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Community Liaison – The Challenges of Re-dimensioning the Role in a Local Democracy

Regional Conference – Municipality of Durres – 14th January 2008

Institute for Democracy and Mediation organized on the 14th January 2008 the Regional Conference “Community Liaison: The Challenges of Re-dimensioning the Role in a Local Democracy”. The aim of this conference was to present the newly established experiences in the city of Durrës, where for the first time, in cooperation with the Municipality of Durrës and the support of the American Embassy in Tirana through the project “The Model of Good Governance Practices through the Community Liaison” , the Community Liaison structure was established. At present 18 Community Liaisons are part of the Municipality of Durrës, with the proposal of the community and their appointment by the city’s Municipal Council.

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The impact such an undertaking of IDM’s has had generally can be noticed also in the work currently being performed by Tirana and Shkodra Municipal Units for the re-structuring of such a model and the identification of the obvious necessity for capacity building of the structure in these municipal units where the CLs have been operating for a decade now.

Present at the conference were the Mayor of Durrës Municipality, executives of various institutions and law enforcement agencies in the this city, Community Liaisons newly appointed in Durrës, Mayors and representatives of Tirana Municipal Units, executives and representatives of other Municipalities such as Lushnja, Elbasan, Lezha and Shkodra, and representatives of international organizations that operate in Albania, such as UN and OSCE.
Besides the presentation of up to now experiences in the functioning and capacity building of the Community Liaison structure as a coordinative instrument between the local government and the community, the conference addressed also the challenges for the improvement of this structure’s performance. Above and beyond challenges, through vivid discussions the participants gave concrete suggestions that would facilitate the raise of quality and efficiency of the Community Liaison structure. Some of the most emphasized suggestions were:

The set up of a Training School for Community Liaisons, what would offer intensive information on the functions and method of work of a CL; would share concrete experiences and best practices among cities; would raise their capacities in terms of participatory budgeting and community development. Moreover such a school would further on stimulate the process of extension of such a structure to other Municipalities of the country.

The appropriate and balanced positioning of such a structure between the local municipal units and the interested institutions on one hand and the community on the other.

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Intensified awareness-raising of central and local institutions with the aim of reaching cohesion of standpoints on the role of Community Liaisons in local democracy, as well as improvement of services towards citizens.

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The gradual expansion of this model to other municipalities of Albania, basing on experiences and lessons drawn.