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SOCIAL ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN ALBANIA

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POVERTY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

Decision-making for poverty-related issues is undertaken by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Institute of Labour and Social Affairs, and Local Governments. 

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

Policy is aimed at rebuilding the rural economy on a free-market basis from the bottom up, with a focus on actively alleviating rural poverty, restoring food security, promoting the small-scale private sector, repairing basic rural infrastructure, strengthening local governments, and rooting rural development policies in local tradition and culture.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

The Albanian Development Fund and NGOs are also participants.

Programmes and Projects   

Among the activities aimed at the poor and linkages to the environment are the following:

Status   

Approximately 65% of the population lives in the rural areas. The infrastructure in these areas is a primary target of the national strategy given that roads, irrigation and infrastructure for agricultural marketing, water and sewerage systems, and electricity supplies are still far from being developed. Although environmental degradation is not as extensive as in other countries, environment problems exacerbate poverty in many rural areas and have significant health implications in urban areas. Soil erosion, deforestation, and pollution from fertilizers and pesticide runoff are notable throughout large portions of the countryside and are economically significant since approximately 75% of the country's land resources is devoted to two sectors, agriculture and forestry, which together account for 50% of GDP (1995).

While the government has established a basic social safety net of cash benefits and food subsidies targeted at the poorer groups in the rural areas, it has to be emphasized that an element of the resource transfers to these areas should be directed at stimulating the local economy in order to prevent the build-up of long-term dependence on social assistance. Rural Infrastructure Works, which have sought to improve the availability of small contractors to work in Albanias rural areas, especially in the mountainous areas; to date, this has successfully resulted, on average, in higher quality rehabilitation.

Challenges  

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available.

Information   

No information is available.

Research and Technologies   

No information is available.

Financing   

Small-scale Credit, which provides a highly effective small-scale credit delivery mechanism for villages. As of 31 December 1995, a total of 100 village credit funds were created in 9 districts, and 5143 sub-loans were disbursed to 4750 families.

Funding support is provided by the State Budget, by PHARE (rural poverty alleviation and support to development of local community in rural and urban areas); IDA (rural infrastructure), and by the Governments of France and Italy.

Cooperation  

See under Financing.

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This information was provided by the Government of Albania to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

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DEMOGRAPHICS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

No specific decision-making structure exists to tackle this issue. Different institutions deal with the topic according to their mandates. Among those institutions are included: the Ministry of Health and Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, and the Albanian Institute of Statistics 

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

Non-governmental organizations dealing with family planning, as well as womens' organizations and youth organizations are also active in this area. 

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available.

Status   

Despite the lack of an official policy and strategy regarding the population development, the state propaganda has always supported a sort of ideological pronatalist attitude . This has rendered almost impossible the implementation of programs and policies related to family planning.

 

Emigration abroad was forbidden, and the population movement from the rural to the urban regions was under state control and very much restricted.

 

Following the postwar period up to 1990, the population of Albania has increased at a rate of more than 2% annually. The increase has been incompatible with both the natural resources and the economic development of the country. Based on the data from the general population census in 1989, Albania was populated by 3,182,416 people, whereas in 1995 the registered number was 3,248,836 people. Albania is the only European country with a positive population growth rate. The actual growth rate for the time period 1990-1995 has been estimated around 0.8%. At the same time, the population of Albania is relatively young. Almost one-third of the population is under 14 years of age. The average life expectancy of the population is 71.4 years. Half of the female population of the country is at reproduction age (15-49 years), and few than 10% use contraceptives. On the average, an Albanian woman gives birth to 2.7 children. The number has constantly decreased from 6 in 1960, to 3 in 1990, and to 2.7 in 1995. However Albania still holds the record of births per woman throughout Europe. The number of abortions in the country is also very high, and many mothers lose their lives following complications from the abortions or during birth.  Motherhood mortality continues to be the highest throughout Europe: 37 out of 100,000 of pregnant women die at birth. Infant mortality proceeds at an alarming rate: 23 babies out of 1000 die before reaching the first year of life, and 35 out of 1000 die before the fifth year of age

Migration constitutes another crucial point for Albania. Before 1990, the Government allowed no emigration and only a very reduced migration within the country. For instance, the number of people living in the cities during a 30 years period (1960-1989) increased by only 5% (from 30-35%). Migration abroad became a reality only in 1990 following the reduction of the control on the population's movement. A large scale emigration started, particularly to the neighbouring countries of Greece and Italy. It has been estimated that, in 1992, almost 200,000 people left the country, although many of these people are thought to have returned after short periods. Emigration has mainly affected the southern regions of Albania. Actually no accurate data regarding migration are available, but the massive "exodus" from the rural areas is virtually a certainty. Migration is particularly high in the mountainous northern regions of the country, where the pressure on arable land is particularly high. People from these areas reach mainly the coastal regions and overpopulate the big cities like Tirana..

Challenges  

See under Status.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available.

Information   

No information is available.

Research and Technologies   

No information is available.

Financing   

No information is available.

Cooperation  

No information is available.

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This information was provided by the Government of Albania to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

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HEALTH

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Ministry of Environment and Health is responsible for decision-making in this area. Through the Directorate of the Primary Health Care and a Network of Local Primary Health Care Departments distributed in 37 districts of Albania, the Ministry supervises the implementation of the human health policy. The Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the Ministry of Defence also have authority over certain aspects of the health programme. A network of hospitals and clinics distributed all over the country holds responsibilities for the treatment of infectious and non infectious diseases. 

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The Policy of Human Health protection in Albania has been based on the prevention of the outbreaks of infectious diseases through general and specific prophylactic measures as well as on educational programs for the prevention of the so-called "civilization" health problems, through, for example, campaigns against smoking, alcohol, and narcotics, and information about AIDS and family programming.

 

Specific objectives of the primary curative service include the following:

 

(1)   To increase the coverage of curative services from 95% to 100% by the year 2005 for urban areas and from 70% to 90% in the year 2005 for rural areas; and

(2)   To improve the quality of curative services through the use of standardized protocols for diagnosis and treatment. The standardized protocols will be correctly used for 95% of the patients by the year 2005.

 

Specific objectives related to the health status of the population are the following:

 

(1)   To contribute to the reduction of the incidence of disease in children ( i.e. reduce the infant mortality rate to under 25 per 1000 live births in the year 2000; infant mortality in the year 1995 was 30 per 1000);

(2)   To contribute to the reduction of the maternal mortality ratio to 25 per 100,000 live births by the year 2000 (the maternal mortality ratio was 28.5 per 100,000 live births in the year 1995);

(3)   To contribute to the reduction of the prevalence of malnutrition to less than 10% for children under five years of age.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

No information available.

Programmes and Projects   

Special programs organized by WHO are dealing with the effects of smoking and alcohol and the ways of preventing and controlling them. A special program is being implemented on family planning.

Status   

During the transition period the Health Care System inherited considerable deficiencies from the former system and initially relied almost completely on medical supplies from humanitarian aid. To increase the efficiency of health care treatment centres, the Government allowed the creation of the private health care system, parallel to the existing state-owned one. In some areas, such as dental care and the network of drug stores and pharmacies, private services thoroughly dominated the existing state structures. The health insurance system underwent a complete restructuring through the creation of the Institute of Public Health Insurance. Insurance for basic health problems is mandatory. A centralized state policy is followed regarding the prevention and control of the outbreaks of transmissible diseases. In the last three years the Public Health Service in Albania was faced with cholera outbreaks and the epidemic of poliomyelitis.

 

The respective campaigns for the control and the eradication of these infections were organized by the Ministry of Health and Environment Protection through the Institute of Public Health and the technical assistance of the World Health Organization. The opening of the country was associated with the free movement of people, and Albania began for the first time to experience the onset of AIDS in its population. According to the official data the number of AIDS-infected people is about 30. Serological AIDS diagnostic tests are regularly performed at the Institute of Public Health and at the Blood Collection and Preservation Centre. The test is confidential and free of charge. There is a reported increase in the use of narcotics, especially from the younger generation. This has led to the creation of a narcotics treatment and rehabilitation unit.

Challenges  

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available.

Information   

No information is available.

Research and Technologies   

No information is available.

Financing   

No information is available.

Cooperation  

No information is available.

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This information was provided by the Government of Albania to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

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EDUCATION

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Ministry of Education is responsible for policy development, sector programme planning and management capacities in this area, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection supports job training and the development of small enterprises. 

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The policies and strategies for education aim at: (1) improving the facilities for delivering education through a programme of rehabilitation, reconstruction, and re-equipping facilities; (2) updating the education curriculum at all levels; (3) developing skilled teaching staff; (4) establishing an effective system of education management to ensure quality assessment and control; and (5) ensuring a more efficient utilization of facilities and staff and reduce the demands on the state budget.

 

Because of their social benefits, services in these sectors are generally unsuited for privatization. The government policies emphasize the "protection" of services and the implementation of reform measures aimed at making services more efficient and better targeted. The Ministry of Education's objectives for the sector are to ensure the provision of a basic education for all Albanians and to meet the professional and technical skills required in a market economy.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement   

Among the Major Groups involved are the Pedagogical Institute, which is developing its role in instigating and advising the Government on key issues in the sector such as school governance, curriculum development, and quality assurance. The Institute of Labour and Social Affairs is engaged in studying the relationships between labour market and vocational and technical training. And some NGOs, notably SOROS Foundation For Open Society and different Italian NGOs, such as Don Bosco, among others, are providing financial support for the realization of education research projects at different levels. 

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available.

Status   

In general, indicators of quality and access within the education sector have deteriorated during the early 1990s as the result of the poor conditions of education (including inadequate facilities, poorly motivated staff due to poor salaries and working conditions, outdated curricula, untrained teachers, shortages of equipment and books). This has been the result of critically inadequate funding for the education sector, which averaged only 9% of the total budget. In 1996, the percentage had grown to 11%.

 

Education is being reoriented also to integrate information on the environment into the curricula and to improve the quality of all levels of education in order to ensure that an educated adult population and work force is being prepared: to rehabilitate and rationalize existing education facilities to suit the changing demographic structure; and to support the restructuring of secondary education, emphasizing a general education and a more broadly based vocational education system. 

Challenges  

No information is available.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available.

Information   

No information is available.

Research and Technologies   

No information is available.

Financing   

A separate fund, entitled the Training, Employment, and Enterprise Fund (TEEF), administered by a unit within the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, has been set up to fund organizations which provide job training and support the development of small enterprises.

Cooperation

A range of different international and bilateral donors are active in this field. At present, foreign donors are providing significant amounts to help improve both the physical infrastructure and the know-how of the education and training system. The most important donors in this area are UNICEF, UNESCO, the World Bank, EU/PHARE, and SOROS, in addition to Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United States.

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This information was provided by the Government of Albania to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

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HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies   

The Ministry of Public Works, Territory Adjustment and Tourism is responsible for decision-making in this area. 

Decision Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement

No information is available.

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available.

Status   

Marked differences already exist in human settlements all over the country. On a horizontal approach, which considers settlements from the administrative point of view, it is estimated that one-quarter of the population as a whole has been settled in the coastal regions, which constitute only one-tenth of the surface of the country, while another one-fifth of the population is sprawled across more than one-third of the territory.

 

For the urban population the horizontal differentiation of the settlements is more striking. Thus, within the coastal regions, one-third of the population is urban, but only ten percent of the sparsely populated one-third of the country is urbanized.

 

The population settlements distribution amongst geographic zones reflects major differences. The Albanian Alps, which constitute more than 7% of the entire territory, offer living spaces only for 2% of the population, whereas Myzeqeja, which constitutes 5% of the entire territory of the country contains almost 12% of the population. As a whole the western flatland side of the country, which constitutes 21% of the territory, holds 53% of the entire population of Albania. On the other hand the central mountainous region of the country which constitutes 48% of the entire territory holds almost 26% of the population as a whole.

 

From a vertical point of view, it has been estimated that 27.6% of the population lives in the administrative units situated at an altitude of 300 m above sea level; 52%, in areas at 301 to 1000 meters above sea level; and 20.4% in the areas above 1000 meters. The majority of the Albanian population (more than 2/3) has been settled in the Western flatland side of the country, the field of Korca and Delvina and along the river's valleys. Most of the remaining one-third of the population has settled along the hilly zones and the river's valleys at the Western flatland side, while the mountainous zones hold only 2% of the population.

 

Albania is a country of a high density population. Tirana, its capital, is one of the most densely populated cities in Europe (5,000 inhabitants/km2 ) with a high land use intensity. Built up areas represent over 70% of the total municipal area with one of the lowest ratios of green space per inhabitant. Housing space per capita is the lowest in Europe (7,5 m2). In 1989, 43.4% of flats had only one-room and 35.9% had two rooms. Illegal constructions due to migration from the North-Eastern parts of the country became very common in the years of transition to the market economy. They are typical for the big cities, especially Tirana.

Challenges  

Although electrification of the whole country has been completed since 1970, power shortages are very frequent. Energy and heating supplies have become an acute problem. The drinking water infrastructure is old and insufficient to cover the needs. Most of the population uses drinking water from the tap. Telephones are still missing in most of the Albanian families, though efforts are underway with the support of the European Union and IFIs to build new telephone infrastructure, especially in the big cities. Road infrastructure is still very poor, old and not well maintained. The railway system, though old, is still functioning. The only international airport is located in Tirana. 

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available.

Information   

No information is available.

Research and Technologies   

No information is available.

Financing   

No information is available.

Cooperation

Albania engages in bilateral cooperation with Turkey, Malaysia, and Israel for housing issues. The PHARE Programme has covered some of the feasibility studies and detailed design in the field of drinking and waste water as well as solid domestic waste.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Albania to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: 1 April 1997.

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