THE ASSOCIATION OF KOSOVO MUNICIPALITIES CONDUCTED THE STUDY ON “EMERGENCY NEEDS AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN KOSOVO”



By: Genc Namani

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The Association of Kosovo Municipalities (AKM) published the Study on “Emergency Needs and Socio-Economic Impact of Covid-19 on Local Government in Kosovo”. This study was conducted during the period May-July 2020.

The study aimed to identify the difficulties encountered by municipalities during the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, measures taken by the latter to manage this situation, cooperation with the central level and the AKM, as well as the emergency needs of municipalities to overcome the socio-economic consequences by the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

For the purpose of this study, a total of 255 semi-structured interviews and eight (8) focus group discussions were conducted. While interviews included both municipal mayors and directors, focus group discussions were held only with municipal directors. The study covered all 34 municipalities of Kosovo, members of the AKM.

Key Findings of the Study:

 

  • Limited budget and lack of protective measures such as face masks, gloves and hand sanitizers, were mentioned as the main difficulties encountered by the majority of municipalities since the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. Other difficulties included lack of medical staff, technology for online classes, banning of certain economic activities, etc.
  • The majority of municipal representatives (57%) declared that they were somewhat prepared in dealing with such a pandemic situation.
  • In general, measures taken by the municipal directorates in order to manage the situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic included disinfection of the municipal facilities and public spaces, equipping staff with protective measures, reduction of staff and rotation work. Also, Local Emergency Headquarters were established in all municipalities.
  • Other measures taken by specific directorates were reallocation of budget, designing of economic recovery package, providing information on Government’s decisions to the local businesses and community, distribution of food and hygiene packages for families in need, etc.
  • Most municipal representatives (71%) declared that they had cooperated with all line ministries/central level institutions during the spread of COVID-19 pandemic and 55% of them were ‘Very/somewhat satisfied’ with this cooperation.
  • More than half of municipal directors (57%) in this study have cooperated with the AKM, while the majority of them (82%) were “Somewhat/very Satisfied” with this cooperation. The cooperation between the municipal mayors and AKM was even higher (66%).
  • Emergency needs varied according to the specifics of the municipal directorates. However, two common emergency needs of most municipal directorates were the need for an economic recovery package, and allocation of the emergency fund.
  • Other emergency needs included: lack of health staff, lack of technological tools in schools, accurate guidelines for disinfection of public spaces, roads and urban furniture, etc.
  • The provision of protective measures, support funds and subsidies for various businesses were mentioned as measures that could also be taken by donor organizations, lending institutions, various associations, which would help in managing and overcoming this situation in municipalities.
  • Lastly, according to the majority of municipal directors (70%), their officials need capacity building/trainings on different topics such as managing emergencies, budget planning in emergency situations, online services training and procurement training, which most of them (78%) preferred to attend these trainings in person, rather through online platforms.

The study, designed by the Association of Kosovo Municipalities, was supported by the Swiss Cooperation Office in Kosovo (SDC) and was drafted on behalf of the AKM by UBO Consulting.