An administrator’s office establish a positive environment to address COVID-19 issues!

Going beyond cash transfers

UNICEF Albania
28 December 2021

Municipal offices looking at economic aid applications are much like confessionals: inside their walls you will listen to many prayers and requests, hopes and complaints, appreciations, or disappointments.

Yllka Brahimllari, a Social Administrator with 14 years of experience working to review the applications to economic aid in Lezha, shared her thoughts and experience over the impact of COVID-19 and the innovative ways of bringing the individuals and their families closer to the services they are entitled to.

“Pandemic has been devastating for many families in our region. They coped with the severe disruptions of services that impacted their everyday lives.” - explained Yllka.

Controlling the COVID-19 infodemic became one of the challenges that Yllka and her team faced. The overabundance of information made it hard for the community to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.

Yllka and her staff teamed up with a civil society organization (YWCA) to remind the affected population of the public health recommendations to prevent the infection from COVID-19.

In addition, Yllka states that they have put a lot of effort to raise awareness on vaccination. “We have worked tirelessly to raise awareness for families that come to our office during family visits or during the occasional meetings we have with families that benefit from the economic aid".

Something that she notices is that the Economic Aid office is mainly visited by women, as they are more likely to experience the challenges of both work and parenting. Despite the economic aid, mothers find answers to their questions for additional information related to scholarship awards for their children, compensation for electricity, mitigation of taxes and obligations, vocational courses, and employment possibilities.

Furthermore, supporting parents of children with disability was another challenge.

"We managed to help with the procedures for disability allowance and connect them with other sectors of our directorate related to social welfare.” - Yllka stated.

With the support of UNICEF and partners, families receiving economic aid in the municipality of Lezha can now access social care services in a more innovative way, beyond the cash payment.

Evidence shows that integrating cash transfers with other components, top-ups for school, vaccines, subsidies for health and utilities can generate additional benefits for individuals, as well as their households. Due to the pandemic, the Economic Aid Offices have provided risk information about COVID-19 to individuals and families.

Two years from now, Yllka and her team know what good quality care looks like in times of pandemic and the importance to ensure the continuity of the basic services for the most vulnerable communities.

This story is written as part of the program " Families and children in need have access to services and information to prevent the spread of COVID-19" - implemented by the Young Women's Christian Association of Albania (YWCA) and supported by UNICEF and USAID.