Cash support program -first-of -its kind- to strengthen resilience of the families in need

UNICEF’s response COVID19

By Klodiana Kapo for UNICEF
bukuria
UNICEF/ALBANIA/2020
03 August 2020

Bukuria, 35, a single mother of two children with disabilities lives alone with her sons in the city’s suburbs of Durrës, Albania.  After being abandoned by her husband who could not handle the children’s disability and the poverty they were living in, she is lives alone, struggling to make ends meet. 
“I have no other income but the disability allowance granted to my sons,” stated Bukuria, while gazing at the hands of the postman who is delivering an envelope on behalf of the municipality. The family is benefitting from a cash support program in Durrës thanks to the UNICEF cash transfer program to help families cope with the financial burden brought about due to several weeks of lockdown. 
The recent emergencies, the earthquake of 2019, and  COVDID-19 affected many families in Albania. Despite measures implemented  by the government, there still are poor families which could not benefit from government support packages and economic assistance. Hence, they are facing difficulties in meeting their basic needs: feeding their children, buying medication, or even maintaining hygiene. Bukurie’s family is one of these. In order to help families in need and children cope with the financial burden caused by COVID -19, UNICEF is piloting for the first time in Albania a Humanitarian Cash Transfer program in the three largest municipalities, Shkodra, Korça and Durrës.
“At UNICEF, we are working to support the resilience and well‐being of children, young people and families struggling with the challenges posed by COVID-19. We have enough evidence that proves how cash transfers can make a difference in children’s lives and help families  meet child-specific needs – food, health, and education. The most important thing is to help them cope with the side  effects of the shock while maintaining their dignity” says Alketa Zazo, Social Policy Specialist, UNICEF Albania.The isolation from the pandemic has affected many elders who have no family at their side. 
Zoje, 84, lives in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Durrës. Nobody had knocked at her door since the beginning of the pandemic. Her children live abroad. She lives completely alone. Away from her children who hardly can support her, considering they are unemployed, she is looked after by one of her generous neighbors. “In these hard times, sharing a piece of bread won’t be a burden to anyone.” her neighbor says. 
The postman’s arrival with the envelope was like a breath of fresh air for the old lady, who hadn't received any guests in her house for months. She also benefitted from the cash transfer program. Despite the government efforts, the current economic situation in Albania doesn’t seem promising. 
According to the World Bank analysis, the poverty rate in the county after the earthquake and the COVID-19 pandemic may increase with 4.8% and it is more prevalent in urban areas. Informality in Albania is still high and unemployment has deeply affected this segment of the society. 
UNICEF will continue to support hundreds of families in three municipalities of the country being faced with the economic crisis in this unprecedented time.