Kosovo: How the Future is Fashioned by GIS December 15, 2008Posted by Bahadir Sahin in Calismalar (Studies), English, Haber (News).
Tags: development planning, GIS-based, Spatial Development
In the Kosovian Municipality Suva Reka, a group of space designers from Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) tracked and escorted the transition from a catastrophic management to a regulated development planning. In cooperation with the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) – and the Austrian Armed Forces, the first GIS-based development planning for what was once a crisis region emerged as an unparalleled pilot project under the slogan “helping people to help themselves”. Vienna (TU).
Before, accompanied by the Austrian Armed Forces, the TU Vienna research team traveled to Suva Reka in the year 2001, there had been no actual city or municipality cadastre. At that time only the mayor was informed about the property situation and was aware of new buildings that had been built with or without approval. Only a small part of the existing items corresponded to the plans. “In the year 2002, our research work started in Suva Reka initially with a feasibility analysis. Since there were no basic charts, only a 50-year old cadastre, we tried to get as much information as possible,” tells Thomas Dillinger from the TU Vienna Department of Spatial Development, Infrastructure and Environmental Planning. At the end of the feasibility analysis, a “Municipality Development Plan” was agreed upon and an “Urban Development Plan” (for the city of Suva Reka) was to be developed. In 2003, a student program in collaboration with Prishtina University started and generated the first information for designing the development plans. Project participant Nina Svanda relates: “In November 2003, we were at the site with 15 TU Vienna students, and we looked around to where the houses stood and the streets ran. A basic chart and an orthophoto that we could manage to get were placed one over the other and then saved electronically as a GIS-based file.”
In the year 2006, the Austrian Development Cooperation took over the project and funded it with approximately 600,000 Euro. An Austrian-Kosovian project team (mecca environmental consulting, Reinberg and Partner, Urban+) led by TU Vienna was put together. In addition to creating a planning basis and documenting current data, as well as preparing both development plans, the two-year project also includes training the employees of the local administration among others in the form of a GIS training. “This computer training has been offered in order for the people to be able to work with the generated data also in the future. We wanted to show how the already existing data may be further used and extended,” says Dillinger. For Andreas Fritz, leader of the ADC Office in Pristina, the intense involvement of the population in the process of designing the planning holds great significance. This ensures that the implementation of the plans will be generally accepted. In March 2008, the simplified area allocation plan was finally completed, which offers for the first time a legal basis for future activities and developments in this area. “The plans are decided unanimously by the General Assembly, a type of municipality council made up of representatives of the municipality. This was a great success for us,” asserts Dillinger. With this basis, potential developments within the district can be better put into practice. A four-column model sees potential for the municipality Suva Reka in its agriculture (viticulture), but also in nature-based tourism and in product processing, and even renewable energy is a major topic.
Consequently, this unique pilot project for city development in a post-war period creates the necessary prerequisite for a planned city development that would counteract the urban sprawl. Dillinger: “If there is a request at the Municipality, and someone for example would like to establish a company, then the qualified areas for this purpose may be offered. Urban sprawl is a major topic in Kosovo. Construction takes place where the infrastructure is, where streets are. This of course will bring about huge costs for the Municipality since electricity, water and sewage must be installed in those areas. Rethinking can only take place gradually.”
The Suva Reka Municipality, a major Municipality that counts approximately 80,000 inhabitants, has always been populated mainly by Kosovian Albanians. But abandoned houses and house frames still witness the acts of war. The place is situated at 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Prishtina. In Suva Reka, there is also “Casablanca,” the camp of the Austrian Armed Forces.