Climate Change Adaptation in Transboundary Flood Risk Management in the Western Balkans

Project description

Title: Climate Change Adaptation in Transboundary Flood Risk Management in the Western Balkans
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Countries: Southeastern Europe (Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia)
Lead executing agencies: Albania: Ministry of Tourism and Environment; Kosovo: Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning; Macedonia: Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning; Montenegro: Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism 
Overall term: 2012 to 2018

Floods 2010 in Shkodra region


The Drin River Basin is home to 1.6 million people in the Western Balkans. Their lives depend on this system, which provides the resources they need for electricity generation, irrigation, fishing and recreational activities. Increasing floods and droughts in the Mediterranean region, and especially in the Western Balkans, will pose ever greater risks to the economy, flora, fauna and human health.

Over the past few years, the frequency and severity of natural disasters (mainly floods and droughts) in the Western Balkans region has increased substantially. Climate change is causing intensive flooding to affect the living conditions of the population along the Drin River Basin. Climate projection models predict flooding is likely to increase  in the coming years. The consequences of flooding include damage to property, destruction of crops, and loss of livestock, with severe economic impacts for communities. All riparian countries (Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia) clearly see a need for joint action in terms of preparedness, response and recovery, to successfully face the consequences of these events and adapt to predicted changes.

Resilience towards climate change along the river basin can be increased through better transboundary cooperation, better information channels, and improved preparedness and adaptation.


Improved flood risk management in the countries of the Drin River Basin.

Measurements of water level


The project focuses on the Drin River Basin, and supports national institutions in Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and the Drin Core Group (DCG) as a regional structure that could be the precursor of a Drin River Basin Commission. Project support consists of advisory services by international, regional and local experts, in-service training measures, and procurement of equipment and materials.

The project acts in three key areas:

  • Flood forecasting and warning: In addition to extending the hydro-meteorological measurement network, the project supports the establishment of a regional flood forecasting system which will include increased availability of real-time hydrological and meteorological data.
  • Transboundary cooperation: The project supports the systematic identification and mapping of main flood risk areas in the Drin River Basin, in compliance with the EU Flood Directive. This will provide the basis for planning  preventive measures for flood protection. Cooperation in the field of flood risk management will be extended in the framework of the Drin Core Group.
  • Resilience and flood risk reduction at the local level: The project assists local authorities in Albania and Montenegro to implement adaptation measures as part of their flood risk management plans (supported during the previous phase of the project). One of the project’s aims is to increase awareness and preparedness of the affected population, strengthening the capacities of local players in terms of better flood risk management.


The project strengthens capacities for climate change adaptation and improves transboundary flood risk management in the Drin River Basin.

The national hydro-meteorological services of the four riparian countries now have a regional flood forecasting system. As a result, around 30,000 people potentially affected by floods can be warned in advance. The riparian countries have now more and better real time hydrological and meteorological data exchanged across borders. 

A long-term goal of cross-border cooperation among the Drin riparian countries is to have joint regional flood risk management. Technical expertise is being provided to riparian countries for the identification and mapping of areas with significant flood risk in the Drin Basin. This is part of a preliminary flood risk assessment, following the EU Flood Directive. The development of a catalogue of joint measures for the whole region is of key importance to better transboundary response to floods.

Local authorities in the risk-affected areas of Albania and Montenegro have implemented adaptation measures as part of their flood risk management plans.

The recent flood events in early 2018 showed that the measures supported by the project are already taking effect and that the risk of damage can be reduced.