Albanian Network for Rural Development hosted the annual PREPARE Gathering on Wednesday, 14th September to Friday, 16th September 2016, held for the first time in Voskopoja, Albania.
The Gathering included a multinational thematic exchange within the ALTER project. It served to ensure intensive dialogue on two key issues which are central to the ALTER project:
– Strengthening the capacity of CSOs and CSO Networks to participate actively in policy planning and implementation, to build a strong civil society in rural areas, and to enhance regional development through networking and cooperation
– Building the partnership of CSOs and CSO Networks with public institutions and their involvement in decision-making and governance processes, for the well-being of rural communities, particularly in the countries covered by the ALTER project.
Participants of this event were members of the PREPARE partner organizations and the PREPARE Network and the partners of the ALTER project, as well as invited guests. The Gathering was attended by about 75 participants, with background on agriculture and rural development sectors. Among distinguishable guests who graced the event with their presence were Mr. Sotiraq Filo – Mayer of Municipality of Korca; Mrs. Nadia Kyuchukova – representative of the European Union Delegation to Albania; Mr. Grigor Gjeci – Head of the Managing Authority of MoARDWA; Mr. Boban Ilic – SWG Secretary General etc.
The programme started on 14th September, including four Travelling Workshops: visits to local initiatives in rural Albania. There were four created groups, who visited the Voskopoja, Vithkuq, Shirgjan and Permet area, to understand the lifestyle, culture, tradition and the reality of living in rural areas. Parts of these visits were livestock farms, production fabrics, artisanal handicraft processing’s etc. This was followed by the International Buffet Dinner, where each participant had brought local products from their region to contribute to the international sustainable buffet, a delectable selection of foods, highlighting the features of each country and the importance of family, smallholder farmers and producers.
The Opening Conference of the PREPARE Gathering started on Thursday, 15th September. The first panel was presented by Mr. Michael Dower, who gave keynote address, presentation on the theme and the programme; Mr. Sotiraq Filo, Mayer of Municipality of Korca, addressed his welcome speech to participants and invited guests on rural development and its future in Albania, especially in Korca region; Mr. Sotiraq Hroni, Chairman of ANRD, who represented the story behind the creation of the network, things achieved so far and the vision for the future; and Mr. Dragan Roganovic, President of NRDS, focusing on the ALTER project and rural development partnerships.
Following this session, there were two of five parallel simultaneous multinational workshops. The first five simultaneous workshops had as main theme “Strengthening the capacity of CSOs and CSO Networks to participate actively in policy planning and implementation, to build a strong civil society in rural areas, and to enhance regional development through networking and cooperation”. The second five simultaneous workshops focused on “Building the partnership of CSOs and CSO Networks with public institutions, and their involvement in decision-making and governance processes, for the well-being of rural communities.”
The cultural programme followed the closing of the first day of the conference.
It was organized a festive dinner with traditional Albanian dishes and traditional music, played and signed by the Korca Serenade Band. Surprise of the evening was also the Korca Folk Dance Group, who enlivened the atmosphere, dancing the typical Albanian ‘valle’ (dances) – it was a wonderful show exhibiting the talents and potentials of the children. During the evening were distributed some little gifts, as part of a short quiz prepared for the participants.
The second day of the PREPARE Gathering, Friday 16thSeptember, was presided by Mr. Hannes Lorenzen. The session was structured according to the sub themes addressed during the parallel workshops. This part of the Conference served to group discussions, active participation, comments, and reflections on the main themes discussed during the workshops. The later part of the Plenary Session was devoted to a broader debate upon the main themes discussed. The session was closed by referring the main issues requiring progress.
The last panel was presented by Mr. Grigor Gjeci, Mrs. Nadia Kyuchukova, Mr. Hannes Lorenzen, Mr. Dragan Roganovic and Mr. Michael Dower. In this panel of end of formal proceedings, were given the official addresses on regard of rural development, future perspectives and challenges ahead for everyone involved: public institutions, private institutions, interest groups and active individuals spelling out their key messages in view of rural development.