Mercy-USA has been working in Albania for more than a decade. In addition to our current projects, since the year 2000, we’ve been helping disadvantaged youth through better nutrition, health and hygiene projects, as well as education initiatives and vocational programs. We’ve been training small farmers to improve their yields with the latest farming technologies. and methods. Mercy-USA for Aid and Development has also been at the ready during natural disasters with food aid and distribution. To date, we have also provided more than 250,000 pounds of fresh meat to needy families in Albania.
Hygiene, Sanitation and Environmental Awareness Project
During the 2007-2008 school year, Mercy-USA for Aid and Development educated elementary school children in four districts of Albania (Lezha, Shkoder, Tirana and Elbasan) about proper hygiene and the importance of caring for the environment. M-USA also made necessary improvements to the sanitation facilities in the participating schools.
Over 2,800 students, teachers and their families in rural areas directly benefited from this project.
Academic Success through Better Nutrition and Attendance for 2004/2005 School Year
Under a $3.2 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Mercy-USA for Aid and Development provided daily lunch to over 32,000 vulnerable school children in ten districts in the economically depressed northern and central regions of Albania. The objectives of this project were to improve the children’s nutrition and encourage attendance, reduce drop out rates—especially among girls—and improve academic performance. In addition, Mercy USA improved the hygiene and health knowledge and awareness of these students and their teachers through seminars conducted by our health monitors.
All student achievement indicators increased at the end of the 2004/2005 school year when compared to the previous one. Total student enrollment increased 4.4%, and among girls, enrollment increased 4.9%. Total student attendance increased 0.7% .
Moreover, the total percentage of students who successfully passed increased 2% Total student average marks increased 8% and specifically 9% among girls.
Additionally, Mercy-USA and its local partners have built and improved infrastructure, such as kitchens, lunchrooms and water and sanitation at 39 schools.
Academic Success through Better Nutrition and Attendance for 2002/2003 School Year
Through a USDA Global Food for Education (GFEI) grant worth over $3 million, Mercy-USA carried out a daily school lunch program for over 30,600 children attending 67 primary schools in ten districts in the economically depressed northern and central regions of Albania during the 2003/2004 school year.
The objectives of this project were to improve the children’s nutrition and encourage attendance, reduce drop out rates—especially among girls—and improve academic performance.
All student achievement indicators increased at the end of the 2002/2003 school year when compared to the previous school year.
Compared to the previous school year, the total student enrollment increased 5.2%; and enrollment among girls increased 6.4%. Moreover, the total percentage of students who successfully passed increased 3% over the previous school year. Total student average grades also increased 6% and, specifically, 7% among girls.
Under GFEI, USDA donated surplus US agricultural commodities for use in school feeding and pre-school nutrition projects in developing countries. The World Food Programme (WFP) and 14 Private Voluntary Organizations (PVOs), including Mercy-USA, were selected as grantees under this pilot program.
Mercy USA also supported an English language-training course offered in the northern city of Shkoder.
Economic Growth and Income Generation
Technical Training for Small Farmers
From October 2007 to September 2008, Mercy-USA for Aid and Development provided technical training to small farmers in four districts of Albania (Shkoder, Kavaja, Berat and Tirana). The objectives of this training were to improve local agricultural production, stimulate the local economy, increase food security and promote the establishment of farmers’ cooperatives in these four districts.
Workshops covered topics such as fruit, vegetable, olive and maize production. Farmers were trained in basic production methods and new developments, effective ways of fighting crop infections and infestations, as well as simple management and marketing techniques. Approximately 280 farmers attended the twelve seminars held.
Livestock Feed Distribution During March and April 2003, Mercy-USA for Aid and Development distributed approximately 1.56 million pounds of animal feed to 3,737 family farmers in Lezha, a northern district of Albania. Each family received about 420 lb. of feed.
This distribution, which occurred in 13 villages throughout the district, came at a very critical time, with the region experiencing dry weather and a resulting shortage of grazing grass. Dairy farmers reported a 12 to 15% increase in milk production (about two liters per cow) as a result of this feed distribution. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) donated the feed and helped fund the administrative costs of this program.
Food for Work Program From May to August 2003, through a food-for-work program funded by WFP, Mercy-USA supervised improvements to a one-kilometer gravel road that links the small village of Sharra to the main highway. This project has improved access to this isolated village, whose primary school with 211 children participated in M-USA’s USDA-funded school lunch program.
Mercy-USA supervised the repairs, while the local government provided some material and transportation and the residents provided the labor and were compensated with WFP-donated food items. In 2002, M-USA completed a similar food-for-work program in the village of Milot.
Vocational Training Program From May to November 2003, Mercy-USA for Aid and Development, in partnership with the Orphans’ Association in Kruja, Albania, carried out a six-month tailoring and sewing course for 15 orphans in that town. The objective of this program was to help these orphaned girls to develop skills that allow them to support themselves eliminating dependence on charity and meager government assistance.
Emergency Relief Aid In February 2010, Mercy-USA for Aid and Development provided 40 flood-affected families in Mali Jushit village near Shkodra with 40 small electric baking ovens, 80 blankets, 800 pounds of detergent and 320 bars of soap.
Food Distribution Programs From February 2002 to January 2003, through a USDA sub-grant from Counterpart International (CPI) worth approximately $3.4 million, Mercy-USA for Aid and Development provided over 13 million pounds of wheat flour and beans to more than 120,000 vulnerable persons (30,225 families) in Albania. This food distribution project helped to feed orphans, the elderly, single-parent families, and persons with disabilities living in almost 100 towns and villages in 14 districts throughout the country.
During 2000, M-USA distributed almost 12.9 million pounds of wheat flour to approximately 200,000 vulnerable persons living in 364 towns and villages throughout Albania. The 2000 food aid program was also funded through a USDA sub-grant from CPI.
During 2001 and 2002, Mercy-USA distributed about 4.8 million pounds of WFP food items – wheat flour, beans, vegetable oil, canned meat and sugar – to over 31,000 vulnerable persons in remote, poverty-stricken regions of northern Albania. Many of our clients included orphans and persons with disabilities. Since 1997, M-USA has carried out a number of WFP-supported food aid projects throughout Albania.
During the last twelve years, Mercy-USA has provided about 250,000 pounds of meat to the needy.