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Hunger and starvation are a harsh reality for the Albanian people. The country, for many years, has had a significant portion of the population who are unable to feed themselves and their families. According to the Global Hunger Index, Albania is ranked 28th out of 117 countries struggling with hunger. The Global Hunger Index also gives Albania an overall score of seven. While a score of seven is not incredibly low, according to the Global Hunger Index, it could still be improved. In order to address the impacts of hunger in the country, multiple Albanian organizations are providing support to help their people. Here are three organizations working to positively impact hunger in Albania.

3 Organizations Making a Difference

  1. Nehemiah Gateway is working to reduce hunger in Albania. Nehemiah Gateway originally started in Albania but has expanded to help people in other countries as well. The organization provides not only food parcels, but also medical supplies and social care to people in need in Albania. It is currently running a fundraiser guided toward providing the necessary supplies to starving people in Albania. As of July 29, 2020, the organization has received more than $7,800 in donations out of a $9,000 goal. Nehemia Gateway is still accepting fundraiser donations.
  2. The Children’s Human Rights Center of Albania is another organization pursuing an end to hunger in Albania, especially with respect to youth in the country. Along with addressing hunger, the organization also represents the rights of children in other ways. The organization seeks to make sure the youth of Albania is educated, protected and participates politically within the country. In April of this year, The Children’s Human Rights Center of Albania made news when it made a plea to the European Commission, asking for relief efforts to help 100,000 children who are at risk of starvation. While the request for help has not yet been answered, the human rights center is still committed to fighting for the well being of Albania’s youth.
  3. Food Bank Albania is another organization that has been making extremely focused efforts to help those at risk of hunger. The food bank is based in Albania and its primary concern is making sure the people of the country are fed no matter the circumstances. Food Bank Albania gave an update on its activities during the recent earthquakes as well as during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The organization said that, since November of 2019, it has been able to provide people in need in Albania with about 223,000 kg of food. This is equivalent to about 500,000 meals. The organization is also confident that it can provide about 30 to 40 tons of fresh produce to people in need throughout the summer.

Hunger in Albania continues to be a major concern. The country is ranked 28th out of 117 countries struggling with hunger. As a result, a large portion of the population is still in need of help and further support. However, these three Albanian organizations have been resourceful in fighting to make sure that their people remain fed and provided for.

– Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Among Romanians in Albania
Albania, a country located east of the heel of Italy and bordering a chunk of the Adriatic Sea, receives millions of Euros each year. However, Albania invests next to nothing, if even that, in the ghettos where a majority of the Romani population live. The result is a continuous cycle of poverty among the Romani in Albania.

Estimates determine that Romani people migrated from Northern India to Eastern Europe in the 1400s. Upon arriving, Eastern Europeans discriminated against the Romani people due to their nomadic lifestyles. Romani people lived in tribes and worked as craftsmen. Being further developed when it came to technology, the Eastern Europeans used this to justify why they treated the Romani as “less than” or “untouchables.” In Albania, this treatment is still present today.

A Large Population

Although no one seems to have accurate data of how many Romani people live in Albania, the majority of sources seem to estimate somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000. Of this amount, 80 percent of the Romani in Albania have no job and live in extreme poverty. While this is a vast percentile, the Albanian government is still not fully addressing the issue of poverty among the Romani in Albania. For instance, the country’s social services such as welfare and economic aid make it difficult, sometimes impossible, for the Romani people to access them. Because most Romani people in Albania do not register at their local municipality, the government uses this to justify them as ineligible for the social services. However, the reason Romani in Albania do not register at their local municipality is due to the discrimination they face. This causes them to live on unclaimed land, move frequently and/or bear children at home rather than in a hospital.

Issues of Education

In Albania, 52 percent of the Romani population has no education. Of the other 48 percent who do attend school, 14 percent complete elementary school, three percent complete secondary school and four percent graduate from a college or university. Because of the lack of education, many Romani are not eligible to access employment which further contributes to their poverty.

Romani children tend to not attend school for the following reasons:

  1. They have to work to help their family survive because the average monthly income of Romani households is 68 Euros. The Romani people make less than half the monthly income of non-Romani households living in the same neighborhoods.
  2. Some schools refuse to register Romani children because they do not have birth certificates. This is despite the fact that it is the law in Albania to accept all Romani students into public schools whether they have a birth certificate or not.
  3. Romani parents choose to keep their kids home from school due to their claim that the teachers discriminate against their children because of their ethnicity.

Temporary Work

Because many Romani people in Albania are unable to find a stable source of income, they often resort to small, temporary jobs in different trades such as construction and agriculture, and most of these are low pay. While the government does provide economic aid to the unemployed, very few Romani benefit from this aid, and if they do, they do not receive it for as long as they need it. On top of all of this, Romani people are continuously denied their rights to adequate housing and lack of access to clean drinking water, and often experience ill-treatment from local police for no reason other than being of Romani descent.

The ERRC

In 1996, the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) emerged out of recognition of the discrimination Romani people face in multiple countries including Albania. It uses two methods to establish equal rights and opportunities for all Romani people:

  1. Strategic Litigation: In order to eliminate the discrimination against Romani people that prevents them from moving out of poverty, the ERRC fights whoever is implementing these discriminatory acts in court. It is able to do so in both domestic and international courts.
  2. Advocacy and Research: The ERRC believes that one of the best things anyone can do in order to help prevent poverty among Romanians in Albania as well as in other countries is to get the word out. One requires awareness and education of the issue in order for change to be possible.

An ERRC Victory

The ERRC completed its latest project in Albania on December 12, 2018. Due to discrimination, Romani citizens of Fushe Kruje, a city in Albania that has been home to a Romanian community since 1990, were suffering from lack of clean drinking water. While numerous Romani organizations took action to prevent this for the past 20 years, next to nothing has changed. The ERRC stepped in and went to court to fight the local municipality in Fushe Kruje for refusing to address the community’s limited access to clean water. The ERRC won the case, and the court declared that the local municipality would have to fix this issue within 30 days or receive a fine.

The ERRC envisions a world in which Romani people and non-Romani people in Albania are able to work together to challenge the racism that exists. By doing so, poverty among the Romani in Albania will end, thus, allowing them to receive access to proper education, steady employment, and ultimately, better healthier lives.

Emily Turner
Photo: Flickr

 

 

poverty-fighting poetry
Poetry can offer a vision of a more just and fair world, a world which often runs contrary to conventional and established socioeconomic norms. For centuries, poets have used their pens to dispel myths and misconceptions about the poor with poverty-fighting poetry. Especially in the camp of written works, representations of poverty have caused a rift between poetry and the well-circulated novels and plays of renown authors and playwrights. The cryptic undertones of poetry force us to internalize and think about the hardships associated with poverty, while many novels and plays simply use poverty as a setting, or a stage on which authors and playwrights can effectively deploy their storylines.

Poverty-Fighting Poetry

Today, young people are harnessing the power of poetry to emphasize the burdens of poverty and to champion for a better world. Poetry competitions not only serve as a forum to advocate for change but as a means of giving back to the world’s most vulnerable communities.

Poetry at Menstrual Hygiene Day

In the United Kingdom, the Women and Girls organization launched a poetry competition for Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28th) in which British youth were encouraged to write poems about period poverty. The goal of the organization and of the poetry competition is to expand access to sanitary protection and menstrual hygiene products for impoverished women in India. In many parts of South Asia, it is considered taboo to openly talk about menstruation and to even search for period products. This lack of understanding of the importance of female hygiene promotes the inability of women to care for themselves while on their periods, a plight commonly known as period poverty.

One of the judges of the competition, Perdita Cargill, thinks that poetry will help break down misunderstandings of menstruation and barriers to menstrual hygiene: “Let’s talk about periods and write poems about them and do whatever we can to help others get the fair access to sanitary protection they need for dignity and health.” Poverty-fighting poetry encompasses a breadth of struggles related to various forms of impoverishment, from period poverty to more common perceptions of poverty, such as economic inequality and hunger.

The Steps to Happiness Event

In Florence, Italy, the Lorenzo de’Medici school recently held The Steps to Happiness event where students wrote poems to inspire other young people to join Malala Yousafzai’s campaign to provide education for all. The winner of the competition, Katelin Pierce, captures the essence of expanding educational opportunities for young girls:

“These little girls may have little voices

but they have large hearts and many hands

and they grab all they can of letters and words and ideas

whispered to them in hushed tones.”

Hunger in the UK

Another poetry competition in the United Kingdom merged the Young Poets Network with End Hunger UK to address the crisis of food poverty in Britain. Statistics cited by the End Hunger organization claim that 1 in 4 parents with children aged 18 and under skip meals because they lack financial means; in fact, the United Kingdom falls only behind Albania as the second most food insecure country in Europe. The Young Poets Network and End Hunger UK teamed up to challenge British writers aged 11-25 to write about their personal experiences with food insecurity and to offer solutions to solve the food crisis. While poverty-fighting poetry enables young people to speak about their struggles with impoverishment, it also builds bridges of understanding and empathy.

These examples are all instances of poverty-fighting poetry that challenge traditional notions of which means can and cannot be used to address issues of global poverty. Innovative humanities-based approaches to poverty can accomplish something that more clinical and statist-based approaches cannot offer: understanding.

Grayson Cox
Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in AlbaniaAlbania is located in southern Europe, north of Greece. Albanians call themselves shqiptarë, which means “sons of eagles“. Albania gained independence in 1912 and was ruled as a monarchy between World War I and World War II. After WWII, it was a communist state, but new democratic parties developed after communist regimes failed.

25 years later, Albania gained candidate status in the EU after many attempts, but still faces challenges such as finding an economic niche and establishing rule of law. Despite this, water quality in Albania is one thing that has improved over the years.

A 2003 report from the World Bank stated that there was plenty of water available, but the water quality in Albania was compromised because of the poor conditions of its water infrastructure. The country lacked sufficient treatment facilities, the chemical suppliers were unreliable and the maintenance was unsatisfactory. The decaying supply and treatment facilities posed a major health threat and were believed to be a major contributing factor to infant mortality.

In 2015, the European Environment Agency reported that there have been significant measures taken to improve the water quality in Albania. Authorities have made efforts to reduce pollution, and between 2012 and 2015 the quality of bathing waters in Albania has improved significantly.

The Tirana Times reported in May that 86 percent of the bathing waters in Albania met the standards of the EU. In 2016 and 2017, Albanian authorities that reported 92 bathing waters were considered excellent or satisfactory, compared to 78 in 2015, which has helped attract more tourism.

Albania has many challenges to overcome, but the improvement of water quality in Albania is a step in the right direction. The increased tourism as a result of the improved water quality may also help stimulate the economy, which can help it more quickly overcome other obstacles.

Fernando Vazquez

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases In AlbaniaAlbania is a country located in Southeastern Europe bordering the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea. To the south it neighbors Greece and to the north, Kosovo. In 1912, the country declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire but was quickly conquered by Germany in 1943, and then ruled by the USSR until 1960.

After gaining total independence in the 1990s, the country has suffered from a continually depressed economy. This depressed economy has caused economic hardship in the region for many of its citizens. This article’s purpose is to elaborate on the most common diseases in Albania

1. Ischemic Heart Disease

The most common disease in Albania is Ischemic heart disease. Ischemia is an illness which causes blood flow restriction in a particular part of the body. Ischemic heart disease restricts blood flow to the heart and without proper health care, the disease can lead to stroke and heart disease if left untreated. When measured in 2015, 44 percent of deaths occurred as a result of untreated Ischemic Heart Disease.

2. Lung Cancer

Another of the most common disease in Albania is lung cancer. Around 64 percent of Albanian men smoke tobacco on a daily basis which is one of the leading causes of the illness. Some effects of lung cancer include continued coughing, weight loss, chest pain and difficulty swallowing. If the disease is left untreated, it has the potential to spread to other parts of the body. This spread has the potential to cause more severe health effects which can include death. About 39.7 percent of deaths in 2015 were caused by lung cancer.

3. Chronic Kidney Disease

When measured in 2015, about 29 percent of deaths occurred from Chronic Kidney Disease. This condition describes the gradual loss of kidney function and can be extremely dangerous due to the kidney’s important role in the body. On top of filtering the waste of the body, the kidneys also filter blood. Without properly functioning kidneys, dangerous levels of fluid, electrolytes and waste can build up in the body and cause premature death.

Improvements

The most common diseases in Albania take numerous lives every year, and the government is doing all it can to combat this phenomenon. The Albanian government established the WHO country office on top of increasing its funding of public health care. WHO has promoted education to the country’s citizens to help them avoid contracting these disease, and this work by WHO, alongside an increase in the government’s spending on health care, is sure to help reduce the number of deaths caused by the most common diseases in Albania.

Nick Beauchamp

Photo: Google

Poverty Rate in AlbaniaAlbania is a country located on the Balkan Peninsula with a large coastline facing the Adriatic Sea. The country has a Muslim majority due to the continued influence of the Ottoman Empire, which controlled the country for centuries. After World War II, Albania became a communist state. It was only in 1990 that the country became a democratic country. Although this shift was beneficial for human rights in the country, the dramatic change has negatively impacted the poverty rate in Albania.

When Albania shifted from a communist country to a democratic one, the GDP of the country saw a sharp decline. Between the years 1990 and 1992, the country’s GDP dropped from $2.1 billion to $709 million. In recent years, the GDP has been growing at around three percent per year, and, in 2013, the GDP growth was measured to be 3.5 percent.

This dramatic shift in GDP caused many living in the country during the communist rule to leave the country for more prosperous European states. The dramatic change in GDP also caused the poverty rate in Albania to increase.

The last time the incidence of poverty had been measured was in 2012, and at that time 14.3 percent of the population was living under conditions of extreme poverty. This change was a vast improvement to the 25.4 percent of people living in poverty in 2002. However, Albania has seen a recent increase in its poverty rate at the beginning of the 2010s. Many of these people tend to live in the mountainous regions, where economic investment does not make sense to many businesses.

Many who explore the country see the nation’s beautiful scenery and natural beauty. However, many people visiting fail to see the hidden poverty in the nation. Many citizens who live in the mountainous regions of the country struggle to put food on their tables every day and the towns they live in lack thriving businesses to create economic activity.

There is hope for the people struggling with the high poverty rate in Albania, despite its recent increases. World Vision is a nongovernmental organization working within the nation to help the most vulnerable of people in Albania. The organization strives to provide sponsorship opportunities, educational outlets, healthcare and economic development in the towns most affected by the shift to a democratically led government. This work done by World Vision, as well as the rising GDP in Albania, is likely to help keep the poverty rate in Albania from rising any further.

Nick Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr


Non-communicable diseases are the top diseases in Albania. Overall, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and respiratory diseases are the three deadliest. The annual mortality rate of cardiovascular diseases is 54.3 percent. For cancer, the annual mortality rate is 17.7 percent and for respiratory diseases, the mortality rate falls just below six percent.

Cardiovascular Diseases
The top diseases in Albania consist of various cardiovascular diseases. They are the deadliest of all non-communicable diseases. In 2013, the three deadliest cardiovascular diseases were strokes, ischemic heart disease and other cardiovascular and circulatory diseases.

These common yet deadly diseases made up 94.1 percent of all deaths cause from cardiovascular diseases in Albania. In fact, strokes were fatal to 197.5 people out of every 100,000. Unfortunately, since 1990, its mortality rate has increased by 124 percent. At the same time, ischemic heart disease killed another 172.7 per 100,000. Since 1990, the mortality rate for ischemic heart disease has increased by 170 percent.

Slightly more than 23 out of every 100,000 persons were killed by other cardiovascular and circulatory diseases.

Cancer
Cancer is the second-deadliest of all non-communicable diseases. In 2013, the most common forms included cancer of the stomach, liver, trachea, bronchus and lungs. These made up 49.2 percent of all deaths caused by cancer. The mortality rate has also increased.

As a matter of fact, stomach cancer killed 16.6 per 100,000 and its mortality rate has increased by 49 percent since 1990. Moreover, liver cancer killed 16.2 per 100,000 and its mortality rate has increased by 101 percent.

Combined, tracheal, bronchial and lung cancer killed 34.2 people out of every 100,000. Since 1990, its mortality rate has increased by 111 percent.

Chronic Respiratory Diseases
The third-deadliest non-communicable diseases are respiratory. In 2013, the most deadly chronic respiratory diseases were obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and interstitial lung disease and pulmonary sarcoidosis. These made up 93.5 percent of deaths which result from chronic respiratory diseases.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), killed 31.3 people out of every 100,000. COPD’s mortality rate has grown by 49 percent since 1990.

Asthma killed another 7.8 per 100,000. Its mortality rate has sadly increased by 56 percent. Interstitial lung disease and pulmonary sarcoidosis killed 3.3 persons out of 100,000. In addition, its mortality rate has increased by 70 percent.

Fortunately, healthcare in Albania is provided to everyone. However, the government is having a hard time meeting the needs of all citizens. As a result, the World Bank is working on the health system improvement project, in order to improve the country’s health system. Hopefully, this will help alleviate the top diseases in Albania.

Solansh Moya

Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Albanian RefugeesThe Albanian exodus has been the largest emigration movement in Europe since the population movements after World War II. It had been caused by the collapse of the communist regime in 1991 and the following economic crisis. Here are 10 facts about Albanian refugees.

7 Facts About Albanian Refugees

  1. The first wave of immigration occurred in 1991 when 20,000 Albanians squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder head to Italy on the cargo ship La Vlora.
  2. More Albanian refugees live outside of Albania than within. Countries like Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and the United States all have Albanian diasporas.
  3. About $500 million was sent home by Albanian refugees in 1996 from these countries, supporting the survival of the people remaining in Albania and the development of the private sector.
  4. Albania’s population is approximately three million, and about 10 million Albanians are living outside of the country.
  5. Roughly 600,000 Albanian refugees work in Greece.
  6. About 480,000 ethnic Albanian refugees entered into Albania in 1999 because of the war in neighboring Kosovo. This influx strained the country’s resources.
  7. The unemployment rate is incredibly high in Albania, where a small and overcrowded job market doesn’t allow new businesses to emerge.

However, things are changing for the better in Albania, and the future is bright for the nation. While the country is still struggling with outcomes of the refugee crises of the early ’90s, the Albanian government considers tourism as a key strategic economic sector, touting its potential to act as a catalyst for the development of the rest of the country.

Yana Emets

Photo: Flickr

Education in Albania
Education in Albania is a work in progress. In the past decade, Albania has partnered with UNICEF and the World Bank in order to ensure higher quality education, efficient education spending and more accessible schooling.

After the fall of communism in Albania in 1990, a reorganization plan was announced regarding education in Albania. The government wanted to expand compulsory education and revamp curriculums. However, Albania faced economic and social problems in the following years that would make the occurrence of educational difficult.

Despite these challenges, education in Albania is slowly improving. According to UNICEF, between 2002 and 2008 the percentage of Albanians living below the poverty line dropped from 25.4 percent to 12.4 percent.

The Albanian government has put in an effort to improve its education system and increase schooling access. In 2008, Albania increased its compulsory schooling to nine years. Additionally, Albania increased teachers’ salaries by 14 percent and the Ministry of Education, partnering with UNICEF, launched a program that would provide child-friendly school frameworks.

Albania, which currently has a net primary school enrollment ratio of around 94 percent, is well on its way to achieving universal primary school enrollment. As of 2010, Albania’s primary and pre-primary enrollment rates stood above the Central and Eastern European average. According to the World Bank, however, education in Albania still needs improvement.

Experts believe that Albania needs to work on efficient education spending while also increasing the overall quality of schools. The World Bank has praised education in Albania for focusing more on pre-primary education in contrast to other countries in the region, however, disparities still persist, especially for low-income groups.

For example, UNICEF found that about 74 percent of families living in poverty are unable to afford school books, making education accessibility difficult for those living in poor conditions.

Prime Minister Edi Rama agrees with the World Bank and UNICEF, stating, “We are working in very close cooperation with the World Bank, other international institutions, and EU, within the framework of the Western Balkans Initiative, to include education sector in their programs, so that we can ensure increased financing for education.”

With the help of organizations like the World Bank and UNICEF, education in Albania will undergo positive changes, which will ultimately strengthen Albania’s global product and service markets.

Morgan Leahy

Photo: Flickr

Kosovo War
The Kosovo War was a quick and highly destructive conflict that displaced 90 percent of the population. The severity of the unrest in Kosovo and the involvement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) brought the Kosovo conflict to international attention in the late 1990’s. The conflict led to the displacement of thousands and lasting tension between Serbs and Albanians. The brutality of the war is largely credited with launching The Borgen Project, a humanitarian organization that has helped hundreds of thousands of people.

10 Facts about the Kosovo War

    1. The Kosovo War was waged in the Serbian province of Kosovo from 1998 to 1999. Ethnic Albanians living in Kosovo faced the pressure of Serbs fighting for control of the region. Albanians also opposed the government of Yugoslavia, which was made up of modern day Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia and Macedonia.
    2. Muslim Albanians were the ethnic majority in Kosovo. The president of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, refused to recognize the rights of the majority because Kosovo was an area sacred to the Serbs. He planned to replace Albanian language and culture with Serbian institutions.
    3. The international community failed to address the escalation of tension between the Albanians and the Serbs. In doing so, they inadvertently supported radicals in the region. Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo formed the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the early 1990s. The militant group began attacks on Serbian police and politicians and were engaged in an all-out uprising by 1998.
    4. Serbian and Yugoslav forces tried to fight growing KLA support through oppressive tactics and violence. The government destroyed villages and forced people to leave their homes. They massacred entire villages. Many people fled their homes.
    5. As the conflict grew worse, international intervention rose. The Contact Group (consisting of the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Russia) demanded a cease-fire, the withdrawal of Yugoslav and Serbian forces from Kosovo and the return of refugees. Yugoslavia at first agreed but ultimately failed to implement the terms of the agreement.
    6. Yugoslav and Serbian forces engaged in an ethnic cleansing campaign throughout the duration of the war. By the end of May 1999, 1.5 million people had fled their homes. At the time, that constituted approximately 90 percent of Kosovo’s population.
    7. Diplomatic negotiations between Kosovar and Serbian delegations began in France in 1999, but Serbian officials refused to cooperate. In response, NATO began a campaign of airstrikes against Serbian targets, focusing mainly on destroying Serbian government buildings and infrastructure. The bombings caused further flows of refugees into neighboring countries and the deaths of several civilians.
    8. In June 1999, NATO and Yugoslavia signed a peace accord to end the Kosovo War. The Yugoslav government agreed to troop withdrawal and the return of almost one million ethnic Albanians and half a million general displaced persons. Unfortunately, tensions between Albanians and Serbs continued into the 21st century. Anti-Serb riots broke out in March 2004 throughout the Kosovo region. Twenty people were killed and over 4,000 Serbs and other minorities were displaced.
    9. In February 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. Subsequently, Yugoslavia ceased to exist in 2003 and became the individual countries of Serbia and Montenegro. Serbia, along with numerous other countries, refused to recognize Kosovo’s independence.
    10. At the end of 2016, a tribunal was established in the International Criminal Court to try Kosovars for committing war crimes against ethnic minorities and political opponents. Additionally, an EU taskforce set up in 2011 found evidence that members of the KLA committed these crimes after the war ended. Previously, the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia tried several the KLA members.


Overall, the Kosovo War was one of Europe’s most chaotic conflicts, leaving lasting impressions on all those living in the region. Not only has the conflict been coined with the terms genocide and crimes against humanity, but the involvement and bombings from NATO also caused widespread controversy.

Lindsay Harris

Photo: Flickr