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Programmes of settlement upgrading in Albania - Abstract

(Università degli Studi di Ancona - Institute for Town and Country Planning) and Doris Andoni (Ministry of Territory and Tourism Regulation,Tirana)

In 1991 with the collapse of the regime of the Labour Party in Albania it was clear that the country would have to consistently transform the system of town planning to face the transition from a centralized and collectivist economic and town and country planning to a management system of urban and country dynamics closer to the models of the market of Western Europe.

This basic hypothesis had to tackle socio-economic and political dynamics which have then assumed directions and intensities which were substantially unpredictable at that time.
The radical political choice made in the early nineties led to the complete destructuration of the system of co-operatives and state-owned enterprises operating in the agrarian business, which almost fully controlled the majority of the cultivable land.
The decision to dissolve the co-operatives and to give 2,000 sq. m. to each family member who used to work in the co-operative determined not only the end of the co-operative experience, but also the abandonment of agricultural activities made by the population who was left on its won, without any technical or financial means having a particular relevance .
The same happened to the state-owned farms, which were not only closed down, but all the equipment was taken away.
Also in the industrial sector all the state-owned companies or the cooperative-based companies were abandoned.

The consequences of those political choices, which were partly obliged owing to the state of very serious political and institutional crisis, had a destructive effect on the distribution of the population and of the activities even in the most remote agrarian areas as well as within the urban areas.
With a relentless trend an abandonment of the agrarian areas took place, as well as a migration trend towards the foreign countries or towards some urban areas: the triangle Triana.Durazzo-Scutari, Fieri and Valona.

Today in Albania there are 2,500,000 inhabitants, about a further million is made of migrants. The city of Tirana passed from 200,000 inhabitants in 1990 to a size which is difficult to determine but it fluctuates from 400,000 to 600,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area, which has its centre in Tirana but which stretches in the illegally built peripheral areas of Kamza, Breglumasi etc .
This situation has a lot of common points with other transition economies, in which the abandonment of wide areas of a country contrasts with the growth of some urban centres in which a great part of economic activities and of population growth is concentrated.

In Albania, just like in many other situations in Africa, in Central and South America or in Asia, a relevant part of the town and country transformations occurred over the last ten years has been realized in a completely illegal manner or with a very limited compliance with the building and town planning regulations in force. In many cases building were realized on commons of uncertain property and these buildings had not received any kind of authorisation by the Public Authority. Nearly the whole building development realized in the most important part of the country, that is to say the Tirana-Durazzo axis, seems to be realized without building authorizations.

In comparison with this situation, which is not new in countries with a transition economy, the role of the town planning instrumentation has to be necessarily reconsidered, in order to be able to combine the ineluctable needs of economic growth both with the safeguarding of the most important environmental, landscape and cultural resources in a broad sense and with the reaching of acceptable levels of public facilities .

This is clearly one of the most critical points of the urban planning in situations such as Albania where we have found extensive situations of serious poverty and social degradation, very often accompanied by totally unacceptable hygienic conditions and public fixtures.
The debate on the political choices to take in Albania to activate a system of urban planning able to go with the economic growth is very lively in Albania where there is, at least in the environments of the sector specialists, a precise awareness of the importance of these issues for the future of that country.