Poverty in Albania remains a problem throughout the country. Albania is currently one of the poorest countries in Europe. Nearly one quarter of the national population lives in extreme poverty, surviving off of two US dollars a day. That is a total of over 800,000 people.
The majority of the poverty comes from the rural areas, where a large portion of the population lives. Fifty seven percent of Albania’s population inhabits these regions of the country. That means over a half of the country is immersed in the economic struggle to provide food for their family.
The issues of Albania’s high poverty levels stem from the adjustments their country has made politically. Albania was once immersed in a rigid communist state that operated under a planned economy. The government allocated all of the resources throughout the country. Finally becoming free of communist control and developing into a democratic state created a free market economy. The citizens could then provide for themselves and market themselves to make a living.
The free market economy struggles in Albania due to its isolated villages leading to a lack of available consumers. Due to this rural, spread-out geography, farmers are unable to travel to other markets and sell their crops. In such a setting it is difficult for a sustainable economy to thrive and for jobs to be created, and these low incomes and staggering unemployment keep this cycle of poverty continuing.
Albania boasts a rich landscape and thriving culture that is very attractive to tourists. To the citizens who inhabit those mountains however, it is a land of inopportunity. Nearly eighty percent of incomes come from some form of assistance, whether it be social protection, economic assistance, or disability payments. In order for these families to survive, change is needed. Economic opportunities must be provided to the people of Albania.
– William Norris