While Coronavirus keeps circulating all over the world, governments and civic society organizations are each implementing their own measures to face the pandemic, thus giving a variety of local responses to this global phenomenon.
For months now, ALDA member the Local Council Association (LCA) has been doing just that in its home country of Malta, and ALDA is proud to share such contribution as one of the good practices to counter the crisis that we are studying through our ad hoc questionnaire. In cooperation with the island’s authorities, LCA is in fact involved in the management of two projects that could actually continue and evolve even after the end of the current emergency, given their proven ability to improve the quality of life in Malta.
The first project is called YouSafe. Starting from the assumption that any crisis can be seen as an opportunity to improve behaviours and procedures, its founding idea is for the pandemic to act as a motivation for Local Councils to move away from a model of delivering services to and for people, and adopt a model of delivering services with people instead.
Indeed, YouSafe’s setup consists of 68 Facebook Groups, one for each Maltese Local Council, which are managed and moderated independently by each Local Council’s team. All groups then come together under a single ad hoc Facebook Page aiming to facilitate growth, the dissemination of general information and the cross-sharing of information among the different communities and Local Councils. Moreover, the team managing each group is encouraged to take part in conversations to reach a variety of goals, among which the creation and fostering of dialogue with local inhabitants; a greater involvement in decision-making; the energising of residents around particular initiatives or topics; and a habit for communities to help one another.
Secondly but not less importantly, the LCA is carrying forward the Slow Streets project, too. In cooperation with the Ministry for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government and in coordination with Transport Malta and the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Project, the Association is working on an action plan to make sure that the mobility flows resuming after Coronavirus’ first wave are safe, sustainable, healthy and efficient.
More specifically, as travelling on foot and by bycicle will keep being the most recommended ways to get around for short and medium distances, the plan wishes to promote walking and cycling; and, with that in mind, it foresees a few necessary temporary interventions. Such short-term actions can in turn be considered as a tool to test ideas before implementing large-scale and expensive projects which might run the risk of not actually meeting the designed goals, while some may prove so successful as to become permanent or cyclical from their very onset.
All actions are part of the LCA Vision 2019-2024 plan, through which Malta will implement actions in the four key sectors of urban green; mobility and sustainable transport; smart city; and open space. Hoping that this can serve as inspiration for others, ALDA wishes to congratulate the Local Council Association for its amazing efforts so far: keep up the remarkable work!