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Transport, Infrastructure and Building

Vulnerabilities – Dams and Reservoirs

Moldova has already developed a large network of ponds and reservoirs for inter-seasonal and inter-annual redistribution of water. Existing dams and reservoirs, as well as additional ones could help in redistributing precipitation between seasons, serving as an important object for both water storage and diminishing flash flood risk. However, in the context of Moldova using and even extending the network of reservoirs as the main adaptation solution to provide for sufficient fresh water in the summer is problematic because (1):

  • a lack of maintenance work in the case of older dams (as well as dykes) will certainly lead to dam breaks and an increased risk of extreme flooding, and
  • it is expected that the efficiency of building dams for water storage will diminish (especially in the south) compared to the present situation due to a decrease in stream flow on the rivers that feed certain dam lakes and because of an increase in potential evapotranspiration (as projected by the models).

Vulnerabilities – Transport – Shipping

Despite rapid growth in cargo transportation in 2006-2008, currently the internal waterways have a negligible role in passenger transportation and a minor one in freight transportation (about 1.3% of total in 2008). The Dniester and Prut rivers are navigable only partially because of accumulated mire, inadequate use of dams, and a lack of dredging equipment for ensuring the necessary depth for free vessels’ traffic. It is clear that because of its negative impact on water resources, the changing climate conditions can impose even more hurdles on the objective of developing a river transportation system (1).

Lower levels of water would first of all impair the circulation of the vessels and involve significant engineering works for the adaptation of the port infrastructure. Lower water levels also mean that ships will not be able to carry as much cargo. Lower water levels will also significantly constrain the flow of the river traffic, possibly even requiring additional engineering works to allow for two-way traffic (1).

Vulnerabilities – Transport - Road

Moldova’s roads are perceived as the worst in the transition country group and the worst in Europe. While in 1992 about 70% of the total roads network was assessed as being of good or satisfactory quality, in 2006 only 7% received this qualification. Long-lasting heat-waves can worsen or even destroy the asphalt pavement of the national roads. This phenomenon has already been witnessed both in 2003 and 2007, when longer periods of high temperatures were registered (1).

Reduced humidity will likely reduce the risk of landslides and soil erosions which presently affect many national roads in Moldova. Also, less precipitation and higher temperatures in the winter mean fewer costs for snow and ice control measures on the roads. However, a change in precipitation patterns is very likely to negatively affect local roads which are not covered with an asphalt surface and have shallow roadbeds (1).

As winters in the 21st century in Moldova become warmer and wetter, many local roads are likely to become impracticable due to moisture and mud. As a result, many more rural communities will become virtually separated from the rest of the country during the winter season or in rainy periods (there are about 40 such communities at present) (1).

Heavy local rains associated with storms and hail, frequently coming after periods with extremely high temperatures, will likely have the most detrimental effects on transportation. The rainfall water collection system is outdated and unable to accommodate heavy rain episodes (1).

Vulnerabilities – Transport – Rail

Generally, railways are in a slightly better condition compared to the roads, however they are not radically better. Only 100 km out of a total of 1,318 km of the railway system is electrified and only 140 km is double track. All the rolling stock has been inherited from the USSR and is in a very poor condition. High temperatures in the summertime can cause deformation of the railroad lines which are already old and worn-out, can accelerate the physical obsolesce of metallic parts in bridges, and even cause thermal deformation. In all cases significant limits to traffic speed and load weight can be necessary, as well as restricting transportation of heavy loads to the night time (1).

Vulnerabilities – Transport – Air

The capacity of air transportation in Moldova is underused, both for passengers and freight. Warmer weather will influence runways in a similar way to automobile roads, making them softer and more liable to deformation. The only positive effect is that due to higher temperatures the costs of de-icing planes and removing of snow and ice from the runways may fall substantially, but on balance the money saved will be outweighed by the additional expenses (1).

Adaptation strategies - Dams and Reservoirs

Because dam building does not represent a solution secure enough to provide a safe water supply, this adaptation measure should be applied only after a thorough analysis of all possible alternatives. It is especially important in the case of Moldova, where, due to economic decline, the probability of dam breaks is quite high (1).

Adaptation strategies – Transport – roads and rail

As winters in Moldova will become warmer, it would be reasonable to soften requirements regarding the depth of the roadbed and to use the resources saved to improve the quality of the surface, through use of thicker layers of asphalt and less viscose materials (1).

Bridges have to be inspected more carefully and at regular intervals, particularly with the aim of discovering thermal deformations and replacing parts that are too soft with harder metal (1).

To minimize the impact of the heavy trucks on roads surface, amendments to the Road Circulation Codes need to be adopted prohibiting the circulation of heavy trucks in midday in summer. A similar recommendation is needed in the case of railroad freight transportation (1).

In the railroad sector, the electrification of the railway and replacement of diesel locomotives with electrical engines is necessary in any case in order to save money and accelerate circulation (1).

It is necessary to deepen the traffic routes in the lower Dniester and Prut rivers and make corresponding improvements to the existing ports (1).

Adaptation strategies – Buildings

Soviet-era panel-style buildings are an important consideration when planning for climate change in the region. Most block flats, which were designed to have a lifespan of about thirty years, already were in disrepair at the time the regimes fell (2). Bulgaria, for instance, recently indicated that 10% of its panel dwellings were in need of urgent repairs (2) while the Slovak Ministry of Construction estimated that it would cost over 10.3 billion Euros and take more than thirty years to complete the structural repairs necessary to ensure the safety of these buildings (3).

Although they are in need of basic renovation, there is growing evidence that panel buildings, both block flats used for housing and public buildings of similar construction, have the potential to be efficiently renovated and to incorporate energy-saving retrofits. The major aspects of retrofitting focus on energy-saving measures. These include thermal insulation, replacement windows, and modernization of central heating systems. In addition to these measures, green roofing is being tested as a further means for improving the quality of living spaces as well as a way to manage fluctuations in precipitation. Studies suggest that rooftop gardens:

  • help to control interior temperature, by decreasing the heat entering and exiting a building through the roof, and thus reduce energy demand (4). Widespread introduction of gardens will add to urban greenspace and, in the process, help moderate heat island effects.
  • can reduce the level of runoff and moderate the potential of flooding during heavy rainfall (4,5).
  • assist in harvesting rainwater. The basic idea is that rainwater is filtered into storage tanks and then used for non-potable activities such as laundry, toilets, and watering plants (6).


The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Moldova.

  1. UNDP (2009)
  2. Iliev and Yuksel (2004), in: Carmin and Zhang (2009)
  3. CiJ (2008), in: Carmin and Zhang (2009)
  4. Bass and Baskaran (2001), in: Carmin and Zhang (2009)
  5. Hadley and Carter (2006), in: Carmin and Zhang (2009)
  6. Carmin and Zhang (2009)

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