As of 2020, Albania was Europe’s fifth-poorest country. While gradually improving, poverty there can be complicated and confusing. If you sponsor a child, widow or disabled person in Albania, it’s normal to wonder, “Why does Albania struggle with poverty so much?”

From foreign shores, it might be difficult to understand the reasons for extreme poverty, but we want to attempt to address some of these difficult questions.

Albania Was Impacted by Communism

For almost half a century, Albania was under a totalitarian Communist government. Until 1991/1992, the Communist leaders in Albania dismantled upper-class landowners and many middle-class professionals, clergy and intellectuals. In many ways, this left the country at ground level.

Since then, the economic rebuild has seen many ups and downs. Many workers emigrated to nearby countries, leaving fewer laborers to reconstruct the country. The country continues to lack much infrastructure — especially roads, electricity and clean water — which was one of the biggest reasons it has been twice denied membership in the European Union.

Albania Struggles With Unemployment and Lack of Work

Albania has a high unemployment rate and an even higher underemployment rate. The COVID-19 pandemic made unemployment even worse.

Even when employed, Albanians living in poverty make between $2 and $5.50 USD each day. Over 80,000 Albanians rely on a government subsidy in order to get by each month.

Almost half of Albania’s employment comes from the agriculture industry, but only a small population owns land, and even fewer own modern farming equipment. Like poverty in Guatemala, during the off-seasons or in poor agricultural years, there’s often not enough work to go around. Many people leave the country in search of work, and oftentimes children have to quit school in order to work to help support their families. For some of the communities that we serve, their towns have factories that provide employment. However, the working conditions are poor and the compensation very little.

Albania Needs Hope

Many Albanians report a lack of hope for the future. With a history of quashed entrepreneurship by Communist leaders and current-day endemic corruption in local governments, a positive outlook for the future becomes extremely challenging. If Albanian students reach higher education, they often move to bigger cities, leaving concentrated poverty in the rural areas of the country.

Most importantly, Albania is primarily an atheistic nation. Of those practicing religion of any kind, less than 1% are Christians. Our mission at Living Water Adopt-A-Child is to bring true hope to these impoverished people. By taking care of their physical needs, we open the door to offer them the life-giving hope of Jesus Christ.

We are motivated by His love to help make lasting change for the poorest of the poor in our beloved Albania. To learn more about how you can join us in meeting the most desperate needs in Albania, visit our Ways to Give page.

Sources: CIA World Factbook, Global Hunger Index, The World Bank, The Borgen Project