Causes of Rural Poverty in Albania
Southeastern Europe is one of the most beautiful regions in the world. Being a region that has vast amounts of untouched nature, beautiful views and fantastic hiking trails are commonplace in this region. This region is where the small republic of Albania resides.

Although the nation is known as one of the poorest countries in Europe, even more worrisome is that Albania has a huge issue with poverty in some of its rural districts.

This article’s purpose is to indicate some of the causes of poverty in rural Albania and what is currently being done by the government and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to deal with this issue.

Moving From A Controlled Economy To A Free Market

One of the causes of rural poverty in Albania stems from its transition from a controlled economy to a free market. This shift took place after gaining independence from the Ottoman empire in 1912. The effects of this change have mostly been felt by the country’s most impoverished people.

Even though the country’s economy has seen massive growth in the past two decades, about 7.5% of the citizens in Albania live under conditions of extreme poverty. The poorest in Albania tend to live in the most rural of regions, particularly the mountainous areas of the country which are almost impossible to grow food in. The lack of an ability to grow food is one of the causes of poverty in rural Albania.

Farming is one of the primary sources of income for this group of people and due to the cities being much more expensive to live in for citizens without a high skill occupation, many have to make ends meet by farming in mountains where small amounts of crops can get yielded from the soil. These two issues in tandem contribute to 19% of children having their growth stunted and 7% of the infants being born with a low birth weight in the country. Thus, citizens having a difficult time attaining a job and children dealing with malnutrition both contribute to the causes of rural poverty in Albania.

Scarcity Of Market Information

Another factor contributing to the causes of rural poverty in Albania relates back to the lack of market information for the farmers in the country’s rural regions. Albania struggles with having a strong enough government to ensure food-handling hygiene and safety standards for the food it produces. This fact makes citizens of the country hesitate from buying food from unregulated farmers in the mountains and only buying food from government-backed companies.

Recently, farmers in the region have asserted that the government should re-establish control of the food distribution, allowing their products to get reintroduced to the market. However, this is a solution that is not possible due to the mass amounts of the public being against the re-establishment of communism into the country.

The Solution

As outlined by the two above problems, the causes of rural poverty in Albania are mainly economic. If the citizens living in rural regions obtained access to better sections of land to grow crops on and understood the implications of trying to compete with established companies, they would have a fighting chance in the emerging Albanian economy.

Thus, the solution to this issue is having the farmers understand the benefits of collaboration and create avenues for small family farms to partner up to create larger organizations, which would have the ability to compete with the established companies and gain a reputation for being compliant with government regulations. Once the rural, family-owned farms joined to create a larger organization, they would have the economic ability to buy high-quality plots of land to grow their food.

The economy of Albania has been on the rise ever since the country gained its independence, even though it still struggles with poverty in its most rural areas. Although the public understands the causes of poverty in rural Albania, the solutions above need to be implemented to allow real change to occur in the region. Once farmers know that partnering up will benefit them, they will have a real shot at competing with the established companies in the area and would thus gain a good reputation for their products. These factors in tandem would allow for the rural regions of Albania to escape the cycle of poverty and catch up with the rest of the country’s economy.

Nick Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr