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Skenderaj
Posted on by travelkosova

Kosova's Cities Skėnderaj/Srbica municipality is located in the north centre of Kosova, south of Mitrovica municipality. The territory of the municipality is mostly a high, rolling plateau running westward from the foothills of the Qyqavica Mountains, with its highest peak at 1080 meters. It consists of 52 villages organised in 12 districts (Bashkia Lokale).

Skėnderaj/Srbica town is located on the road leading south to Gllogovc/Glogovac and along the main road from Mitrovicė/Mitrovica to Pejė/Peć. The municipality constitutes the core of the Drenica Valley, a region with a long history of Kosovo Albanian defiance to Serbian authority. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was founded in this countryside and Skėnderaj/Srbica has since been considered its stronghold.

The military operations that took place in Prekaz i Ulėt/Donji Prekaz in March 1998 represents a defining episode in the escalation of armed conflict in Kosovo. The target of the operation was the home of the KLA leader who today is considered a martyr by the Kosovo Albanian population. His home has been turned into a memorial that hosts hundreds of visitors from all over Kosovo.

Economy
Skėnderaj/Srbica is historically the poorest municipality in Kosovo. Virtually all the inhabitants suffered heavy damage during the decade where there were little investments (1980s-1990s).

Agriculture represents the major economy but, despite the economic potential of its 3,000 hectares of fertile land, Skėnderaj/Srbica did not develop the arable land. As a result of the poor yield, domestic consumption traditionally prevailed over commercialisation. The major means for processing primary produce was the socially owned mill (now abandoned), where bread was sold at a regional level. Livestock, including cows and poultry, represent a big part of the traditional food economy.

The area partially benefited from the investment resources allocated during the 1970-80s by the central authorities. The major factories established in this period were the brick factory, the ammunition factory, and the textile factory. Together, with the publicly owned enterprise Drenica Company, they employed over 1,000 persons. The brick factory is set to become operational this year.

In the early 1990s almost all the factories were closed or relocated. Only the ammunition factory continued its production until 1998, when it was turned into a military base. With the progressive expulsion of 1,887 public employees and the massive migration into Western Europe, unemployment was high in the late 1990s.

Agriculture suffered major conflict-related damage. Agar production plummeted and with tractors and combine machines destroyed, the planting season was missed and livestock was lost or killed. Throughout the year 2000, the rural areas of the municipality were heavily dependent on food aid distribution. Tilling of farmland restarted in the 2000-2001 season. Following the post-conflict urbanisation, in Skėnderaj/Srbica town, the population grew from approximately 5,000 to 8,000. The town’s economy consists of three basic areas including small family-headed enterprises, employees, and the grey market.

The first area includes activities in trade, including small shops and services, restaurants and car washes. Although there is an absence of a regulatory framework, these quick-profit commercial enterprises constitute the backbone of the municipality’s internal market.

The second area of employment is composed of the municipality’s civil service, where approximately 1,500 are employed. International agencies also employ a large number of local persons. During 2001, while a number of government organisations and NGOs were scaling down their activities, the overstaffed municipality decided to downsize the local civil service in an attempt to introduce more transparency in the municipal hiring system.

A Health House with 191 doctors and health staff operates in Skėnderaj/Srbica town. It provides first aid and general assistance for the majority of the population and includes a maternity hospital. The building is in very poor condition and for urgent cases, patients are sent to the hospitals in Mitrovicė/Mitrovica and in Prishtinė/Priština. A network of 11 Health stations (ambulantas) serves 52 villages of the municipality. The local doctors visit patients twice a week. In the two Kosovo Serb villages, health care is provided by French KFOR.

There are 21 schools functioning in the municipality, with two main high schools (Gymnasium and Technical school) located in the main town, and two other in Runik/Rudnik and in Turiqevc/Turičevac. Pre-school education classes are present in the main villages, while the only kindergarten is in Skėnderaj/Srbica town. The total number of personnel employed in the education sector is 802, of which 502 are teachers.
Although seriously damaged by the conflict, many schools have been rehabilitated by international agencies and only a few still lack basic infrastructures. Transport constitutes a problem for all the students. The two buses provided by USAID seem to be insufficient for the majority of students who come from the remote villages of the municipality. A primary school, located in the village of Banja/Bajė provides education for 32 Kosovo Serb children living in the minority areas.
(Source: UN Civil Administration Skėnderaj/Srbica)

 
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