Regional Pilot Grant Scheme: Improving the Lives of Local Communities in 16 Municipalities

Regional Pilot Grant Scheme: Improving the Lives of Local Communities in 16 Municipalities

In the northern town of Tropoja, the winter has knocked on door and the streets seem almost empty with few residents silently hurrying in their daily routines. From a secondary road connected to the main boulevard noisy trucks and construction machineries are entering the city kindergarten turned into a construction site. In the kindergarten the children are substituted with the shining vests and orange helmets of the workers who are moving fast, excavating and battening the walls with insulation and cement.  We hear from the head engineer that the works should be finished by February to ensure that more than 100 kids of Tropoja enjoy a warm and safer environment for their everyday activities. According to the Mayor, Besnik Dushaj, the reconstruction of the city Kindergarten is a crucial investment and an important intervention for the children and parents of Tropoja and surrounding villages who will directly benefit from this intervention.

Project: “Reconstruction of the building of Kindergarten No.2 and adjustment of the outdoor facilities” – Tropoje 

This is just one of the 16 projects being implemented in the framework of the RDPA Pilot Grant Scheme, financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Austrian Development Agency (ADA). The scheme  aims at supporting small-scale infrastructure interventions to the benefit of local communities in Malwsia e Madhe, Mirdite, Shkoder, Diber, Durres, Shijak, Tirane, Belsh, Kucove, Librazhd, Ura Vajgurore, Fier, Kelcyre, Patos and Vlore.  The grants varying from 31 000 to 60 000 Euros targeting local communities and especially the youth and children supporting local solutions and contributing in the improvement of key educational, sport, tourism, social, cultural and community infrastructure in each of the cities. 46 Municipalities applied with concrete proposals addressing immediate local needs, which resulted in 16 awarded projects that better reflected interventions that improve the socio – economic conditions of the local communities.

Thus, in Malesia e Madhe, Belsh, Durres and in Mirdita the grants supports the development of tourism sector, more specifically in improving the touristic information, infrastructure and promoting quality local products. In addition, in Dukat Village, the Municipality of Vlora is implementing the project “Re-qualification of the center of Dukat village”, including the rehabilitation of the main square and reconstruction of the “Red School”, to be later adapted in a Museum for tourists and visitors. These projects are expected to boost the number of visitors and tourists by offering better services, access and information to tourists and visitors.

In the Municipality of Fier and Kucova the projects are oriented in improving the educational infrastructure. The city libraries are being drastically transformed, ensuring better conditions for the readers and book lovers, but also for the residents who can use the library for cultural activities. For the directors of the libraries, considering the deteriorated conditions of the buildings, such investments were a necessity to offer to the local communities a suitable environment where they can read or organize cultural events. During this Grant Scheme, a particular focus is dedicated also for supporting the well-being of youth, students and children in all the territory of Albania. As a result, in Yrshek – Municipality of Tirana, in Xhafzotaj – Municipality of Shijak, in Maqellara – Municipality of Diber and also in the Municipality of Librazhd the awarded projects are in the final phase developing important sport and outdoor infrastructure. By the end of February the youth and kids of these towns will be able to play and spend quality time in the recently constructed sport fields in their schools or dedicated sport centers in the city. Recreational green spaces are considered fundamental for the wellbeing of local communities in the urban areas, where more residents live in compact houses and apartments without backyards. In this context, the RDPA Grant Scheme supported also key interventions that developed public green spaces in various cities of Albania. In this regards, the creation of 7 recreational spaces for children and youth in the city of Patos and another 5 in Fier includes the re-conceptualization and reconstruction of the public squares in each city, with the aim to increase social inclusion and improve the quality of life for the children. Also in Shkoder a grant of 53 402 EUR, implemented by the Municipality make possible re-qualification of 4700 m2 of “Vaso Pasha” park in the center of the city, equipped with all the facilities and accessible also during the evenings, thanks to the installation of LED lightning. The coordinator of the project emphasized that this intervention will serve to all the residents of Shkodra who are lacking access to green spaces in the city. During the implementation of the Regional Pilot Grant Scheme, an important role in managing and monitoring the implementation and successful finalization of all the RDPA funded projects, were played by the Regional Offices of the Albanian Development Fund. This funding opportunity provided by the Swiss and Austrian Governments, launched in April 2018 not only aimesat improving the quality of life for local communities, but it is further contributing to strengthen the capabilities of regional and municipal level structures as mandated bodies and grant beneficiaries.