IBNA Special Report
Tirana, February 2, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Edison Kurani
Albania is one of the countries that will suffer the most serious consequences of the world climate changes. This was announced by the World Bank which in the recent days published the latest report on the threats that the world faces from extreme climate changes from global warming in the 100 years to come.
The World Bank report says that due to the floods, Serb economy saw a minus 2% economic growth last year. Similar situations which are also being experienced at the present by Albania with floods in many areas of the country, are seen as causes for a negative economic impact in the period to come.
“The Balkan economy was seriously impacted last year from climate changes. Floods took Serb economy into negative territory, while other countries saw serious damages in their economy due to the weather”, says the World Bank in its report for the global perspective of climate developments.
“In the future, the economy of the Balkan region will largely depend on the whims of the weather”, says the World Bank report.
How is Albanian economy facing floods
The floods that have been seen in the country, especially in the south, have caused not only social problems, but also problems in the road transport. Swathes cultivated with crops, fruits and vegetables in the areas of Fier and Vlora have been damaged to a great extent.
Experts of the ministry of Agriculture say that these areas have the highest production performance in the country. Significant areas of green houses have been seriously damaged, but damages to agricultural land will also have impacts in next summer’s produces.
Therefore, experts say that the damage caused by floods has consequences for the future and it will significantly affect the economy.
On the other hand, there have also been damages on household economies. The efforts and savings of entire families are destroyed within a matter of hours from the floods. The consequences may have an impact for a long time on these households, because economic situation in general is serious.
In the south, there are many cases of families flooded and evacuated as a result of the water.
Expenses for the state budget are also affected. The government must increase expenses for the improvement of embankments and roads in flooded areas. This will be an extra expense for the government’s finances, thus diverting funds, as it was the case with the previous government which was forced to act by stopping funding for national projects such as the Road of Arber and to concentrate funds for the floods in Shkoder five years ago.
It’s a fact that in the past ten years, floods have turned into a constant phenomenon in both south and north. What needs to be stressed is that the areas with the highest agricultural concentration are most affected by the damages.
But does the Albanian state have information about the cost of these phenomena that come as a result of climate changes? There’s no such official information. The government unofficially says that there has not been a feasibility study on the costs of climate changes in the economic life and public finances, but the current government, like the previous one, often engage in order to reduce the effects of the floods. In several cases, families are partially compensated, roads undergo repairs, while in the long term, there are plans to avoid further floods such as the one in Shkoder.
World Bank has gloomy forecasts for the region
In its latest report on the threats that the world faces from extreme climate changes from global warming, the World Bank stops on Albania and Balkan in general. Albania is seen as one of the countries that will suffer the most serious effects of these changes.
The weakness of Western Balkan and Albania in tackling climate changes is mainly linked to agricultural production, which feeds a large part of the population, that depends on the incomes generated from agriculture.
However, forecasts indicate a growth of production for irrigated cultures several parts of the region. The growth of temperature will cause droughts and extreme river currents, offering a challenge for the production of electricity.
Health at risk
The latest floods and landslides will seriously affect the health and wellbeing of people.
Climate conditions in the region are more and more resembling to tropical conditions, suitable for tropical fever and other illnesses. The intensity of events from the extremes of weather may cause a seasonality of death rate. Albania and former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have been particularly affected by heat waves.
The general number of deaths from high temperatures is expected to rise, as warming is expected to go up by 2 degrees Celsius until 2100.
Sea level is rising, Balkan will face a new wave of floods
Balkan countries will also be affected by the rise of sea levels. The increase of the sea levels in the region is expected to be 0,52 m above the average (0,37-0,9 m) until 2011. However, this is a little below the global average. Two of the most threatened coasts in the region are rivers Drin and Mat in Albania.
Empiric observations show that the rise in temperature and the extreme weather events, such as floods, may lead to a pollution of drinking water, salmonellosis, cholera, typhus and dysentery. Evidence from Albania and FYROM in Western Balkan, indicate an increase of the vulnerability from climate changes.
Waters in Albania will be reduced significantly
Agricultural production plays an important part in local economies, especially in Albania. In its latest report, the World Bank says that Albania’s water sources are predicted to fall between 14%, which is the current level, to 40% until the end of the century.
The climate change through the rise of winter temperatures leads to an accumulation of snow in water collectors. As a result of this, Albania will constantly suffer from floods, which are problematic for agriculture, delaying the cultivation of cultures or damaging crops.
Forecasts until 2050 on Albania show that floods may double. Changes in the Albanian agricultural sector will be larger for grapes and olives. However, under this scenario, wheat production is expected to grow by 24%, due to a longer season with rising temperatures and moderated temperatures in winter.
On the other hand, water is the main source of energy in Albania. Albania almost produces all of its energy from hydro power plants. The majority of Balkan countries rely on thermal sources of electricity, therefore, the assessment of the effects of climate changes in this sector is particularly important. Albania is recommended to diversify its sources of energy, as the fall in water capacities will cause difficulties in this process at a time when demands are growing. /ibna/