Local Governance Mapping in Albania: Citizens express concerns about their space to participate in decisions that affects their lives

Oct 17, 2017

Tirana Municipality

UNDP and its partners in the STAR 2 project, led by the European Union and including Sweden, Italy, Switzerland and the USAID, presented today the results of the national assessment “Local Governance Mapping in Albania”, a survey combining citizens’ perceptions and municipal officials’ accounts on Good Governance.Four Good Governance dimensions were assessed: Effectiveness and Efficiency, Transparency and Rule of Law, Accountability and Participation.

Out of the four governance dimensions, municipalities fare better in Effectiveness and Efficiency and Transparency scoring 60/100 followed by accountability scoring 56/100, and Participation scoring 50/100. The Report identifies many challenges in each of the selected governance dimensions.

In terms of Efficiency and Effectiveness, municipal internal organization and inter-institutional relations as well as satisfaction with municipal services are assessed as moderate. Data shows a lack of adequate capacities for planning, budgeting and implementing exacerbated by the absence of consolidated and reliable data at local level and insufficient monitoring and reporting systems on performance.

Due to the existence of internal control mechanisms and systems to respond to oversight bodies and to a certain extend to citizens’ complaints, accountability scores moderate. Nevertheless, the lack of an integrated system for complaint management and failure to track filed complaints is frequent in a number of municipalities.

Transparency and Rule of Law scores 56 out of 100. Findings point to existing gaps in access to information related to municipal projects, activities, and services.

The institutional legal framework ensuring equal rights for all citizens is largely perceived as being effective, though awareness raising by local government on laws and local regulations, through websites or public media is considered insufficient. Citizens’ perception of corruption at the local government level is rated average. However, when asked about citizen’s own experiences in facing corruptive practices, a lower rating is reported. Local strategies, plans and mechanisms to fight corruption at local level, are seen as insufficient calling for further interventions.

Participation and Citizens’ Engagement scores 50 out of 100 points across municipalities, representing the weakest element of local governance. Findings point to a low culture of democratic participation, instigated from both- the citizens and local governments. In most municipalities citizens do not see themselves as partners in governance and development. Findings reveal that municipal officials across municipalities, do not display a strong culture of engaging with citizens or find them not-well informed to provide qualified advice.

Findings reveal that while an improved institutional framework for participation is in place, both citizens and municipal officials consider the ability of local civil society organizations to lobby, advocate and influence the local administration to be rather insufficient. Available platforms and structures for community participation are rated average and institutional mechanisms operated by the Coordinators of Public Consultation and Right to Information are only partially effective and need an overhaul.

The survey has adopted a combination of Local Governance Barometer and Citizen Score Cards techniques. 12,000 citizens selected randomly and proportionally to the size of each of 61 municipalities have been interviewed.  In addition, the assessment included 340 semi-structured interviews with senior civil servants in each municipality, 61 Focus Groups with high-level municipal officials, 90 Community Dialogues, and reference gathering from relevant demographic, economic, social, public and administrative data.

The various measured dimensions are assessed against a scale from 0-100 and the overall national average shows that 59/61 (97%) of municipalities score below 70, 40/61 (66%) below 60 and 10/61 (16%) below 50 indicating a moderate level of local governance and significant room for improvement. 

In his opening remarks, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Permanent Representative Mr. Brian J. Williams, said: “Understanding public views about local government's effectiveness is absolutely critical.  Although of course statistics and other measures are necessary to verify and quantify what's happening in service delivery, what's for sure is that the trust in institutions is not there if the public doesn't have positive perceptions about their government. And right now, Albanian institutions need to earn more trust from their citizens."

Stephen Stork, Head of Section on Justice and Home Affairs, Public Reform and Administration, at the EU Delegation in Albania said: “Local and regional authorities are vital to the democratic life of every democratic and modern society. Local self-government performance is also key for good governance since a great part of the EU acquis will be implemented at local level. The mapping offers food for thought to everybody: it should stimulate in particular the policy makers to reflect on how citizens view their own local governments’ efforts and effectiveness in delivering their public mandate.”

About the Project: In 2016, the Government of Albania, in partnership with the United Nations Development Program - UNDP in Tirana, started the implementation of the project "Consolidation of the Administrative and Territorial Reform - STAR2”. The project benefits all 61 municipalities and aims to strengthen institutional capacities of local administrations, improve the service delivery and the environment for active civic engagement, which together aim at achieving good local governance.

 

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