Hunger in Kosovo
In the aftermath of a civil war in the 1990s, Kosovo is riddled with hunger and poverty. Inadequacies in education, employment and healthcare all contribute to food insecurity and scarcity in Kosovo. Here is some information about poverty and hunger in Kosovo.


Kosovo is Europe’s youngest country, just inland of the Adriatic sea and is home to around 1.85 million people. Available poverty data from 2011 shows that almost one-third of the population (29.2%) lives on less than $2 per day and an additional 10% live in extreme poverty ($1.20 per day). Many households reported that aside from property, food was their most significant expense. Research indicates that in many low-income houses, as much as 40% of a household’s income went toward food.

In the 1990s, Kosovo suffered from a prolonged civil war and as a result, its economy is still recovering. Long term stability seems distant with high unemployment rates. As the USCIA reported, youth unemployment sits at 51.5% for males and 64.8% for females, making it the second-highest in the world at 55.4% (ages 15-24). Meanwhile, reports determined that the unemployment of the working-age group was 32.9%. Due to a lack of economic reforms and investments, these unemployment rates remain high and unwavering.

Protracted problems of environmental degradation, drought and biodiversity loss contribute to problems of food scarcity. Once an agriculturally sustainable area, droughts and infertility made land unfarmable. As a result, the country gradually has become less self-sufficient and is now heavily dependent upon imported goods.


Nutrition insecurity is widespread. In addition to lacking consistent access to food, it is even more difficult for people to find foods with adequate nutrition. Unsurprisingly,  obesity and anemia rates have risen due to a lack of consistent access to nutritious foods. The World Bank states that “[food] producers also face large losses on perishable and nutritious food as consumption patterns shift towards cheaper staples.” The loss of local nutritious foods further contributes to the problem of nutrition security and perpetuates health conditions like obesity and anemia.

Historically, chronic hunger as a result of poverty has characterized Kosovo. “In 1999 in Kosovo, 11,000 children older than 5 years were estimated to be acutely malnourished and about 17,000 would be affected by stunting. Over 5% of the surveyed mothers had a BMI below 18.5 and more than 10% were obese.” The same report stated that “58% of the children were anemic.” These statistics are significant obstacles to the country’s development.


While there have been considerable improvements in Kosovo’s development, there is still plenty of room to grow. Until Kosovo can reach a point of self-sufficiency, aid should go to those in need.

The good news is that there are several nonprofit organizations operating in Kosovo to help relieve some of the stressful effects of poverty on its citizens. One of these organizations is CARE International, which aims to promote peaceful resolution of conflict and stability in the country. Since its foundation in 1993, effective strategies have been petitioning to increase foreign aid, educating the public and encouraging volunteer work and fundraising for the most vulnerable communities in Kosovo.

Along with functioning nonprofit organizations, the U.N. has implemented a plan, the Stabilization Association Agreement (SAA), which establishes an official relationship between Kosovo and the E.U. Through this agreement, Kosovo has received more aid and is on a more sustainable path. “This agreement is a milestone for the E.U.-Kosovo relationship. It will help Kosovo make much-needed reforms and will create trade and investment opportunities.” The economic stability produced through this agreement will provide jobs and allow for progress within the country, eventually leading to more independent governance.

Allyson Reeder
Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in KosovoThe Republic of Kosovo is a disputed Southeastern European territory nestled in the Balkan Peninsula. Over the last two decades, the country has battled intense civil wars, horrific ethnic cleansings and a fight for freedom that finally culminated in its independence from Serbia (previously Yugoslavia) in 2008. In the early years of its autonomy, Kosovo’s poor economic conditions led the international community to brainstorm ways of how to help people in Kosovo.

As a result, Kosovo was under supervised independence by the International Steering Group until 2012. After 2012, the new country’s economy finally established some semblance of equilibrium. Kosovo held its own elections in 2013 and 2014 for the first time. Since then, their GDP has steadily been on the incline.

Although things are starting to look up for Kosovo, the country is still grappling to stabilize its workforce and job creation. In fact, 30 percent of the population still lives in poverty, 10 percent of which live off less than $1 per day. These discouraging numbers make sense considering the current growth model relies heavily on the remittance of citizens that fled during the war.

However, this strategy cannot be sustained over the long term, especially when the number of migrants leaving Kosovo for neighboring countries is still quite high. Thankfully, there are many charitable organizations and governmental efforts strategizing how to help people in Kosovo. Below are but a few that are doing spectacular things to bolster the Kosovo economy.

The Stabilization Association Agreement

The Stabilization Association Agreement (SAA) could perhaps be the single most influential document in Kosovo’s membership in the European Union. Negotiated in 2013 and 2014, the SAA was signed in 2015 and finally implemented the following year.

The agreement represents a new phase of Kosovo’s relationship with the E.U. and will pave the way for a more stable and prosperous Kosovo by implementing democratic principles and a variety of reforms set in accordance with E.U. standards. These restructurings will not only increase Kosovo’s wealth, but they will also bring the country closer to its goal of joining the European Union.

CARE International

Care International is a nonprofit organization that fights poverty around the world. They also have a specific focus on empowering women and girls. The organization has been working in the Balkans since 1993, providing humanitarian assistance during the worst of the conflict between the Serbs and Albanians. More recently, CARE has been initiating programs to build sustainable peace and development. These programs help to integrate minorities and youth into the job market, two of the largest unemployed groups in the county.

Anyone interested in learning how to help people in Kosovo through CARE need only visit their website, where the organization has a variety of strategies that the average person can act on today to join the fight against global poverty. These strategies include: signing petitions to help protect U.S. foreign aid; information on how to volunteer; and ways to raise money for the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

Established more than 90 years ago by businessman and philanthropist Charles Mott, the foundation’s original purpose was to address the growing economic problems facing Flint, Michigan. As the organization built traction, however, it expanded its efforts to include international initiatives, as well.

For the last several decades, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has been providing assistance to the western Balkans, including Kosovo, through its Civil Society program. In 2008, Mott provided Kosovo with a two-year $50,000 grant to the Kosovo Women’s Network in support of its efforts to ensure that women play an active role in Kosovo’s key political policies.

Although Kosovo is still struggling with high rates of unemployment and fluctuating markets, the nation has demonstrated economic expansion every year since establishing its statehood in 2008. It has been able to accomplish this in part through its constitutional rule of keeping public debt below unsustainable levels and maintaining competitively low corporate tax rates.

The admirable efforts of the governmental reforms and non-profit organizations listed above, and many others like them, also reveal powerful ways of how to help people in Kosovo. Hopefully in the coming years, the combination of these factors will thrust Kosovo into a time of much-deserved economic growth, leaving its painful recent history to fade.

Micaela Fischer

Photo: Flickr