The Institute for Democracy and Mediation organized on March 06, 2015, in Tirana, the conference “Civil protection system in Albania and its related regional cooperation”. The event was held within the framework of a three-year joint research project with the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) and Kosovar Centre for Security Studies (KCSS), supported by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Among the attendees there were representatives coming from disaster related institutions (Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense, etc.), scientific institutions (Institute of Geosciences, Faculty of Geology and Mining, Military Meteorological Service, European University of Tirana, etc) as well as other stakeholders from the civil society, Albanian Red Cross, academia, media, etc.
The conference was opened by Mr. Sotiraq Hroni, IDM Executive Director and Mr. Shemsi Prençi, Director of the GDCE at the Ministry of Interior.
The conference was organized in two panels. The first panel was focused on the pre-disaster measures and was composed of Prof. Dr. Përparim Hoxha, Dean of the Faculty of Geology and Mining (Tirana Polytechnic University), Prof. Dr. Petrit Zorba, Department of Climatology and Environment (Institute of Geosciences), Prof. Dr. Niko Pano, scientific researcher at the Institute of Geosciences and Mr. Foto Duro, researcher at IDM. This panel was moderated by Mr. Arjan Dyrmishi, Director of the Center for European and Security Affairs (CESA).
The second panel was focused on “response” measures and was composed of Mr. Alfred Olli, Former Director of the General Directorate of Civil Emergencies (GDCE) at the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Dilaver Laçi, Former Director of Fire Protection and Rescue Service, Colonel Ahmet Leka, Director of the Joint Operations Centre (Albanian Armed Forces), Mr. Arben Molla, Liaison Officer between GDCE and the Albanian Armed Forces, and Mr. Fatos Xhengo, Coordinator at the Albanian Red Cross. This panel was moderated by Mr. Foto Duro.
The conference highlighted the fact that Albania is still suffering from natural disasters, with an annual economic cost of about 2.5% of its GDP (much higher than the regional average losses of about 1% of GDP). Considering the natural disasters’ frequency and impact, it was announced that Albania ranks on the 37th place in the world for floods, on 41st for landslides, on 43rd for earthquakes and 56th for extreme droughts. So far, the Albanian institutions have paid more attention on response and less on other Disaster Risk Reduction and Civil Protection components.
On the other hand, there has been a disconnection between Disaster Risk Reduction and Civil Protection giving much more priority to the latter. Albania’s civil emergency strategies and plans lack the implementation mechanisms, whereas the capacities’ development is lagging behind. In addition it was underlined the necessity of instilling a new culture of safety and resilience not only into all levels’ institutions but into the Albanian population as well. Partially due to that, in Albania till now, the insurance system is quite underdeveloped.
Most of the participants suggested that such events should take more attention of the related institutions and agencies in Albania up to the Parliament and the National Security Council.