On its way to decentralization, the local administrative-territorial structure in Albania has gone through many changes from 1990. On 31 July 2015, the Albanian government started to implement the new approved territorial reform. Thus, this is the first year of the reform implementation.
There has been a change of local governmental structure, from smaller local units to bigger ones, in total 61 (municipalities) instead of 373 (municipalities and communes). One of its biggest efforts is to fulfill the citizen’s expectations in local service and economic development. The target is the increase of local units (municipal) effectiveness. In this matter, the main objectives are: raising the local unit’s capacity in offering high quality services for their citizens and raising the efficiency in managing their local resources.
The applied mechanism of the reform would be:
- Capacity of the administration consolidation
- Structure consolidation
- Local strengthening of fiscal autonomy
- Fairness in competition
- The necessity to respect the European standards in local service
- Demography changes, etc.,
The project will focus on “the possible increase of the citizen wellbeing in relation to the efficiency of services provided”. The quality of life is an important indicator for a sustainable social system. In this regard, if the citizen has the feeling of having a qualitative life which can come as a result of the political, economic, social stability, etc. policies implemented from the local authorities.
This project will serve as a control instrument if there have been changes in this period of time. The research will have as a study population the local citizens. Focused mostly on the citizens that have the legal rights to choose by vote and make decisions for their representatives in local/governmental unit.
Student’s research and data gathering will be focused on mapping and describing the administrative changes; the citizen’s perceptions lof their real interest in representation from the local governance; and mapping the level of minimizing their problems from it.
More specifically the main lines of research would be as follows:
- Citizen representativeness in local units
- Citizen desiderate outcomes and problems in local units
- Citizen happiness/satisfaction
- Local institution activity
The purpose is to provide students practical knowledge and the opportunity of a modest contribution in this area. They will gather data, discuss and analyze the administrative changes and the citizens perceptions. They also will try to find its impact in raising the level of democracy. Locally, citizen wellbeing would be defined as a state of being comfortable, healthier and happier, etc., from the local politics and activities representativeness. How well does the local government administration focus on the local recourse from the citizen’s interest point of view?
The citizens perceptions will be accessed by the students through small groups (8-10) (contact with the information desk officer of the municipally, or other officers), conducing short interviews with citizens in their local area. Through active learning projects is the most beneficiary way for a student to become an efficient citizen and researcher.
On the other hand, stakeholders, throughout the political issues regarding wellbeing, will gain an academic view to develop the most suitable policy for their local citizen. Thus, all parties involved will contribute to a more sustainable social development. Though the citizens wellbeing access in relation to political reforms and services provided would be an efficient way for students, to benefit in a win-win situation for both parties.
This experience will provide students with the necessary knowledge in local administrative political reform. They will practically undertake basic research and discuss its pros and cons. At the end of the project, students will understand how local policy is developed and its connection to the citizens wellbeing; the theoretical and practical differences from the past territorial division for this projects objectives; the difficulties of implementing the new reform; and in some cases how the local officers solve local problems.