Despite turbulence in the past, Kosovo is undergoing rapid economic development at present. However, this is not distributed evenly across all populations and parts of the country. However, there are numerous development projects in Kosovo working to change that. These five promise to make a major difference.
USAID Engagement for Equity
This program works to support local civil society groups in developing policies to promote greater equity for marginalized groups and communities in Kosovo. This project has had a broad reach and has made especially notable improvements in gender equity. Kosovo has relatively strong protections for women on the books, but few women are aware of their rights and often have difficulty taking advantage of them because of the patriarchal culture in Kosovo that is common in many Balkan societies. This problem is especially pronounced when it comes to property rights, as women traditionally did not own or inherit property.
USAID recently worked with Kosova Women 4 Women to organize a class that taught women what their rights are and how to exercise them. While this seems small, this is an example of development projects in Kosovo that have a much broader reach than they seem. Women who have property in their names or register property jointly with their husbands have a much easier time accessing credit, which helps them to start small businesses, promoting the growth of the entire economy as well as greater financial security for women.
LuxDev Health Sector Support Programme
Luxembourg has been a major donor to Kosovo’s health sector for many years and has contributed to many successful projects. This latest project is expected to be completed in 2019 and will build on the successes of previous projects. Its goals primarily center around improving institutional capacity and management to ensure full implementation of previous achievements, as well as increasing the access to and affordability of care.
InTerDev 2 is the latest in a series of projects supported by the UNDP to reduce economic insecurity, particularly in southern Kosovo and among minorities and women. Its primary goals are to bring down the high unemployment rate, address underemployment and precarious employment, improve public services, and end the socioeconomic exclusion of women and minority groups. The plan is to do this by expanding the capacity of municipalities and local actors, especially in rural areas, to assist underserved populations, supporting small and medium-sized business owners who wish to modernize and expand and by promoting job growth at the local level.
Kosovo Safety and Security Project
This comprehensive approach to security, spearheaded by the U.N. but also supported by several EU member states, seeks to improve security in Kosovo by focusing on small arms control, countering violent extremism, and improvements in policing. Recent years have seen multiple development projects in Kosovo focus on addressing violent crime and cracking down on the illegal trade and possession of small firearms and explosive materials. The Safety and Security Project seeks to build on best practices learned from these projects to strengthen and empower Kosovo’s law enforcement agencies. Another effect of this project will be to bring Kosovo into compliance with EU regulations regarding firearms, helping to put Kosovo on a more equal footing with its neighbors. It is also hoped that the root causes of illegal weapons possession can be mitigated, helping to make Kosovo safer.
Institutional and Technical Support for the Water Supply System
This project is a follow-up to the 2016 project of the same name, both organized by Luxembourg. The 2016 project saw the creation of the Mitrovica Regional Water Company and supporting infrastructure. The current project aims to strengthen the management and customer service capabilities of the company and enable it to run more efficiently from a business standpoint. This comes as other development projects in Kosovo are also working to strengthen and support private sector activity. Also included in the current project are the use of satellite imagery to identify leaks and the replacement of some aging infrastructure to make the water supply system more efficient and more environmentally friendly by reducing the amount of water wasted as a result of leaks.
These projects all promise to jump-start economic development in Kosovo and lift people out of poverty. They will all have a major impact on quality of life and some even promise to help calm the lingering tensions in Kosovo as a result of the conflict. Improved economic conditions and stronger legal frameworks will also make major strides towards rectifying the ongoing issues surrounding property ownership. Once this is resolved, the credit access problem in Kosovo will also become much more manageable. Taken together, these improvements promise to strengthen Kosovo’s economy and bring down the poverty rate, which is good for everyone.
– Michaela Downey