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From 1st to 4th October, 2017, experts from RiskMonitor and IDM made monitoring visits to Albania as part of the capacity building activities of the project. The visit included meetings with sub-grantees in several towns, participation in project events organized by the sub-grantees; interviews with sub-grantees and participants in the projects; consultations for potential applicants for the 2nd round of applications scheduled for November 2017.

On the first day of the monitoring visits, the team attended a meeting organized by the Institute for Change and Leadership in Albania (ICLA) in the village of Armen. The meeting took place in the municipality of Armen and included the mayor, members of the city council and citizens. The project team from ICLA presented findings from their study, focused on citizens’ access to information about municipal services, channels for communication between citizens and the local government, etc. 

The second visit was to Selenica Municipality, where the Vlora Youth Center held a training session with active citizens. The project is one of the first initiatives of civil society in the town and participants shared their concerns about worsening demographics: young people are leaving town and this poses long-term issues of developing and managing the municipality’s resources for education, employment, infrastructure, etc. 

The second day of the monitoring visit included meetings in Perrenjas and Belsh Municipalities. eTjeter Vizion in Perrenjas is implementing a project which aims to strengthen the cooperation between civil society and municipal bodies. The local TV interviewed the CIVILISC team about the programs goals and current initiatives. 

The Center for Good Governance in Belsh works to engage citizens and local authorities in joint actions for the community. Project participants shared that the deep-rooted distrust in civic activism is still a hurdle to an open and transparent communication and collaboration between citizens and local authorities. Such distrust is one of the main difficulties in talking openly about corruption and in finding the best ways to tackle it, in particular, at the local level and in small urban or rural communities.

MEDPAK is implementing a project “Defending the Rights of People with Disabilities” also in Belsh. The team presented the findings of a study on the type and quality of services provided to people with disabilities. The project is expected to increase the awareness of these issues and to urge the implementation of new measures at the local level. The mayor of Belsh Municipality gave an interview and spoke about the social and economic challenges to the town.

On the last day of the monitoring visit the team traveled to Vora Municipality for a consultation meeting with stakeholders and CSOs from Albania. RiskMonitor presented the experience of Bulgarian CSOs in networking; successful stories and challenges to building and sustaining CSO networks. The participants in the meeting were very interested to learn about the experience of Bulgarian organizations as some of them were also planning to apply to the second call under CIVILISC which is designed to fund networking actions.  

The visits re-confirmed the main assumption of the project, namely, that in many of the target municipalities there is no previous record of civil society action, formal or informal. The sub-granting program of CIVILISC has made this possible for the first time in many of the towns and villages in the southern part of the country. Hopefully, this type of cooperation will continue long-term and will facilitate further joint actions, specifically when it comes to tackling corruption and to strengthening the capacity of citizens to monitor the work of the local authorities.

CIVILISC is co-funded by the Delegation of the European Union to Albania, under the IPA 2014/2015 Civil Society Facility – Civic Initiative and Capacity Building, National Programme for Albania.

For more information about the project and upcoming activities, please visit the project's website.

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