Albania's poverty levels in decline
Economic growth and reforms have spelled good news for Albania's poor, but the current global financial crisis poses a challenge.
By Manjola Hala for Southeast European Times in Tirana -- 25/05/09
The Albanian Institute of Statistics, the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme conducted the research. [Getty Images]
Poverty in Albania decreased significantly between 2002 and 2009, according to a new study. It found that the number of Albanians living below the poverty line shrank from 25.4% in 2002 to 12.4% in 2008.
The research was conducted by the Albanian Institute of Statistics, the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
There were around 800,000 poor people in 2002, but more than half of them -- 435,000 -- rose out of poverty by 2008, according to the study. Poverty has dropped dramatically in rural areas, and real consumption has been on the rise across the country, increasing 7% since 2005.
"Broad areas of Albania continue to witness declining poverty rates," a World Bank press release said. "The central areas have had the largest reduction in poverty rates since 2005."
Reasons for the positive trend include high GDP growth, economic reforms, expanded infrastructure and better governance, the study said.
Prime Minister Sali Berisha's centre-right administration claims credit. "Poverty reduction … shows the success of reforms undertaken by the government," Integration Minister Majlinda Bregu told a press conference.
Opposition parties, however, say the news is not all good. They point to disparities among various regions and populations.
"Regional income inequality for each family is high in Albania. Poverty in Lezha district reaches 31%, in Kukes 37% and Diber 41%, which are above the national average," said the Socialist Party's Ervin Bushati, referring to the country's three northern mountainous areas.
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Indeed, the study found that poverty reduction in mountainous areas has not kept up with the rest of the country.
"The data indicate a noticeable slowdown in the rate of poverty reduction in mountain areas, where the incidence continues to be the highest and which has seen little change since 2005," the World Bank said..