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Urban Integration of Informal Settlements Workshop in Sukth, 10 April 2008

Mrs. Franka Paloka, the newly appointed Technical Manager of this project at the Association of Albanian Municipalities, presented the project “Urban Integration of Informal Settlements”. The opening words were from Mr. Yrjan Hasani, Mayor of Sukth. He greeted the participants and confirmed the commitment of the municipal staff to make this pilot project a true success in the interest of development of community life.

Mr. Andi Lila, regional director of the Legalization Agency for the county of Durres, stressed that the legalization law demands collaboration with the urbanization process. Establishment of minimum standards for urbanization is required as well. The legalization law, while still under elaboration, has clear context in relation to urbanization. The process begins with definition of the area and proceeds with legal approvals starting from the smallest local territory adjustment committee and ending with the national one. The legal framework may still be improved, as the legalization law is under elaboration.

Mr. Lila presented a short profile of work done by the Sukth legalization agency, which resulted with approval of two informal zones. The Municipality of Sukth has all the capacity to make this pilot project a model. It was stated, however, that the National Territory Adjustment Committee decides for those cases where illegal constructions are by the coast line, close to monuments of culture, or in areas with tourism priority. All illegal constructions in accordance with the regulatory plan will be approved, while the others shall be demolished, according to the dispositions provided by law.

Mr. Zyher Beci spoke on behalf of Association of Albanian Municipalities and confirmed the support for success of the project. The process of legalization is a combination of complex factors. Ownership status complicates relationship with private owners and it is reasonable to adopt laws in the favor of the community. The factors defined in the law for legalization construct the basis for overcoming the obstacles and finding solutions. Perhaps other changes on the legalization law should be requested as well. Private ownership and urban planning are points for discussion on urban law. When certain functions are transferred to the local governments, they should be followed by respective funding. Mr. Beci thinks that the information basis of this project within the place of implementation, rather than in the central institutions. There are elements dealing with the study of the “areas in need” in regional development plan. The construction inspectorate responsibilities should be taken into consideration - this inspectorate should function and be an object of discussion for its legal functions and tasks.

Mrs. Franka Paloka presented the urban planning approach and its development process. She also presented urban analysis, which brought fruitful discussions on the actual urban law and the absence of urban management scheme in this law. She stressed that the draft urban law presents a vague structure of the planning hierarchy divisions and the level of specifications according to this hierarchy. It is of great importance that the strategies of development coordinate in hierarchy level from national to local. In the case of Sukth, the urban study on the coastal line for the development of tourism and its impact on the local economy should be taken into consideration. Mrs. Paloka presented a SWOT analysis. Other examples were also presented and she mentioned the planned destruction of natural resources and lack of transparency with the community. The project will pass through some steps and it will take these issues for analysis. The project aims towards a thorough analysis and it previews to analyze the position and the relationship of Sukth municipality with the regional development plan in environmental issues, in relation to tourism development and other directions. There will be complete analyses of the situation having into consideration community development, employment opportunities, infrastructure development etc. After the presentation of the process with the object the definition of the objectives and the vision, it is absolutely necessary to include and coordinate with the interests for national, regional, local and private level. Mrs. Paloka presented the importance of coordination with strategic definitions within the development of the county of Durres. She explained that a questionnaire will be formulated for a field survey.

It is of great importance that municipal staff deals with data processing. There is no planning without a database, so it is very important to establish clear systems and standard models. Mrs. Paloka went on with that part of the presentation dealing with the evaluation of the development based on quality definitions. In order not to tolerate further development of informal constructions, it is of great importance to take measures for the strengthening of the control, to implement or improve housing policies, to accelerate the process of the property restitution and compensation and to clarify the ownership title.

Mr. Mathias Ellger presented the conclusions and commented on the main objectives of the project. The project starts with a narrative description and there a physical completion will follow, where the applied methodology will be implemented. Mr. Ellger clarified that the presented cases are only an illustration. He stated that this workshop is being developed with different representatives because the completion of this pilot project involves cross sector factors, thus it is extremely complicated. A systematic study is necessary for the items which are to be treated in it. “What we are doing now is the designation of sustainable urban development plan for the economy and other fields as environment, agriculture and tourism. This procedure of urban study for informal zones is actually well known because it is a standard but the way of planning and methodology changes. Flexibility and application by the side of responsible authorities is something eagerly demanded. We should convince people and not order them; the complaints and suggestions of the citizens should be taken into consideration.

Improper legal framework is found not only in Albania, but in many other countries. One of the objectives of the project is to see what can be changed from the legislation point of view. The knowledge and the experience gained will be distributed to the other local units within and outside Albania. It is the objective of GTZ to disseminate the gained experience to other countries in the region. The experience of other countries is also very important in the adoption of the new urban law. Other countries, such as Germany, France and England have a long experience and still they adopt laws on different fields. The new law should be in harmony with other enacted laws, so what has previously been done is also important. The combination with other institutions in Albania is absolutely necessary - the Albanian Association of Municipalities should maintain its position for this problem.

Mr. Bujar Huqi , Mayor of Manez, discussed that there is a need for a mechanism to supervise private initiatives. He stated that citizen participation is indispensible in this project. Citizens should be well informed about the advantages and disadvantages of the implementation of this project. The central government should consider and give the status of “areas in need” to some local government units. The Institute of Statistics is weak in the exchange of information with local government. Urban analysis is in need of information from the Institute. The Institute of informatics is granted funds from the central government in the projects of statistic analyses. The mayor supports the idea for a register of the agriculture farm, and this can not be done without the information of the Institute. The data for the “areas in need” are in the hands of Institute and if we rely on this data we have the right orientation of what we demand. He insists that the models for the creation of the database should be unified.

Orieta Myzeqari, representative of the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Telecommunications, discussed issues of urban planning and announced that there are allocated funds from the ministry. The application should be followed by an official request for funds for urban studies. The issues of information and statistics should be viewed in collaboration with Durres Municipality and the experience there should be seen. The funding support might become efficient within 2008 allocation but if it is not possible to reach the time limit, then Sukth may profit from the 2009-2011 funding program. A request for fund advance is available, and the ministry will become an advocate in the support of this project. The coming week is the limited time for the presentation of the application for fund support. The statistical data will be the bases for the creation of the project in the future. It is a part and the obligation of the municipality of Sukth to update the information in the system.