Annual Report 2022
UNICEF Kosovo Programme
UNICEF continued its support to children and families in Kosovo1 in 2022, working to ensure that the rights of children are respected and that all children, adolescents and youth are healthy, protected, and included so they can reach their full potential.
With an average age of 26 years Kosovo has the youngest population in Europe. This “demographic dividend” is potentially a powerful accelerator of social and economic development. However, access to quality health, education and other social services remains limited for many children and youth, particularly the most vulnerable, resulting in poor outcomes for many children.
Nearly 23 per cent of children in Kosovo live in poverty, and 7 per cent live in extreme poverty. These children and their families were put under even more pressure in 2022, when they suffered from an inflation surge. Inflation increased to more than 14 per cent, with the price of bread and cereals, meat, dairy products and baby food particularly affected.
Despite a recent increase in the budget for primary health care, children’s health indicators in Kosovo remain among the worst in the region. The child mortality rate is four times higher than the EU average; and eight times higher than the EU average in Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities, where rates of immunisation are also low and access to clean water and sanitation is limited.
Most children in Kosovo are still not getting the right start to learning, with only 15 per cent of children aged 3-4 years attending early education programmes. Quality of education also remains a concern in both primary and secondary levels, with only 41 per cent of children aged 7–14 years demonstrating foundational reading skills and 42 percent demonstrating foundational numeracy skills. This proportion is even lower in the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities, at 18 percent and 13 percent respectively.
Children with disabilities suffer a from a lack of early identification and support by the health and education systems, as well as widespread exclusion from school: while 8 per cent of children have a functional difficulty in at least one domain, only 3,965 children with disabilities are attending primary education in the formal education system currently.
Low learning outcomes and limited skills continue to negatively impact school to work transitions for youth, with 31.7 per cent of those aged 15-24 not in employment, education or training in 2022.
UNICEF continued to support Kosovo institutions and civil society organizations in their efforts to address these important challenges facing children throughout 2022, as described in the report.
1 All references to Kosovo should be understood in the context of UNSCR 1244 (1999)