Albania Sustainability Issues

The critical environmental and sustainability issues of Albania:

  1. Water 

Demographic changes have led to overcrowding of cities and suburban areas, leading to increased discharges of urban and industrial sewage and increased levels of pollution in surface waters, especially in big coastal cities with a high population density, where socio-economic activities are more intense in comparison with the rest of the country.

Surface water pollution is a key issue. Drinking water supply and sanitation services are provided at less than production cost in most parts of Albania. While this makes them affordable, they are neither technically or economically sustainable. Almost 81 percent of households in 57 municipalities receive drinking water and sewage services, while in rural areas, this indicator is at only one-half of all households. Although roughly 50 percent of domestic wastewater is collected in existing sewage networks, most is discharged untreated, into surface waters. Seven wastewater treatment plants are currently in operation, but these treat only about ten percent of the total amount of wastewater generated in Albania.


  1. Corruption

The Corruption Perception Index in Albania for 2019 remained low, with 35 out of 100 points, indicating a high level of corruption. It is ranked 106/180 of the least corrupt countries in the world.


  1. Unemployment

With an employment rate of just 50 percent, the Albanian economy is unable to create sufficient jobs for the population. The Labour Force Survey 2015 indicates that the unemployment rate is at 17.3 percent (17.7% for men and 16.8% for women). The same source of information reveals that young people from 15 to 29 years of age are the most disadvantaged in the market, with a 33.9 percent overall unemployment rate (35.6% for males and 27.4% for females). The level of poverty dropped from 25.4 percent to 12.5 percent in 2008, but due to economic factors increased to 14.3 percent in 2012. Extreme poverty fell to 2.2 percent in urban areas and 2.3 percent in rural areas, providing support to Albania’s achievements with regard to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).


  1. Gender Equality

According to the 2011, Time Use Survey conducted by INSTAT, women on average work (paid or unpaid) two hours more per day than men. In the absence of adequate childcare, employed women in particular are overburdened through their responsibility for both paid and unpaid care. In 2015, employment was 60.5 percent for men and 45.5 percent for women, while registered unemployment was roughly 17.5 percent for both women and men. Almost half (45%) of the female population of 15–64 years of age did not participate in the labour market, compared to 26.6 percent of men. Another deeply gendered feature of the labour market is that 50 percent of employed women are self-employed in the agriculture sector, compared to 36 percent of men. Among self-employed women in agriculture, the vast majority (87%) work for self-subsistence, which is known to be indicative of a precarious economic situation.


  1. Land Management

A formal market for rural land (sale and rental) is not yet fully developed in Albania. As of 2007, less than two percent of rural households had sold land on the formal market since the beginning of the privatisation, and only 3.6 percent had rented out their land. It is estimated that six percent of household farms have rented out their land and the average farm size is slowly increasing showing that the landowners are transacting land among themselves. The agricultural land market is still not fully developed. During 2010, some 3,600 land transactions were recorded, for a surface area of 830 ha agricultural land. From 2011–2015 an average of about 3,150 land transactions are recorded for an average surface area of 750 ha agricultural land per year. The issue of restitution and compensation for pre-communist era landowners continues to be not fully resolved in Albania, preventing many citizens from taking full ownership of the land they are entitled to possess.