECE as strategic partners for the implementation of the EUWI in EECCA. The OECD focuses on the economic dimension of water resources management: managing water as a driver for growth; making the best use of economic instruments for water management; and enhancing the financial sustainability of water supply and sanitation services. The OECD’s contribution is provided within the framework of the GREEN Action Programme. The UNECE is the strategic partner for work on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), including transboundary river basin management. It contributes to the approximation of the EU acquis, building on the Water Convention and its Protocol on Water and Health.


 Tajikistan Irrigation 2020 brochure cover

Policy Perspectives for Irrigation Sector in Tajikistan: A paper for Decision Makers

In 2017-18, the Organisation for Economic Co operation and Development (OECD) provided support to the Tajikistan Government Agency for Land Reclamation and Irrigation (ALRI). This OECD Policy Perspectives summary paper gives an overview of the main challenges to irrigation sector reform in Tajikistan. These include improving economic sustainability of the land reclamation and irrigation sector, strengthening institutional governance structures, and rehabilitating and modernising the irrigation and drainage infrastructure.

Water Sanitation in Moldova_Cover

OECD Studies on Water: Enhancing the Economic Regulatory System for Moldova's Water Supply and Sanitation

This report aims to support the development of a sound economic regulatory system for the water supply and sanitation (WSS) sector in the Republic of Moldova (hereafter “Moldova”). The prevailing policy framework calls for drastic developments in WSS to modernise and optimise WSS systems and improve operational efficiency (non-revenue water, staff-output ratios etc.) – in line with domestic and international commitments (including the Association Agreement with the European Union, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the national WSS strategy). This report outlines ways and means for strengthening the capacity of the Moldovan government to provide sound regulation and that of WSS operators to deliver higher standards of service while ensuring the affordability of WSS services. Such a transition cannot happen overnight. It requires a sound economic regulatory system conducive to affordability, cost recovery and debt servicing, and a realistic performance improvement path for water utilities.

 Water Studies Cover_Shardara MPWI

OECD Studies on Water: Strengthening Shardara Multi-Purpose Water Infrastructure in Kazakhstan

More than 8 000 large multi-purpose water infrastructures (MPWIs) around the world contribute to economic development, as well as water, food and energy security, encompassing all human-made water systems including dams, dykes, reservoirs and associated irrigation canals and water supply networks. Focused on the specific case of the Shardara MPWI located in Low Syr-Darya Basin, South Kazakhstan and Kyzyl-Orda oblasts (provinces) of Kazakhstan, this report looks at the choice and design of MPWI investment strategies that ensure a high economic return on investments and potential bankability, based on application of a computer model and lessons learned from 15 international MPWI case studies.

 Georgia Water Cover

OECD Studies on Water: Facilitating the Reform of Economic Instruments for Water Management in Georgia

This study assesses the use of economic instruments for water resources management in Georgia and considers options for reform following the 2014 signature of an Association Agreement with the EU committing to alignment with the EU’s Water Framework Directive. This includes the systematic use of economic instruments, including water pricing, to recover the cost of water services provided to households, industry and farmers, among other measures.

Moldova's Water Sanitation Sector_PubCover

OECD Studies on Water: Improving Domestic Financial Support Mechanisms in Moldova's Water Sanitation Sector

The water supply and sanitation (WSS) sector in Moldova is not financially sustainable: tariffs do not typically cover operational costs and capital investments are heavily funded by external development partners. This report analyses several options for streamlining and strengthening domestic financial support mechanisms (DFSMs) in terms of both supply and demand, discusses different scenarios and recommends a number of actions to ensure effective DFSM implementation, notably: 1) sufficient investment for the implementation of targets and obligations set in the national strategies, the Association Agreement with the EU, as well as Moldova’s international commitments (water-related Sustainable Development Goals, and the “Water-to-all” commitment); 2) the financial sustainability of operators; and 3) the affordability of WSS services for end-users, especially low-income segments of the population.

MPWI_Perspectives Cover

OECD Policy Perspectives: Multi-Purpose Water Infrastructure - Recommendations to maximise ecomomic benefits

Multi-purpose water infrastructure encompasses all constructed water systems, including dams, dykes, reservoirs and associated irrigation canals and water supply networks, which may be used for more than one purpose for economic, social and environmental activities. This OECD policy perspective, Multi-Purpose Water Infrastructure : Recommendations to maximise economic benefits, presents insights for effectively managing MPWIs.

Water series Armenia cover

OECD Water Series Publication: Reforming Sanitation in Armenia: Towards a National Strategy

This report assesses the state of Armenia’s sanitation services, which are in poor shape, and proposes ways forward for reforming the sector by: ensuring equitable access by all and identifying solutions that work for the poorest and most remote communities; generating economies of scale and scope, and reducing both investment and operational costs for the efficient delivery of sanitation services; and moving towards sustainable cost recovery for the sanitation sector, by identifying how much funding can be mobilised from within the sector and how much external transfers are required.

EUWI Brochure Cover - updated 2016

Water Policy Reforms in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia - Achievements of the European Union Water Initiative, 2006-16

The brochure highlights the main outcomes to which the EUWI contributed in the EECCA countries over the past 10 years.

 EUWI Baikal Report Cover

OECD Water Series Publication: Improving Economic Instruments for Water Resources Management in the Republic of Buryatia (Lake Baikal Basin)

A major challenge facing the Republic of Buryatia, subject of the Russian Federation, is how to balance the task of protecting Lake Baikal with the need for dynamic and sustainable socio-economic development of the republic. The recommendations in this report include the introduction of abstraction charges for irrigation water as a  natural resource; and improvement of economic instruments for managing risks of water-related hazards. Innovative instruments, such as introducing a charge (tax) on toxic agricultural chemicals to create incentives for the reduction of diffuse water pollution, are recommended for pilot testing.


OECD Water Series Publication: Reforming Economic Instruments for Water Resources Management in Kyrgyzstan

This report presents recommendations on the reform of economic instruments for water resources management in Kyrgyzstan, specifically on tariffs for urban water supply and sanitation (WSS) and irrigation water, pollution charges, surface water abstraction charges for enterprises (consumptive and non-consumptive uses), specific land tax rates for the Issyk-Kul biosphere reserve, as well as taxes and customs duty on products contributing to water pollution. 

KAZ Report cover_water series

OECD Water Series Publication: Sustainable Business Models for Water Supply and Sanitation in Small Towns and Rural Settlements in Kazakhstan

This report assesses the Republic of Kazakhstan’s significant efforts to improve water supply and sanitation (WSS) services over the past 15 years, notably in terms of ambitious target-setting, implementation of a sound water tariff policy, and significant investment in the rehabilitation and development of relevant infrastructure. Generally speaking, the absence of updated data on WSS institutional development is a limiting factor for further policy and programme development in the field, including in Kazakhstan. The monitoring and evaluation system proposed in this report aims to help assess progress in the WSS sector and serve as a basis for any necessary corrective measures.


EUWI Kura Basin Policy Highlights cover, 2016  OECD Policy Highlights 2016 - Co-operative water management in the Kura River basin

The basin of the river Kura is shared by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey. The river is 1,515 km long; it originates in Turkey, on the north slope of the Allahuekber Mountains, and discharges to the Caspian Sea. This review focuses on co-operative water management in Georgia and Azerbaijan, which are neighboring countries hosting a significant stretch of the Kura River.

EUWI Economic Instruments Policy Perspectives 2016 cover

OECD Policy Perspectives 2016 - Reforming economic instruments for water management in EECCA countries

This Policy Perspective summarises key policy messages and recommendations on the role of economic instruments in addressing challenges and achieving key water policy objectives including relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) countries.


Project summary record: using a systems analysis approach to strategic planning of water resources and water infrastructure under high uncertainty and conflicting interests

This document presents an overview of an innovative, participatory approach to strategic planning that was developed and pilot tested under the project “Policies to enhance environmental performance and resource security in EECCA (Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia)”. It was delivered by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in July-December 2018 in partnership with the OECD and with financial support from the Government of Norway. The approach builds upon qualitative systems analysis methods, including multi-criteria decision analysis and scenario building to inform decision-making. It aims at devising robust long-term water strategies by enabling stakeholders to produce strategic objectives, analyse enabling factors to achieve these objectives, recognise conflicting interests, key trade-offs and derive robust policies. The document summarises how the participatory approach was used for a regional capacity building event for Eastern Partnership countries in 2018. The event leveraged synergies with local capacity development for strategic planning for water resources ongoing under the EU Water Initiative Plus project.

Further reading