Credit Access in MoldovaThe Republic of Moldova, a small, post-Soviet landlocked country bordering Ukraine to the north and Romania to the south, currently grapples with issues of economic freedom. According to the Index of Economic Freedom, Moldova ranks as the 97th freest economy in the world with Russia at 98th and Burkina Faso at 96th. With 180 countries ranked, the Heritage Foundation categorizes Moldova as a mostly unfree economy. Credit access in Moldova suffers along with its corrupt economic and political culture, affecting the most at-risk individuals in the population.

A Shift Away From the Agricultural Sector

Farming and agriculture once made up the bulk of Moldova’s domestic economy with agriculture accounting for 42 percent of the Moldovan GPD in 2000, according to a multi-national case study including USAID. The CIA World Factbook cites that in 2017, Moldovan agriculture made up only 17.7 percent of the GDP while Services took up 62 percent. In just 19 years, the Moldovan economy has experienced a rapid change. Moldova is transferring from an agrarian economy into a service-based economy, but during this transition, farmers are being left behind and their credit access in Moldova is dismal.

Farmers face the unique challenge of navigating a banking system that is new for their country. Before the year 2000, the Moldovan state owned all agrarian land. A USAID report explains how 800,000 private farmers became landowners and suddenly needed additional financial resources, yet struggled to acquire them since the amounts requested were only a few hundred dollars each–unattractive investments for local banks. The banks refused to work with the burgeoning independent farmer sector, making credit access impossible for many who needed small loans to fund and improve their businesses.

No Access to Investment

Along with the difficulties of learning a new market system, Moldovan farmers also encounter immense corruption in both government and business. The World Bank reports in its Country Partnership Framework (CPF) that “a massive bank fraud in 2013-14 enabled by political interference…led to depreciation of the currency, inflation, financial destabilization and loss of investor confidence.” Those who have no credit access in Moldova also have lower chances of receiving investment from outside the country because the risk of investing in a corrupt country carries too much risk for international investors.

The World Bank CPF explains that “limited access, inefficiency and poor quality have contributed to social exclusion, persistent poverty and vulnerability to shocks, especially in rural areas.” Rural farmers cannot rely on either the state or the banks to offer much-needed investment, and therefore are left without a critical resource essential to operating a thriving business.

The World Bank’s Moldovan Engagement

The World Bank currently sees transparency, accountability and corruption as the most pressing issues to the Moldovan economy. In an effort to stabilize the region and bring economic prosperity, the World Bank has ten active projects in Moldova. The organization cites three objectives: “strengthening the rule of law and accountability, improving access and quality of public services and enhancing the quality and relevance of education and training for job-relevant skills”. The objectives of The World Bank CPF, while broad, would allow for Moldovan farmers to either gain the credit access needed to operate their farms or expand into other sectors of the economy.

Three projects from The World Bank in particular help to solve the issue of credit access in Moldova. To help rural community members that wish to expand their horizons past farming, the World Bank has instituted the Moldova Education Reform Project, which gives out result-based specific loans to certain sectors of Moldovan education to improve the efficiency of the education sector and improve “the ministry of education’s capacity to monitor the reform”.

To help squash corruption and inefficiency, the World Bank also created the Tax Administration Modernization Project which reviews the Moldovan tax code to ensure an equal and comprehensive tax policy that supports the development of small businesses.

In an effort to help all Moldovans, the World Bank’s Moldova Economic Development Policy Operation Project (DPO) helps “to support the government of Moldova in reducing fiscal risks and leveling of the playing field for private sector development [by] strengthening oversight [and supporting] private sector development in access to business opportunities and resources”.

Lessons Learned

While credit access in Moldova is a complex issue, institutions like the World Bank that specialize in economic reform and recovery are getting involved in the country. Supporting institutions such as the World Bank helps the World’s poor help themselves by improving local economies and the governmental and business practices around them.

– Spencer Julian
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Poverty in Moldova

Moldova, a country located between Romania and Ukraine, was one of the richest countries in Europe while under the Soviet Union. By 1991, when Moldova claimed independence, its economic prowess dropped to an all-time low. This drastic change caused Moldova to become one of the poorest and least visited countries in Europe. Listed below are 10 facts about poverty in Moldova and the development of the country.

10 Facts About Poverty in Moldova

  1. Population: Moldova’s population is not accurate because of the many citizens that have left to go to neighboring countries, like Romania and Ukraine, in search of better jobs. Within the poorest areas of Moldova, it is very difficult for the people to find available jobs that will pay them more than $2 a day. In Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, the average salary after taxes is $237. This significant difference has caused around 300,000 to 800,00 people to look for work abroad. Officially the population is 4.4 million, but the number continues to decline.
  2. Shared Wells in Grozesti Cause Health Problems: Gathering clean water can be very difficult, especially for those living in Grozesti, a rural village in Moldova. There are only 12 shared wells within reach for 700 families, causing water to become scarce throughout the day. However, expert geologists proclaim that the water from these wells contains high levels of iron and fluoride, which can cause yellowing of the teeth. “Many locals suffer from stomach problems or kidney problems because of the mineral content…and there are also a lot of water-related diseases such as hepatitis.” Local doctors have also discovered that water consumption has led to untimely deaths.
  3. Inequality: The highest paying jobs in Moldova are in the country’s capital of Chisinau and the lowest pay is in the southern regions. There is also a gap in pay between men and women. Women are still receiving 12 percent less pay than men in careers dealing with “information and communication, industry, arts, leisure, and recreation sectors.” Income is not the only problem, though. Due to the small amount of access to wells in rural areas, “only 43 percent of the poor have access to clean water compared to the 90 percent located in town.” Those with disabilities are also at a disadvantage in rural communities because 70 percent of public areas do not have wheelchair accessibility. In May 2017, the OSCE Mission held lectures that informed others about the importance of gender equality and the economic life of the country, so that future generation would rise above the country’s current issues of inequality. About “900 students and teachers” attended and learned about what they could do to promote equality.
  4. Health Care Access: All the hospitals are mainly located in Chisinau, which means that many in rural areas must travel a long way to gain access to health care. In 1990, there were only 129 hospital beds and 40 doctors, and only 12 percent of the government’s budget went towards health care improvements. Today, “18 local hospitals and outpatient care in Chisinau” and “264 physicians per 100,00 people”, which is a lot more than two decades ago.
  5. Education: Although a vast majority of children attend school, many of those from rural areas find it more difficult to learn the basic principles of reading, mathematics and science. Due to the lack of skills among children, only 90 percent can attend primary school while only 85 percent attend lower secondary schools. Many organizations have donated towards the refurbishing of schools for children between the ages of three and six, which is an age group that Moldova has cared most about, but there are still children that do not have access to education. “Children with disabilities and those from Roma and rural communities are among the most disadvantaged.”
  6. Moldova Wine: Due to Moldova being one of the poorest countries in Europe, the economy relies heavily on agriculture, “featuring fruits, vegetables, wine, and tobacco.” Wine, however, is what the country is known for. One of the most famous wineries in the capital Chisinau is Cricova winery. Recently, Vladimir Putin traveled to Moldova just to get a taste of the wine for his birthday. “Almost 5 percent of the country’s territory is filled with vineyards…. Nowadays, Moldova exports over 90 percent of its wines, mostly to the European market.”
  7. Trans-Dniester River: Moldova formerly used Trans-Dniester river along the Dniester region for the trade of goods. However, when the region became aware of Moldova’s ties with Romania, it began the road to independence from Moldova in 1990. Moldova does not recognize this independence, however, due to the region’s land being directly in between the borders of Moldova and Ukraine. The Dniester region’s inability to gain full independence has led to continuous fights over the previously used route.
  8. Criminal Acts: In Moldova, there have been reports of organized crime groups that mainly originate from Trans-Dniester, the breakaway territory. Many of these crimes include “money laundering…and the smuggling of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, human beings, and illegal weapons…” The government attempted to implement ways to prevent organized crimes in 2005, but there was not much success in doing so. It has caused “the dearth of public education in Moldova concerning corruption, as well as the country’s prevalence of economic and social problems.”
  9. Sex Trafficking: As it becomes harder for one to acquire employment and obtain enough money for their families, many young women have become susceptible to sex trafficking. Women and young girls have been coerced into trafficking, being exploited in countries like Russia, Turkey, Italy, Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates. Between the years 2000 and 2005, records identified at least 1,760 victims in Moldova, but there may have been more due to many women not coming forward.
  10. Solutions: Moldova has grown as a country economically since 2009 when there was a global economic crisis. Among many of the problems that the country faces, however, is knowing how to compete with other countries that thrive on agriculture. The World Bank Group has made it its responsibility to ensure that Moldova has everything it needs to ensure that it continues to rise from poverty. “In 2006–12, roughly 500 matching grants provided to 479 firms for international quality certification and business development. Over US$ 22 million provided as a line of business credit to 60 enterprises.” The World Bank Group has also helped Moldova improve areas like agriculture, education, energy, social assistance, health, communities and public services.

The 10 facts about the poverty in Moldova listed above are not only informative about the country’s state of poverty, but also how it continues to look towards a better future. With the World Bank and other organizations, the country should continue to rise economically and further out of poverty.

– Emilia Rivera
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Moldova
The Republic of Moldova is a landlocked nation, situated between Romania and Ukraine. It is a former satellite nation of the USSR, gaining its independence in 1991. Moldova’s transition to democracy and a market-based economy has been very challenging. The country still remains one of Europe’s poorest countries, heavily dependent on Russian resources. However, poverty is decreasing at a steady rate. In the text below, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Moldova are presented.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Moldova

  1. Moldova is a relatively small nation and has around 3.5 million residents. One troubling statistic for its long-term outlook is a negative population growth rate of -1.06 percent. This can be attributed to low birth rates, along with economic migration from citizens to more affluent and developed nations.
  2. Moldova suffers from a phenomenon called “brain drain”, which affects many developing nations around the world. Skilled workers in a country with limited employment opportunities emigrate, depriving their home of talented professionals. According to Deutsche-Welle, it is estimated that every fourth Moldovan work abroad, with many taking advantage of having dual Romanian citizenship, entitling them to work throughout the European Union.
  3. In an effort to retain more of its skilled workforce, both the private sector and Moldovan government are investing in the technology startup infrastructure. Tech giants are investing in Moldova’s universities, along with a plan to contribute $112.000 to each of the 10 best Moldovan startups. Although this may be a nascent industry, building a tech-friendly business environment should help Moldova retain skilled workers, as well as integrate with the Western economy.
  4. Around 19 percent of rural Moldovans live in poverty, versus 5 percent in urban areas. Economic opportunities in rural Moldova are mainly limited to agriculture, with higher paying jobs concentrated in cities such as the capital Chisinau.
  5. Moldova vacillates between allying with its more EU friendly neighbors, and Russia. Linguistically, Moldova is more similar to Romania. However, Russia’s status as an energy exporter subordinates Moldova to its influence. Moldova imports 98 percent of its energy, ranking it the ninth riskiest country in the world in terms of short-term energy security.
  6. Moldova’s system of governance has come a long way since independence from the USSR. Indeed, corruption still persists, but Moldova recently achieved a “partly free” rating from Freedom House International. Additionally, the country signed an Association Agreement with the EU, signifying a commitment to economic reforms in hopes of favorable trade deals with the bloc.
  7. Remarkably, the national poverty rate has dropped from 68 percent in 2000 to just 11.4 percent in 2014. These developments, coupled with an increase in tech startups and the potential for economic cooperation with the EU, bodes well for the country’s future.
  8. The education system in Moldova consists of a preschool, primary, secondary and higher education. Primary education is compulsory in Moldova. Primary school consists of grades one through four, and secondary school is divided into lower and upper education grades five through nine, and 10 through 12 respectively. With high school attendance rates, and a near 100 percent literacy rate, Moldova’s education system appears to be a very successful one.
  9. Pollution remains a concern in Moldova. Heavy industrialization during the Soviet regime resulted in improper disposal of waste. Moldova’s traditionally agrarian economy also results in groundwater pollution and fertilizer runoff into waterways.
  10. The country has a major public health issue. According to the Independent, Moldovans are the heaviest drinkers per capita in the world. The average Moldovan consumes 18.22 liters of pure alcohol per year, around three times the global average of 6.1. These rates of alcohol consumption likely contribute to the country’s relatively low life expectancy that are 67.4 years for males, and 75.4 for females.

Moldova is a country that finds itself in a dilemma between Russia and the European Union. This impacts the country’s economy and development. Due to this reason, young people are leaving the country in search of a better life and stable jobs. Government is recognizing this problem and has various initiatives that are intended for improving the living conditions in the country.

– Joseph Banish

Photo: Flickr

US Benefits from Foreign Aid to Moldova
The U.S. government has invested over 1 billion dollars in Moldova since 1992 through various foreign aid assistance programs. In times where many Americans think that the government should concentrate on domestic aid, it is important that they should be informed about how the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Moldova. So, how is the aid America invests in Moldova promoting American interest?

The Economic Benefits

Foreign aid is often characterized as an investment because it typically brings a return for the American people. This is especially true in the case of American businesses. In Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, the logic of foreign aid applies perfectly.

The stated goal of U.S. foreign aid to Moldova is to “target assistance at the country’s most promising economic sectors; which will help create economic opportunities that will raise incomes, promote job growth, and improve living standards.” By improving the economy and living standards, the foreign aid investments will then create a new market for American goods, demonstrating the mutual benefit for Moldova and the United States.

When the U.S. government provides aid for an impoverished country, the country’s economy improves, and typically so do the lives of its people. With this improved quality of life, citizens of the country are transformed from targets of charity to consumers with purchasing power. Instead of barely surviving, they become productive members of society, which results in new markets for U.S. companies. Not only does this create more potential customers for U.S. companies, but the increased demand for American made goods can create jobs in the U.S. to create these goods.

USAid in Moldova

USAID, America’s primary foreign aid agency, plays an important role in connecting American businesses directly with these new consumers in developing markets. USAID accomplishes this by encouraging American companies to partner with local people to help educate and support them on projects in local areas.

The result is the creation of a mutually beneficial relationship, whereby the target of the aid becomes self-reliant and also aligned with U.S. companies. In this way, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Moldova as well as Moldova itself.

Furthermore, the U.S. Embassy in Moldova implements programs such as The Cultural/English-Language Small Grants Program, to use education and cultural exchange to help foster mutual understanding between the United States and Moldova. It is the hope that this mutual understanding will lay the foundation for further economic, cultural, and political cooperation between the two countries.

National and International Security

Another common argument in favor of foreign aid is that this assistance helps stabilize vulnerable countries. This lowers the probability of future conflict and, as a result, keeps Americans safe. Syria is the most evident example of what can happen when a country becomes unstable. After the country experienced a drought in 2007, the resulting destabilization and actions by a repressive regime created the terrible crisis we see today.

This is the very reason that the U.S. foreign aid to Moldova targets economic growth in Moldova’s unstable agricultural industry as well as the consolidation of democratic institutions. If there were a slowdown in Moldova’s agricultural industry, which accounts for approximately 17 percent of its GDP, or a crackdown on democracy, the resulting destabilization could be problematic, especially given Moldova’s proximity to Russia.

Therefore, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Moldova by helping to minimize the risk of breakdowns in the critical areas of Moldovan society, which helps ensure stability, economic opportunity and pro-American sentiment in an otherwise vulnerable country.

– Taylor Pace

Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Moldova

Previously part of the Soviet Republic, Moldova continues to be one of Europe’s poorest countries. The nation is home to some 3.6 million people, yet women in Moldova face discrimination and inequality in nearly all aspects of life. The Moldovan government has made one of its goals to promote women empowerment and gender equality. Nevertheless, the possibilities for young girls are weakened by stubborn patriarchal mindsets. Although girls’ education in Moldova does not appear to be as discriminatory in practice, statistically, men and women go for more traditional gendered degrees.

Education

A result of a prolonged economic crisis, poverty and unemployment, the quality of education in Moldova is lacking. Many children of Moldova’s poorest families start school later and usually finish their education after primary school. With the number of students enrolled plummeting, schools in villages are at risk for shutting down. To combat this, the government of Moldova has made education a national priority, as it acknowledges the role that education has in strengthening society. To increase primary education completion, the government has increased access to pre-school services for children in rural areas. New teachers have been trained and an emphasis has been placed on early childhood development.

UNICEF reported that girls’ education in Moldova is equal to that of boys. Boys and girls face the same levels of access to education. If anything, girls are faring better in schools. UNICEF stated that girls were achieving slightly higher marks than boys in their classes. In 2005, the Education Policy and Data Center reported that both girls and boys in primary schools had equal levels of pupils not enrolled in school. The same report concluded that a larger portion of secondary male students did not attend school.

Gender Gap in Higher Education

The gender gap in education is especially small in secondary education and below. However, girls’ education in Moldova becomes segregated when women seek higher education. Women make up 51 percent of students in higher education. (No source found). Although there is a supposed equality in this schooling, women and men do not tend to study the same degrees. Instead, there are degree patterns that men and women take. A horizontal segregation appears, where female students tend to study social sciences and male students typically choose technical subjects.

A possibility for this sort-of gendered degree choice is the wish of their parents. In one instance, a Moldovan student was asked what she would like to study. Given her parents’ preference for a more feminine job, she said that she would likely finish her education in pedagogy because her mother preferred that she did that. Yet, she also had the desire to go to the police academy to disrupt gender norms.

Society imposed gender norms are likely the root of why there is this divide in studies between men and women. The Women’s Law Centre conducted research in 2015 that discovered that over 90 percent of men and more than 81 percent of women in Moldova believe that domestic chores should be the main responsibility of a woman. Men are expected to earn money, while women are expected to take a more traditional route.

The government of Moldova has increasingly found success in education reform. Girls and boys are offered and attain the same levels of education. At a higher education level, girls’ education in Moldova differs from that of their male colleagues.

– Stefanie Babb
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Agriculture in Moldova

Moldova, officially the Republic of Moldova, is a landlocked country surrounded by Romania and Ukraine in eastern Europe. Previously part of the Soviet Union, Moldova was then one of the richest countries in Europe. Nowadays, despite its progress in recent years, Moldova remains the poorest country in Europe.

Moldova is mainly an agricultural country, with about 75 percent of its land utilized for farming and agriculture. However, Moldova still suffers from food insecurity and an unstable economy. The economy in Moldova is thwarted by high government spending and low government integrity. Moldova is nearly completely reliant on agricultural exports to other countries.

Recently, Moldovans have introduced initiatives to create sustainable agriculture in Moldova and to enhance the competitiveness of the agro-food sector.

In 2012, the World Bank funded the Moldova Agriculture Competitiveness Project. The goal of this project is to enhance the competitiveness of the agro-food sector by modernizing food safety management, increasing market access for farmers and creating sustainable land management. This will increase Moldovan agricultural exports to other countries, which will lead to future economic growth. Moldova received over $20 million in funding from the World Bank for the project, including additional funding in 2015 and 2016. The project is set to close in 2019.

The Moldovan non-governmental organization EcoVisio was created in 2017. The aim of the organization is to increase awareness and education for sustainable development in Moldova, specifically in establishing sustainable agriculture in Moldova. The organization has a goal of education in the fields of organic agriculture and eco-construction. This will help create food security in Moldova.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has also implemented initiatives within Moldova. Since 2015, the United Nations has spent more than $1 million on creating and strengthening sustainable agriculture in Moldova. In accordance with the Technical Cooperation Program, the FAO has been working to strengthen the food safety system in Moldova. By growing safer and healthier food, Moldovans will be able to create better food security for their country.

Another way that the FAO is trying to create sustainable agriculture in Moldova is through pest control. In particular, the United Nations initiative focuses on integrated pest management, the disposal of obsolete and harmful pesticides and enabling other conditions specific to food safety.

Many of these initiatives have already started to help stabilize the economy. The GDP in 2016 was over $6 million, which, while still low, is slowly rising. Unemployment was also down to just over 4 percent in 2016.

Moldova still has a long way to go before it has a completely sustainable agriculture system. These programs and projects have created a great starting place and have laid the groundwork for Moldovans to build on for many years to come. By creating sustainable agriculture in Moldova, the Moldovan economy will have a better opportunity to stabilize and prosper further.

– Courtney Wallace

Photo: Flickr

After being occupied by the Soviet forces in 1940, the country of Moldova became independent approximately fifty years after the second world war. In 1992, Moldova was declared an independent republic. Even though the invasion took place over fifty decades ago, Moldova still suffers the consequences of the fall of the Soviet era today.

Out of all the Eurasian countries that were affected by the war, poverty-struck Moldova the hardest. The country was, in fact, in a better economic situation in 1991 than after its freedom. The now democratic country is one of the poorest on the European continent. Up to 34 percent of the population lives below the poverty rate.

Environmental issues are also affecting Moldova, thus leaving the country with unsuitable ground to cultivate on. The European country mostly relies on agriculture in order to create economic profit. But such activity contributes to a decline in the quality of land due to soil erosion.

The Polish government has taken a big step forward with the success of humanitarian aid to Moldova. With a contribution of PLN 1 million, or almost $300,000, the Polish government has helped the Moldovan population to lower the level of starvation during droughts and other environmental issues that greatly affect the agriculture sector.

These and many more related issues have increased the flow of humanitarian aid to Moldova. The independent humanitarian organization Help Moldova has been a pioneer in aiding the nation. Rebuilding hospitals, helping families living in poverty and providing medical attention to those in need are just some of the initiatives carried out by the organization.

Caritas Czech Republic is also one of the many NGOs assuring the success of humanitarian aid to Moldova. The organization has been helping Moldovan families for fifteen years. By providing job opportunities, agricultural machines to provide more profit and food and creating school opportunities for disadvantaged children, Caritas Czech Republic is leading Moldova into becoming a better country day by day.

While Moldova is in the process of rebuilding itself, it is still not part of the European Union. But help and humanitarian aid to Moldova from nonprofits and government organizations alike are building a better, more developed country. Moldova still has a long way to go to become a fully developed country in terms of economic and social aspects, but the success thus far has been and still is, undeniable.

– Paula Gibson

Photo: Flickr

The Need for Investment in Infrastructure in Moldova
Development of infrastructure in Moldova has progressed significantly since 1999 — a year in which the International Telecommunication Union reported that even the most basic telecommunications services were unavailable and the population was largely disconnected. Since this tumultuous time, Moldova’s national telecom, Moldtelecom, has upgraded to fiber-optic technology and a digital switch system through a $10 million investment from Denmark’s Great Northern Telegraph (GNT).

Telecommunications

Moldova’s telecommunications network has surpassed many western countries including Germany, Great Britain and even the United States (as far as in their internet connection). The company also installed land-lines and a consistent mobile service across the entire country; these measures are a stark contrast to 1997, when Moldtelecom had 15 lines per 100 people and practically no cell service with a rate of just 0.3 percent.

Improving infrastructure in Moldova requires greater focus on its road network, electricity and the procurement of investments for further development. Moldova’s railroads haven’t been upgraded since the Soviets built them; in fact, they haven’t been electrified, and thermal deformation during the summertime acts limited speed and load weight on the railroads.

Road Network

However, the road network in Moldova is of far greater concern. In 2006, only 7 percent of Moldova’s road network was proclaimed safe and of satisfactory quality. As the 21st century has progressed, Moldova’s winters have become warmer and wetter, leading to muddy and impassable roads. If these worsening weather conditions continue, Moldova’s rural communities will be cut off from the inner city areas of the country during the winter and rainy seasons.

Electricity

Moldova’s electrical supply is a key factor in improving the deficits in infrastructure in Moldova. Unfortunately, 61 percent of energy imports is gas and relies on Russia for much of this supply. Due to missed payments and bills stacking up, Moldova’s gas supply and their electricity are often cut off.

Investment

The main source of these failing aspects of infrastructure in Moldova comes to a simple lack of investments. The country doesn’t have the money or resources to spend on improving its infrastructure. As of November 2017, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has agreed to work with authorities on creating sustainable practices in infrastructure development in Moldova. They plan to support modernization of its roads and railways and encourage transparency in policy.

According to Dimitri Gvindadze, Head of the EBRD’s office in Chisinau, “The new strategy gives a fresh impetus to our engagement in Moldova. Combining financial investment with policy engagement, the EBRD is perfectly placed to make a real impact in Moldova. Our focus is on the establishment of a sound, transparent and modern financial sector that works for the people and the companies of Moldova.”

This response is promising for the future state of infrastructure in Moldova, and only time will tell if the improvement that has taken place in the country thus far will continue.

– Kayla Rafkin

Photo: Flickr

development projects in moldovaOnce considered one of the richest states in the former Soviet Union, Moldova is currently one of the poorest countries in Europe. The Moldovan economy heavily relies on agriculture. Development projects in Moldova mostly focus on fostering democratic governance and economic growth in the country, and poverty reduction is a primary goal for these projects.

Here are five ongoing development projects in Moldova.

  1. Moldova Competitiveness Project (MCP)
    Implemented by Chemonics International, Inc., MCP (2015-2020) aims to improve efficiency and competitiveness in Moldovan industries in order to support Moldova’s efforts to foster a strong, export-oriented economy. Some of the project’s goals include improving the quality of Moldovan products and services, increasing productivity and technical skills in the labor force and expanding market linkages. These goals are expected to increase incomes, reduce poverty and emigration and enable Moldova to compete within the E.U. and other high-value markets.
  2. Development Credit Authority (DCA)
    DCA (2011-2028) helps, “Moldovan financial institutions to increase financing for local small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) through a loan guarantee mechanism.” The main goal is to increase economic opportunities and improve the Moldovan private sector’s competitiveness. Additionally, it aims to improve Moldovan energy efficiency.
    Current DCA programs in the country include two guarantee facilities. One of them supports the Moldovan Information Technology (IT) sector in order to increase loans to IT firms for capital and long-term investments and support loans to IT professionals for mortgages, thereby improving quality of life and providing continued support to investments in the country.
    USAID Moldova and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) launched the second guarantee in 2014 to “support lending to the energy sector,” in order to improve Moldovan SMEs’ efficiency, thereby strengthening their “commercial viability and growth in an environmentally sustainable manner.”
  3. Moldova Sustainable Green Cities
    With a budget of $2.7 million, this project is set to run from 2017 to 2022 and catalyze investments in low carbon green urban development with an integrated urban planning approach. The project seeks to achieve its goal by encouraging innovation and participatory planning and partnerships with various public and private sector entities. The goal is to improve the quality of life and advance opportunities for sustainable economic growth in Moldova. Primarily, the project aims to establish a sustainable Green City Lab that would continue to operate after its closure.
  4. ICT Excellence Center (ICTEC) Project
    Under this 36-month project, USAID will launch and develop an ICT Excellence Center in Moldova in collaboration with the government and the private sector. Through this development project in Moldova, USAID aims to bring “significant new resources, ideas, software, technologies and development activities, such as training, practical assignments and mentoring programs” to the country. The project will support the setup and equipment needs, the creation of a relevant business plan, training of qualified staff and the expansion of educational and entrepreneurial development activities.
  5. Export-led Development of Organic Agriculture in Moldova
    Implemented by People in Need, this project builds on previous support for organic agriculture in Moldova. It specifically focuses on developing the local organic market and sustainable extension services, preparing Moldovan farmers to export products for the sustainable “advancement of the entire sector.”

Most of these development projects in Moldova aim to improve its presence within the E.U. and other competitive markets in order to enable the people of this nation to lift themselves to a higher quality of life. With similar continued investment in the Moldovan community, industry and infrastructure, there is hope that Moldova will be able to reach this goal.

– Mehruba Chowdhury

Photo: Flickr

women's empowerment in MoldovaIn the Eastern European country of Moldova, women have a very peculiar place in society. Men revere and admire women in their society, but many men also hold traditional views which say that women should be the caretakers and the nurturers of the household. These views can stagnate women’s empowerment in Moldova.

Domestic violence is also an issue. About 22 percent of women in Moldova claim that they have been abused at the hands of a partner. This number can increase as the parties get older, according to a report by Promundo Global.

Like many countries, Moldova strains against a predominantly patriarchal society. There are women who own businesses, but they have to struggle to find resources. Women are often unable to obtain loans and lack control of their capital. In this male-dominated political society, women are not favored.

Despite these circumstances, there is hope for women’s empowerment in Moldova. The country has pledged to encourage gender equality. The biggest commitment is the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Highlighting the state of women’s rights is the primary purpose of CEDAW.

Another way the country has promoted gender equality is via the Women in Politics initiative. This initiative “works to increase women’s participation in Moldova politics and decision-making,” according to U.N. Women. It also supports women in media.

While women in politics and media are important, a big focus of organizations such as the World Bank is women entrepreneurship. Women-owned businesses make up 25 percent of all businesses in Moldova.

There is evidence that shows that productivity is higher when a business is owned by a woman. This is important for Moldova’s economy, as female-owned businesses employ more people, specifically women.

Women can generally outperform men in Moldova if they are given the chance to do so. In order for women’s empowerment in Moldova to be progressive, the restrictions that limit women need to be removed. The programs that are already underway are providing many opportunities to make that goal a reality.

– Dezanii Lewis

Photo: Flickr