NGOs in KosovoA country still coping with the repercussions of conflict and economic hardships, Kosovo continues to experience a rise in food poverty. Hence, to address this issue, NGOs in Kosovo including Rahma (Mercy) and Mohanji Act Foundation, continue acting in response to the food insecurity issues affecting residents. These NGOs are implementing innovative strategies and collaborating to ensure that everyone can access nutritious meals.


Between 1998 and 1999, Kosovo went through a devastating war that resulted in the expulsion of approximately 800,000 Kosovans. However, the successful signing of the Peace Agreement enabled 90% of Albanians to return, bringing the overall population to an estimated 1,600,000. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has coordinated with around 200 humanitarian organizations to assist in rebuilding through the provision of aid, including food, medical care, shelter, water and sanitation.

Rahma Mercy

Established in 1999, the Rahma (Mercy) is an NGO that prides itself in providing assistance to alleviate suffering within the Balkan region. Supporting countries like Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, North Macedonia and Kosovo, the Rahma (Mercy) NGO aims to mobilize resources and people to offer affected communities emergency help, including food, water, shelter and medical care.

Generating an income of around £2.83 million in 2022, Rahma (Mercy) aims to help alleviate the effect of food poverty in Kosovo by offering grants to individuals or other organizations; providing finances or services; advocating for human rights. Its efforts have been important in helping to save lives and provide crucial aid.

While relieving food poverty is a concern, Rahma (Mercy) further prides itself on implementing projects targeted toward encouraging sustainable change, through investing in education, housing and health care.

Like many other NGOs, Rahma (Mercy) relies on the kindness and generosity of both donors and volunteers. Its dedication to transparency and accountability is evident in its open disclosure of financial information.

Mohanji Act Foundation

The Mohanji Foundation has a primary goal of reducing suffering among populations. The foundation aims to prevent and relieve poverty, through overseas aid and famine relief projects. Operating in Kosovo among many other countries like Ukraine and Sri Lanka, it achieves this by mobilizing resources such as food and water, providing services and making grants to organizations.

Additionally, it aids the homeless through their food donation programs. Its global platform, ACT4Hunger, is inspired by Mohanji and is used to facilitate food donations.

Looking Ahead

Though NGOs encounter various obstacles in providing aid, the relief efforts in Kosovo to tackle food poverty, have demonstrated the possibility of effective collaboration between local partners and the community. These organizations strive to promote sustainable change and also engage with policymakers to address the underlying causes of food poverty.

– Erdona Sopa
Photo: Unsplash

Facts About Poverty in KosovoSituated in the Balkans, Kosovo, officially known as the Republic of Kosovo, declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. However, only 110 U.N. member states acknowledge its status as a sovereign state. Notably, Serbia, Kosovo’s chief opponent, does not recognize its independence and considers it part of Serbia. Furthermore, Serbia’s international allies, including Russia, hamper Kosovo’s bid for EU membership due to the lack of recognition. The combination of limited international security and economic instability has prompted Kosovo’s application for EU membership. The following are seven facts about poverty in Kosovo and why EU membership is so controversial for the country.

7 Facts about Poverty in Kosovo

  1. High poverty rates: Around 40% of the population of Kosovo live below the poverty line, and 17% live in extreme poverty (living on less than $3.20 a day), as defined by the BTI Project. Poverty is widespread, especially in rural areas. The country’s poverty rate is notably higher than its closest neighbor, EU member Bulgaria. 
  2. High unemployment rates: Unemployment in Kosovo was 24.6% in 2020. The BTI Project reports that youth unemployment is exceptionally high at around 50%. This is, in part, because the country is not a great exporter and its workforce has a very high percentage of low-skilled workers. As with poverty rates in the country, unemployment is far worse in rural areas. In the EU, unemployment only averages 6% and youth unemployment is 14.5% in 2023.
  3. Low social safety net: Kosovo has a minimal social safety net, with no real unemployment benefits, maternity allowance or child benefits. The country only spends around 3.6% of its GDP on health care and social security. In comparison, the EU has an average of 20.5%.
  4. Corruption problems: Office abuse, especially corruption, remains widespread despite political leaders’ promise to fight it. The Kosovo Anti-Corruption Agency fails to convict members of the political class, and this undermines Kosovan institutions and the state.
  5. Remittance-dependent economy: Kosovo’s economy is significantly dependent on remittances from the diaspora of Kosovans worldwide. When the pandemic hit and much of the diaspora funding dried up, what followed was a noticeable uptick in Kosovan poverty indicators.
  6. Low minimum wage: The Kosovan minimum wage is one of the lowest in Europe. The minimum wage is just €250 net per month. For comparison, the U.K. minimum wage for adults is £10.42. This minimum wage has been a significant part of why many working-class people in the country are in poverty.
  7. Slow economic growth: Kosovo’s economy is growing, but the progress has been slow. The nation’s economy has been growing steadily since it declared independence from Serbia in 2008, with Real GDP increasing by 3.5% in 2022. On the bright side, this has aided poverty reduction.

NGO Efforts

There are NGOs working in Kosovo to help improve these poverty metrics. One example is Caritas, a Catholic humanitarian organization that provides various services to vulnerable groups, including the poor, elderly and children. The organization’s programs focus on education, health, social protection and emergency assistance. Originally becoming active in Kosovo in 1992 to help tackle one of Europe’s highest poverty rates, Caritas continued its commitment and now employs more than 600 people in the country.

Another NGO working in Kosovo is the Kosovar Gender Studies Center (KGSC). The KGSC’s work includes advocacy for gender-responsive policies, training and education on gender-related issues, and awareness-raising campaigns. KGSC collaborates with government institutions, civil society organizations and international partners to advance gender equality in Kosovo. Through its activities, KCGS aims to improve the status of women and girls, combat gender-based violence, increase women’s political participation and promote women’s economic empowerment. The KGSC advocates for paid maternity leave and increased child support, often providing those facilities themselves.

Looking Ahead

Despite the significant challenges Kosovo faces regarding poverty and economic instability, there are organizations like Caritas working tirelessly to make a positive impact. Its dedication, alongside other NGOs, offers a glimmer of hope for the future and the potential for positive change in the lives of those affected by poverty in Kosovo.

– John Cordner
Photo: Pixabay

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Kosovo
The Kosovo War in the late 1990’s destroyed much of country’s agricultural sector and infrastructure, and a large portion of the working population was crippled by war consequences. Currently, Kosovo’s total population is about two million. The scars of the war can still be seen in its high poverty rate and human development index (HDI) score compared to its neighbors. Here is the list of the top 10 facts about poverty in Kosovo.

  1. Kosovo’s GDP per capita or Gross Domestic Product (the number that gives an estimation of individual-based economic health) tripled from 2000 to 2017 and is currently at $3,902. However, Kosovo is still the third-poorest country in Europe.
  2. In 2015, approximately 17 percent of the population was living below the poverty line of $2.11 a day, and about five percent of the population was living below the extreme poverty line of $1.51 a day.
  3. UNICEF, based on 2006-2007 data, found that families in Kosovo with children were less likely to be poor than families without children. However, this research also concluded that children aged 0-19 were more likely to be at risk of poverty than the general population.
  4. Kosovo is rich in lignite (a type of coal) and many other natural resources, but the population’s energy needs exceed the production of the country’s two power plants. Less than 0.8 kW (kilowatts) is generated per person, which is under half of that in Slovenia and under a quarter of that in Austria.
  5. From December 2014 to February 2015, the number of migrants seeking asylum from Kosovo to the EU had grown by 40 percent.
  6. Economic growth in Kosovo is projected at between two to four percent for the period from 2018 to 2020. It has held a steady rate of growth since the 2008 global recession.
  7. Nearly two decades after the Kosovo War, ethnic tensions began to ramp up again. Local politicians are taking advantage of fear from potential conflicts and are using nationalist slogans for their political campaigns.
  8. Foreign aid and remittances from countries such as the United States, France, and others reached more than 700 million dollars in 2017, reducing poverty and trade deficits in Kosovo, according to the country’s Central Bank.
  9. Self-employment is widely recognized as one of the solutions to poverty in Kosovo, but conducted surveys show that the low investment capital and limited access to loans keep most of the people away from starting a business.
  10. Kosovo’s transportation infrastructure is very weak, with undeveloped networks of railways and motorways. It lags behind the EU average as well as other Balkan states, such as Macedonia and Albania.

Silver lining

Despite many domestic challenges Kosovo faces regarding the economy and its infrastructure, the country is back on track in economic growth and self-sustainability. Country’s quality of life has steadily improved, while poverty has decreased over the last two decades and this can be attributed to international aid and domestic policy reform.

If Kosovo can continue to maintain its growth rate and effectively integrate foreign aid and advising into both its public and private sectors, in addition to addressing its social issues, the country can expect a brighter future for its citizens in the upcoming decades.

Alex Qi

Photo: Flickr

Since the end of the war in 1999, the Republic of Kosovo has experienced consistent economic growth. Now a lower-middle-income country, it is one of only four countries in Europe that recorded positive growth rates during the economic crisis between 2008-2012, averaging about 4.5% each year. Despite its rapid growth, Kosovo continues to struggle with high rates of poverty and unemployment.

Joblessness is estimated to be at about 40% and remains a central economic-policy challenge. Youth and women are disproportionately affected by the difficult labor market conditions, creating an environment that undermines the country’s social fabric. Kosovo is one of the poorest countries in Europe with a per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) of about €2,700 and about one-third of the population living below the poverty line and approximately one-eighth living in extreme poverty.

Recent studies by UNICEF Kosovo showed that children are at higher risk of living in poverty in Kosovo compared to the general population. The greatest risk of poverty is for children who live in households with three or more children, children between 0 and 14 years of age, children of unemployed parents, children in households receiving social assistance, and children with low levels of education. Whereas, the risk of poverty is much lower for children in a household with at least one employed parent.

The European Union is mainstreaming an effort to fight child poverty by  recognizing the multi-dimensional nature of the issue. Child poverty and exclusion have high social and individual costs. Children in poverty are at high risks of low educational attainment, poor health, and an inability to find work later in life. Investing in children, therefore, is important not only for the well being of current children living in poverty, but also for the health, productivity, and engagement of future adult citizens.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008, however only 98 of a total 193 UN member states have recognized Kosovo’s independence. The lack of agreement remains a central obstacle to achieving the country’s goals for political integration and socio-economic development.

To help reverse joblessness and build a long-term economic growth plan, the World Bank, along with ten other donors, recently awarded Kosove 61 million Euros, mostly in the form of grant money. The Sustainable Employment Development Policy Program (SEDPP) funds were disbursed from the end of 2011 to the middle of 2012. The funds have supported reforms and improved transparency throughout many sectors in the country.

– Ali Warlich

Sources: World Bank, UNICEF, World Bank
Photo: SOS Children’s Villages