The current socio-economic situation in Kosovo
The political landscape in Kosovo was marked by substantial changes with long-term implications and uncertain environment over the last two years. On 17th February 2008, the Assembly of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on the basis of the Athissari Plan (which was not adopted by UNSC). The Kosovo Assembly passed the Constitution of Kosovo, which formally entered into force on 15th June 2008.
On 11th July 2008 the Kosovo donors conference was held, which pledged 1.236 billion euros of aid in support to Kosovo’s development. However, the actual commitment of the funds was affected by the impact of the global financial crisis on donor countries’ budgets and the government’s poor planning mechanisms and low absorption capacity.
Average real GDP growth was around 1.5% in the five years between 2002 and 2007. This slow exapansion is due to a combination of low investments and the ongoing withdrawal of the international community. Unemployment is at 46% (26% of men and 67% of women) - four times higher than that of EU average - with youth twice as likely as adults to be unemployed, alarming data, especially considering that youth (under 25 years) account for 53% of the population. This is not only a serious impediment to economic development, but a long-term risk to social stability and security.
World Bank assessments show that there has been no reduction of poverty in the last five years. An estimated 45% of people still live in poverty and above 16% in extreme poverty. Children are disproportionately affected with over 100,000 children under 14 living on less than one euro per day, many of whom are engaged in child labour. Kosovo authorities do provide cash assistance to eliminate extreme poverty, but the current scheme excludes approximately two thirds of the poorest (lowest income quintile).
Progress at the policy and legislative levels was substantial. However it is hampered by incoherence and very poor implementation due to weak governance capacities and lack of financial resources. Some positive developments were nevertheless seen in 2009, with further progress on the inclusion of child’s rights into governmental action, in particular the adoption of the Strategy and Action Plan on Children’s Rights, the appointment for the first time of a Kosovan Ombudsperson by the Kosovo Assembly. Another welcome development is the government’s announcement to take preparatory steps towards reporting on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. A positive development with regard to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was the Kosovo Assembly’s official endorsement of the Millennium Declaration and MDGs on 18th October 2008.
Key demographic data
The population in Kosovo is estimated at around 2 million. 92% are Kosovo Albanian, 5.3% Kosovo Serb and other ethnic groups 2.7%. The estimated number of children from 0 to 5 is 250,000. The Kosovo population is relatively young, with estimated half of its population (around 900,000) being under 18. Kosovo is mainly rural with 63% living in villages and 37% in urban settings. Male life expectancy is estimated at 67 years and female life expectancy at 69 years.