FY 2010 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance: Albania

Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs

Performance Report Highlights:  Albania

FY 2010 Foreign Assistance Goals

The U.S. Government’s (USG) assistance strategy for Albania is to help strengthen its democratic institutions, promote economic prosperity and advance its further integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures. Progress on democratic norms and respect for the rule of law is essential for Albania’s Euro-Atlantic integration, as well as for regional stability. Sustained economic growth is also critical to European Union (EU) accession and to Albania`s ability to continue to be a moderating force in the Balkans. In addition, the USG focused attention on reforming Albania’s health care system in order to enable it to respond better to public health needs.

Total FY 2010 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance: $29.52 million*

Date: 2011 Description: Albania -- Total FY 2010 Foreign Operations Appropriated Assistance: $29.52 million. - State Dept Image

(*Foreign Operations funding appropriated for FY 2010, not including Peace Corps funding and centrally managed, regional Foreign Operations funding that is not budgeted for specific countries.)

Highlights of FY 2010 Performance by Area of Focus

Peace and Security

-- During FY 2010, the USG worked with the State Export Control Authority to develop and install an automated system for processing trade license applications. Following installation of the system in January 2010, USG funding provided training and technical assistance to help ensure that the system would be used effectively.

-- In FY 2010, 328 members of the Albanian Armed Forces (AAF) at any given time were deployed in support of NATO, EU and UN missions (their support for the UN mission in Chad ended in FY 2010). The USG helped the AAF to transform into a more responsive military, with assistance focused on defense reform at the Ministry of Defense level. Specific interventions included training for the Special Forces battalion; reduction of legacy military munitions, facilities and equipment; and force modernization. Efforts continue to ensure that communication systems and equipment are interoperable with those of NATO allies.

-- With USG assistance, the Albanian Government increased demilitarization efforts in FY 2010 and established a goal to complete demilitarization activities by 2013. This past year, the Albanian Government destroyed 15,840 tons of ordnance.

-- USG assistance to the Albanian Integrated Border Management system was instrumental in the EU granting visa liberalization to Albania (in November 2010) and efforts continued to expand the scope and scale of risk analysis procedures. The Albanian State Police (ASP) border and migration police increased the level of communication between border posts, regional offices, and HQ to create a more inclusive risk analysis data pool. This resulted in a shared knowledge base for all border control officers to conduct second-line checks on vehicles and travelers fitting a high-risk profile.

-- USG assistance continued to monitor and assist the training of all police officers via the basic training course as the ASP passed the 50 percent mark in their multi-year goal of providing modern standardized training to more than 3,000 incumbent officers and new recruits. The ASP has assumed total control over the conduct of basic courses, while USG assistance focuses on improving instructors and curriculum development skills.

-- In the area of anti-trafficking, in FY 2010, the USG helped build the capacity of NGO-run shelters, enhance cooperation between civil society and GoA anti-trafficking entities, and build the capacity of civil society to prevent trafficking and protect victims. In FY 2010, the USG provided support to the existing National Coalition of Anti Trafficking Shelters (NCATS), which works to protect and assist victims. With USG support, the NCATS developed standard operating procedures for identifying and referring victims. NCATS also held national conferences to increase public awareness of victims and support enhanced dialogue between government and civil society organizations.

-- With USG support, the Albanian Serious Crimes Prosecution Office (SCPO) created a specific unit to handle all trafficking in women cases, assigning two female prosecutors to the task. The creation of the unit, and especially the assignment of victim/witness advocates, satisfies one of the recommendations in the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report on Albania.

-- In FY 2010, the Albanian Parliament passed laws that USG assistance had supported through legal technical assistance. Specifically, Parliament adopted a law to protect witnesses and a law to fight criminal organizations involved in trafficking. By the end of FY 2010, Parliament also published the Transnational Referral Mechanism for Victims of Trafficking – a document that sets procedures for international cooperation and quality assistance to victims.

Governing Justly and Democratically

-- To promote accountability in the judicial sector, USG funding focused on increasing transparency of the courts such as IT-based systems for trial recording, modernized file management, and strengthened civil society monitoring. As a result, all pilot courts now keep computerized trial records, making court operations more transparent and efficient. Courts installed monitors that allow the public to watch proceedings in real time, and three pilot courts are utilizing audio recordings that allow for verbatim trial records. Through USG cooperation with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the GoA created two Public Information Offices that encourage public accessibility to court records. USG assistance also improved court efficiency through introducing a system for organizing cases and archives thus simplifying their access by district courts and the Ministry of Justice.

-- In FY 2010, the USG continued to promote cross-border cooperation between Albania and neighboring countries on anti-corruption efforts. Albanian judges, prosecutors, and police officers attended trainings in Kosovo on financial investigation, child pornography, trial advocacy, and victim/witness issues. Kosovo prosecutors and law professors, in turn, taught in Albania a course on trial advocacy to Joint Investigative Units (JIUs), and Albanian and Kosovo participants took part in a victim/witness study visit to the U.S. With USG assistance, the Tirana JIU continued to improve investigations and prosecutions of corruption and financial crimes, serving as a model for the establishment of six new regional JIUs, which began formal operations in September 2009.

-- USG assistance in FY 2010 focused on expanding local government capacity to increase revenue and attract investments. Specifically, the USG provided technical assistance and on-the-job training to staff in ten municipalities on public procurement methods, community asset management, and small business association development. USG-supported programs trained local and central government officials how to improve strategic planning and as a result, several Albanian cities developed capital improvement plans for infrastructure projects. The Central Government completed strategies and action plans on increasing property tax collection and municipal assets. One of the most significant results has been municipal lending. Municipalities signed two loan agreements worth almost $9 million and four additional agreements are under review.

-- With USG support, ten municipalities installed computer hardware and tax administration software needed to increase fair and consistent tax collection, particularly from businesses. USG-supported projects also helped local governments build public-private partnerships with non-governmental organizations, private businesses and international donors. As a result, three cities built alliances to speed up solid waste clean-up activities. In another case, USG assistance stimulated community participation in ten Local Economic Growth Committees and how the Committees allocated budget resources to communities.

-- One of the most important areas of USG support was helping the Albanian High Inspectorate for the Declaration and Audit of Assets (HIDAA) build relations with civil society organizations, businesses and the media in order to detect and fight corruption and conflicts of interest. For example, the Inspectorate publicized public officials’ declared assets and economic interests, and the HIDAA’s database has become a point of reference for informed public accusations against government officials. HIDAA also held a second open house to highlight its role and inform the public and media about asset declarations by public officials.

-- A specific objective of USG programs has been the involvement of civil society in the lobbying and drafting stages of policy development. This has shown some encouraging steps in recent years on specific, often donor-led, initiatives. Though progress has been made, civil society failed to mount a comprehensive and effective consultation process when the government of Albania changed the legal framework that regulates the activity of the sector. In cooperation with other main donors, the U.S. Mission conducted a series of meetings and roundtables in order to encourage civil society organizations to take concrete initiatives for a more coordinated and productive response in public policy formation.

-- Promoting women’s rights and women’s political empowerment have been the cornerstones of USG assistance addressing gender issues in Albania. Small grants to local organizations helped educate 200 women and girls from around the country on political participation and trained fifteen journalists to improve their reporting on women in decision-making. The U.S. Mission also provided 200 women and girls in remote rural areas with awareness-raising activities and coping strategies to address domestic violence and human trafficking. Two-hundred fifty women and young people from Albania’s more remote northern regions participated in trainings and community meetings, which provided them with concrete information and skills on anti-trafficking.

Investing in People

-- USG support has focused on improving the health sector’s overall efficiency, reducing maternal and infant mortality and morbidity rates, increasing modern contraceptive prevalence rates (CPR), and ensuring equal access to essential health services. In FY 2010, USG assistance guided the design and implementation of a telemedicine network in six out of twelve regions of the country. The six centers received tele-presence units, communication platforms, computers and software for electronic libraries. Also, the USG worked with the Albanian Ministry of Health to establish a regulatory framework and institutional capacity for family medicine with continuing professional development for doctors and nurses. The USG also supported health care management and leadership training in Albania for 33 health professionals.

-- USG investments in mother and child health continued to support the Continuing Professional Development program in Family Medicine and certification for health center physicians and nurses. Specifically, the USG helped introduce training programs for general practitioners and nurses at the Medical Faculty and Nursing High School. In turn, 14 certified local trainers trained an additional 112 general practitioners and 24 head nurses. Furthermore, USG assistance supported the development of manuals for primary health care physicians and for primary health care nurses. These manuals have been used for continuing education in the area of mother and child health care.

-- To address consumer and family misperceptions, USG activities in FY 2010 strongly focused on increasing information on and access to modern family planning methods – with positive results. With USG assistance, Albanian organizations developed and implemented an integrated social and behavior change communication (SBCC) program to increase young men and women’s knowledge. As a result, adoption of behavior change communication strategies, such as mass media interventions and peer education programs, informed and empowered Albanian people on family planning methods and ensured access to modern contraceptives of their choice.

-- Another successful intervention was the introduction of the immediate postpartum Intra-Uterine Device (IUD). For the first time in Albania, immediate (within the first 48 hours postpartum) IUD insertion is offered in four maternity clinics. Twenty two providers participated in an intensive 2-day clinical training, follow up sessions and case conferences. As a result, providers report wider acceptance of routine FP counseling, and both counseling and IUD distribution are becoming routine in assisted sites.

Economic Growth

-- In FY 2010, USG assistance helped change the allowable bids from individuals in government securities auctions to 50 percent of the auction amount. This helped to increase participation by individuals in the auctions as their market share holding rose to close to 12 percent during the year. Additionally, the number of institutions participating in the ongoing auctions of government securities increased by approximately ten percent, indicating a broadening of the market and demonstrating confidence in the government’s activities. Creating a broad customer base allows the GoA to more effectively raise funds to finance the government’s budget. Increasing the private customer base also allows banks to increase their liquidity and loans to market.

-- USG funding has helped strengthen the capacity of the Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA). Specifically, the USG assisted FSA in setting up a training center for its inspectors and market participants and supported training on issues such as the fee structure that pension management companies charge while striving to attract pension management companies to the market. Upon request from the FSA, the USG also provided assistance on assessing the feasibility of establishing a central depository institution by combining registry and depository functions in one center. The improvement of Albania’s financial regulatory environment strengthened overall public confidence in the banking system and provided a more secure, efficient, and transparent financial system to meet the credit, savings, and insurance needs of businesses and individuals. The result has been a steady increase in bank deposits and in the flow of commercial credit to the private sector.

-- In collaboration with other donors in FY 2010, the USG provided technical assistance to support the implementation of Albania`s energy strategy to improve the availability, efficiency, and reliability of energy supply at reasonable costs. USG support helped strengthen the capacity of the Energy Regulatory Entity (ERE) to function as an independent and transparent regulator capable of establishing policies and procedures for tariff setting, licensing, monitoring, and energy market development in compliance with EU directives.

-- Another achievement was the licensing of several small and independent power producers, including 36 concessionary licenses for hydro power plants, six licenses for energy trade, and one license for private generation of energy. Finally, ERE developed and approved a standard power purchase agreement between the wholesale and retail public suppliers and developed standard bidding procedures for purchasing power and obtaining new debts for the privatized distribution company.

-- In FY 2010, the USG-supported program assisted producers and other operators in the following value chains: apples, citrus (mainly tangerines), olives, watermelons, greenhouse and open field vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers), onions, crucifers, and herbs -- with an emphasis on commercial farming, productivity and quality improvement, market development, and utilization of timely and reliable market information. As a result, the average yield of selected crops increased up to 42 percent and the production costs decreased by as much as 79.3 percent, depending on specific crops. Farmers applied improved technologies or management practices to 160 hectares of high-value crops and 671 people participated in USG-supported short-term productivity training, exceeding the target by 22 percent. Participating producers and traders exported Albanian products to European countries and the Balkan region. The value of exports facilitated by the program was $ 3,087,160, an increase of 120 percent from the previous year, with the highest observed increase for tomatoes. The total domestic sales for all products are valued at $3 million, compared to $2 million in 2009.

-- The USG provided technical assistance and training to 172 firms for technological innovations and 356 firms for management improvement. Assistance enabled these firms to increase their domestic and export sales in FY 2010 through increasing efficiency and production, improving product quality, and/or developing new products. The target for the value of exports was exceeded, but the program achieved only 30 percent of the target set for domestic sales, probably due to the fact that most of the firms assisted are in export oriented sectors, such as garments and footwear.

-- During the reporting period, many Albanian enterprises have encountered serious cash flow problems as banks reduced their lending to the private sector. However, USG funding assisted 95 enterprises (105 percent of the target) in obtaining loans from commercial banks for facility renovation, technological innovations, and business expansion and diversification. Also in FY 2010, the USG supported human and institutional capacity development for institutions and individuals. A total of 350 participants took part in workforce development programs and on-the-job training.