The Drina River Basin (DRB) has a total surface area of 19,570 km2 and covers territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) (37.1%), Montenegro (31.6%), Serbia (30.5%) and Albania (less than 1%).

The World Bank is supporting a more effective water resources management in DRB, taking into consideration flood and drought mitigation, sustainable water use and environmental management.





The DRB is part of the larger Sava River Basin which is again part of the Danube River System. It is an abundant source of biodiversity and the river has high flow rates and generally good water quality characteristics, making it particularly suitable for hydropower potential such as the Bajina Basta Hydropower Plant (HPP). Notwithstanding, some 60% of this potential is still not utilised. In addition tourism is important; the Tara Canyon in Montenegro is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the DRB as a whole, has exceptional natural beauty.

Besides hydropower and tourism, the DRB is important for water supply for human consumption, for recreation, fisheries (commercial and sporting) and irrigation. The Basin has experienced major floods in recent years, especially in 2010 and in May 2014 that caused loss of life and major destruction, principally due to the inadequate flood preparedness and flood protection measures. Notwithstanding, seasonal droughts have also occurred which affect biodiversity, fisheries, groundwater supply and agriculture.

The Drina River also forms the international boundary along some of its reaches between Serbia and BiH and periodically shifts its course through meandering that can lead to boundary disputes.

There is generally insufficient cooperation between the water management and energy sectors in the basin which has been a major weakness for implementation of flood protection and flood control activities. In the longer terms this lack of cooperation represents a major impediment to longer term development scenarios involving investment plans and “trade-offs” between the different water users.



The Project is being undertaken with World Bank funding by a Joint Venture (JV) from COWI AS of Norway as lead, together with STUCKY LTD from Switzerland and Jaroslav Cerni Institute from Serbia. The JV is also supported locally by CeS COWI from Belgrade and the Faculty of Civil Engineering, University of Belgrade.

The JV partners understand that there has been no comprehensive review on the data since 1992 and information exchange between the riparian countries is unsatisfactory and very challenging for the different riparian states. This implies that analysis (e.g. flood analysis and forecasting) is often performed separately, which makes decision-making for flood protection and infrastructure investments extremely difficult.



The World Bank and others are attempting to resolve this situation (especially in the light of the May 2014 flood event) and there are a number of initiatives that have started or are about to commence, namely:

  • Technical Assistance (TA) West Balkans Regional Initiative on Flood and Drought Management (WBFDI).
  • GEF funded - West Balkans Drina River Basin Management Project which is in preparation and planned for 2015-2018.
  • TA Balkan / South Europe Energy Strategy 2014 (to be confirmed) which will assess among other things the hydropower generation potential in Drina Basin.
  • IPA funded Digital terrain mapping and flood risk mapping 2014-2015 that will survey selected parts of the Drina River Valley.
  •  EU and IPA funded River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) 2012-2014 for the International Sava River Basin Commission (ISRBC).
  • IDA funded, Drina BiH Flood Project 2015-2018 for BiH only in Gorazde and Bijeljina with rehabilitation of dikes and river bank.
  • IDA funded Investment – Serbia Irrigation and Drainage II Project 2016-2020 for Serbia only in Zvornik area on right bank of Drina.
  •  IDA funded investment – Bosnia Agriculture and Rural Development Project (flood component) 2010 – 2016 for protective dikes and bank rehabilitation along Drina River.
  •  EIB funded Sava Flood Project 2013 – 2020 – BiH only – dikes, pumps and bank rehabilitation along Sava and Junction of Drina in Bijeljina area
  • West Balkans Investment Fund (WBIF) Flood Forecasting Project – with ISRBC.
  • Emergency Floods Recovery Project – BiH only.
  • Floods Emergency Recovery Project – Serbia only



These projects have been prepared and reviewed in close consultation with stakeholders from the three riparian countries, as well as with the International Sava River Basin Commission (ISRBC).

For example, an important recommendation from the WBFDI is that flood risk management should not be isolated from the other water management issues in the Basin. Hence the integrated river basin management approach is necessary to be implemented in order to support sustainable development. In essence this is the rationale for the preparation of the Drina RBMP or country equivalent documentation and associated studies.

Such documentation will:

  • Enable basin strategies to be devised that support national and regional economic and social development objectives, e.g., for energy, environment and tourism.
  • Clarify through analysis the trade-offs between different investment choices, e.g. between hydropower maximization and environment.
  • Identify win-win solutions, e.g. where new and existing reservoirs can produce hydropower, and at the same time store water to mitigate droughts and floods; or where re-creation of flood plains encourages wildlife and fisheries and at the same time stores floodwater in groundwater aquifers.

Hence the overall objective of this project is to support more effective water resources management in the Drina river basin with a special focus on flood and drought mitigation, and hydropower and environmental management, based on “best available technology” and “best management practices” within the framework of integrated water resource management (i.e. through EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) and other EU water related directives)

The JV Partners understand that this project will contribute to the improvement of the existing plans and strategies that would result in identification of the priority operational and investment interventions.

The JV Partners also understand that the Project would provide necessary support to the water management authorities in BiH, Montenegro and Serbia for the preparation of the country reports for IWRM and the associated Investment Prioritization Framework leading to the preparation of a Drina Roof Report which would assist for the preparation of a RBMP or country equivalent document. The RBMP is a requirement of the EU WFD that needs to be made for the next 6 years both for international and national watercourses and is undertaken in accordance with the respective countries Water Laws, EU water policy in general, and the EU WFD and Floods Directive in particular. This will include a program of necessary measures that will have to be identified for implementation.