The COVID-19 pandemic leads to a major-scale disruption all around the globe. Everywhere it is testing the resilience of communities and their governments. Let’s look at Albania, in the Southern Balkan with a three-million population, where VNG International, FLAG and The Hague Academy for Local Governance are working with five Local Governments on developing and implementing Local Safety and Security Policies within a multi-stakeholder approach. A proven concept in the Netherlands where it is often called ‘the Triangle’ between Local Government, Local Police and Local Communities.

The project LSSP Albania, funded by the longstanding Matra-Program of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, happened to be in his last phase of harvesting results, sharing best practices and formulating next steps for a sustainable development of Local Safety and Security in Albania when COVID-19 appeared on the scene.

It is indeed inspiring to see that all parties involved, in Albania and in the Netherlands, were able to quickly adapt to formulate a new approach to finalize the project. With also a special thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Albanian Associations of Local Governments for their flexibility. As we speak, all activities between the Netherlands and Albanian counterparts will proceed online from now one, with a special of focus on supporting Citizen Participation in the activities of the Local Crisis Teams in the five participating municipalities: Roskovec, Berat, Cerrik, Mat and Devoll.

It will give the local partners the opportunity to further develop the skills and knowledge acquired during the overall program LSSP Albania; working effectively in a multi-stakeholder approach; applying the concepts of Community Communication; developing a local practice of Citizen Participation. And all within the framework of their locally formulated Safety and Security Policy.

If nothing else, the fact that we were able to shift so quickly to this new approach, already shows the resilience acquired within this cross-border intra-European partnership!

Maita van der Mark
Associated Expert VNG International Citizen Participation and Good Governance