NGO interest in Albania in the future

The new focus in Albania, now that the overwhelming body of interest has moved to the Kosovo province, is ensuring the development of long-term projects for NGOs in Albania. On Saturday, July 17, there was a meeting in Tirana of NGOs to discuss the likely long term projects that will be taken on now the refugees are not the priority here. And it does seem Albania will be the recipient of substantial aid in development on a variety of levels. The degree of interest may have caught the local officials off guard as well. Attendance and the meeting was standing room only capacity. Education, water and sanitation, health and medical care were the dominant concerns. Declarations of financial backing has also begun. The USA Department of State, Refugee Bureau has committed $14-m(US) exclusively to Albania. Few of the NGOs had specific programmes in place. Many are new to Albania and their only experience has been with the refugee crisis. The Emergency Measures Group (EMG) which is coordinating the government involvement, has emphasized the need for the NGOs to cooperate and inform the government and other NGOs to ensure there is no unnecessary duplication of efforts and resources. This was also a key point in the financial backers. Although all proposals will be looked at, there will be obvious preference to proposals that have kept the EMG fully advised and have the Albanian government cooperation and acceptance. MSF was here in 1988 and had a project underway to develop an emergency ward and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the hospital in Fier. Although the refugee crisis did mean a new focus in attention, the project continued in a lesser level and now MSF is looking to complete the rennovation of the facilities by the end of August. MSF shall remain as training still has to take place and there is hope that the project can be duplicated in another region. Obviously the conflict has rasied both the awareness and the needs within Albania, encouraging developments throughout the country.