Albania: Empowering rural communities through sustainable livelihoods opportunities
Located on the Balkan peninsula amid rugged mountains, wild beaches and fortress towns, it's easy to see why Albania is fast becoming every tourist's hidden gem. Yet, the country's long history of isolation and tight state control has often prevented its people from capitalising on their strongest assets.
As the country opens up - seeing migrant numbers leap and younger generations move abroad or to overcrowded cities - an ailing economy and organised crime continue to write the history books. 80,000 people in Albania - nearly one quarter of the population - lives in extreme poverty, surviving off of less than two US dollars per day.
The backwards effect of the massive depopulation of remote rural communities is inescapable. An ageing population, cut off from the outside world, face a number of acute threats including environmental risks such as deforestation and natural disaster as well as a grossly under-utilised agro-tourism industry.
Albania has a population of 2.8 million people
Some 800,000 people are living below the poverty line
In 2022 1,170 people took part in our programmes
What we do in Albania
Dorcas has been active in Albania since 1992 to create robust livelihoods opportunities and social protection systems for vulnerable older people, youth and marginalised groups. Our programmes draw upon the power of partnerships at the local level - community-based organisations, private companies, education institutes and governments - to ensure our work has lasting impact.
Community Safety Nets
We set up networks and day care centres where local actors - be they student volunteers, private companies or institutions such as churches - commit to taking care of older people. This care package covers practical support including food and access to medical services as well as outreach work with families and local authorities - all designed to help older generations participate in society again.
Our Adopt a Granny programme, also active in Albania, extends this provision of care to the international community.
We deliver entrepreneurial skills training and professional learning opportunities to encourage people to develop a career in the agricultural sector. These programmes see all-ages, particularly young adults, launch their own sustainable agro-tourism or farming business - grounded in 'value added' production principles. Participants are also introduced to the concept of social farming.
Child Protection and Education
More than 120,000 children are living in conditions of extreme poverty in Albania, many of them Roma. We seek to break this cycle by providing pathways to work and inclusive learning opportunities for all - be they Albanian or one of nine other ethnic minorities. Our activities support children to work together, reject stereotypes and deal with complicated feelings - ultimately shielding each other from the biggest threats they face.
Inclusive Communities Tropojë - A Brighter Future
Tropojë is a municipality in northern Albania, close to the border with Kosovo. It might forever be remembered as the region that opened its doors to thousands of refugees during the 1998 Kosovo War - compassionate but ill-equipped to handle the influx. Today, one of the previously poorest districts in Europe is slowly on the up, aided by its natural surroundings. But it needs support. Lack of employment opportunities exacerbated by environmental degradation regularly prevent families from making ends meet.
2019 saw Dorcas roll-out an initiative to directly respond to these issues - and capitalise on the rich potential of both the region and its inhabitants.
Meet our Country Director...
Ilia Dishnica - Country Director Albania
"Rural Albania is a true jewel - the nature here is raw and untouched. Yet the majority of young people move away in search of a better life. We work hard to strengthen local resilience by helping individuals get the most out of their environment. As former President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Korca, I was able to improve relations with other chambers in the Balkans and Western European economies. I believe in the innate strengths of the country and its people. I want to see them stay and contribute to their society."
- Emanuel Mission Foundation -Korça
- Integration Association Tropoja - Bajram Curri
Strategic Partners and Donors
- Kom Over En Help
- New Day Impact
- Municipality of Korçë
- Municipality of Maliq
- Municipality of Tropojë
- Dutch Embassy
- MARA Foundation
- Swiss Contact