Zoom in Details
A set of documents including design guidelines and performance indicators, backed-up by strong leadership, are mainstreaming early childhood development principles throughout the Tirana municipality, and across Tirana’s public spaces.
- Government Agencies Engaged:
- Education, Health, Housing, Parks and Gardens, Public Works and Maintenance, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design
- Implementing Agency:
- Municipality of Tirana, Qendra Marrëdhënie (QM)
- Funding Source:
- Bernard van Leer Foundation
- The guidelines focus on the neighbourhood scale, and are implemented across 55 neighbourhoods throughout Tirana.
- Implementation action in focus:
- Design your intervention
- Tirana, Albania
- City of Tirana
Summary of Intervention/Programme
Tirana’s mayor Erion Veliaj has structured his vision for urban change around children. This strategy has led to reclaiming iconic spaces from cars (Skanderbeg Square), renovating parks, building new playgrounds (one new playground per month during the mayor’s mandate), revamping kindergarten facilities and beautifying the city with playful interventions.
To keep pace with its exciting momentum, the city needed a long-term strategy for neighbourhood development. Given the lack of data about the quality of the built environment at the neighbourhood scale, QM spearheaded a large data collection effort, counting everything from road signs to sidewalk widths to air quality and noise levels, stored in GIS through a phone application.
The indicators are also the backbone of the design guidelines that QM has developed in close partnership with the City of Tirana, the Bernard van Leer Foundations and its technical assistance partners. Ultimately, they will serve as a toolkit for the newly expanded urban planning and design teams in the municipality when they make strategic interventions in the design of streets, public spaces, neighbourhoods, parks or services.
What worked well
Urban95 peer learning
The development of the design guidelines for Tirana benefitted from various knowledge sharing processes within the Urban95 programme. First, from the sharing of documents and experiences around Urban95 from the technical team in the headquarters and locally (The Bernard van Leer foundation’s former senior advisor on Urban95, Darell Hammond, is based in Tirana) to local teams, and ensuring a constant dialogue at both strategic and technical level. Secondly, by training and exposing local partners (Simon Battisti, director of Qendra Marrëdhënie, the NGO spearheading the process) to other community of practices around Urban95, through events, study tours and conferences. Thirdly, by concretely bringing together Urban95 teams in India, Tirana and The Hague to work on drafting guidance document for the Indian Urban95 strategy, which was under development at the same time.
Strong political leadership
The rapid pace and quality of the design guidelines produced was enabled by a commitment within the Tirana municipality to raise the issue of early childhood development. Strong political leadership and engagement from the Mayor and the head of various city departments such as Urban Planning allowed for the coordination mechanisms to function and for the project to advance. It is also the main factor in ensuring the implementation of the design guidelines.
What didn't work well
It is an enormous effort for cities to embrace data, not only in the commitment to funding a program, but the analysis of physical space represents a sea change in mentality as well. Thorny questions await immediately beyond the threshold of gathering the first baseline: ownership, stewardship, public accessibility, to name a few. Data should expose; and convincing department heads that tracking ITC indicators would be empowering and not undermining remains a challenge.
When data does exist about child and caregiver health in Albania, it is never disaggregated to the neighbourhood level. When it comes to reporting, challenges lie there too: inter-agency or inter-level rivalries can make reporting data slow and unreliable.
In response to the challenges presented by “small data” the Tirana indicators are written to minimize reporting required of national agencies. Birth weights for example, can be gathered from local health centres instead of the Ministry of Health.
More coordination is required, but the data is much better and in theory that effort is worthwhile. QM partnered with other local entities to spread the burden of labour needed for physical counting, while continuing to operate as the central coordinator for the whole set.