779 persons from 8 cities of Albania (Tirana, Durrës, Elbasan, Korça, Fier, Shkodër, Kukës and Lezhë) were part of the assessment of the impact that COVID-19 pandemic had on families in need, conducted by Terre des hommes (Tdh) during the last two months. According to this assessment, where 53.6% of respondents are children and young people and 46.4% over 25 years old, it is noticed that the main concerns added by COVID-19 relate to:
- the difficult economic situation for 96% of the interviewees;
- children's education for 94% of respondents;
- the fear that measures will last for 93% and
- the risk that they or relatives may be affected/ lose their lives by COVID-19 for 89% of respondents.
The new realities created by the COVID-19 pandemic show that 4 out of 5 people surveyed (80%) are unemployed and that 22% of them have lost their jobs due to pandemics. Only 2 out of 10 respondents state that they continue to have a regular monthly income. On the other hand, the lack of income and the inability to provide the necessary food products for the family, has brought psychological challenges for 96% of respondents.
"Frankly, this situation has completely blocked us. We thought we were starting to settle in our new life, but the economic situation of our family has deteriorated so much because both my son and I are unemployed now. Since March 11, I have only worked for 10-11 days because there are no more requests from the company where I work. My son also worked as a bartender until before the coronavirus, but since the premises were closed, he has not worked at all", says A.C., beneficiary of the empowerment and reintegration services at the Multi-functional Community Center Lezha, established by Tdh.
Child education has also become one of the main concerns for parents. According to Alketa Lasku, Country Director of Terre des hommes in Albania, children in need are facing significant difficulties in attending online classes and measures must be taken to ensure access and support programmes should be offered to minimize the consequences.
For 488 respondents, online learning is one of the main reasons for using the Internet during this period. 69% of children have the opportunity to follow the lesson only sporadically by using limited/cheapest mobile data plans or by "borrowing" the neighbours' Internet access. A main concern is the fact that 16% of the 418 children surveyed have no opportunity to attend online classes as they do not have any form of internet access. Only 15% of children have stable Internet access and can fully attend online classes.
Regarding the trust in the responsible institutions for the management of the pandemic situation (apart from non-governmental organizations), the highest trust is in the health institutions and the State Police, meanwhile, the lowest level of trust is in the Social Service and Economic Assistance System, followed by the local administration and then by the Albanian Parliament / Government. On the other hand, 80% of respondents believe that appropriate measures have been taken in response to pandemics. Specifically, more than 1 in 2 people consider these measures necessary, 26.2% claim that although the measures taken in response to COVID-19 may be fair, it is impossible for them to follow them due to the specific conditions and 18.4% consider them excessive or unnecessary.
Based on the findings of this assessment, Terre des hommes in Albania recommends:
- Developing short-term and long-term strategies for the economic recovery of social groups in need, for the management of financial difficulties and employment during the transition phase of the re-opening and beyond;
- Developing a strategy for minimizing the damage to the mental health of vulnerable people and rigorously managing the long-term effects that are expected to follow;
- Focusing the calls for applications of the Social Fund for Municipalities, by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, to the interventions for recovery from the consequences of pandemics with special focus on vulnerable groups;
- Providing after-school support and summer school programmes by the Ministry of Education, to recover lessons for children and young people who have had difficulty in attending the online learning process;
- Enabling with Internet access or communication and information opportunities for groups in need, in the situation of natural disaster or civil emergency;
- Strengthening the capacities of child protection employees in the management of cases of abuse and domestic violence which need a continuous and proactive prosecution.
For more information, please contact: Marinela Gremi, Communication Officer, Terre des hommes Albania, firstname.lastname@example.org, +355 69 63 62 908