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Sida's work in Albania

Albania has developed rapidly in recent decades. However, the country still faces many challenges. By developing the market economy, strengthening democracy and reducing environmental impact, Sida's reform cooperation is helping the country move closer to EU membership.

Sida's support in Albania

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Progress has been made

Unemployment is falling

Although still relatively high, unemployment has fallen from 18 % in 2014 to 11.9 % in 2022.1

Moving closer to the EU

The country is moving closer to EU membership, but the process is slow. In the wake of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, Albania’s parliament is now appealing to the European Council to speed up negotiations on EU membership.2

Justice system is improving

In 2016, the parliament adopted a reform of the judiciary to increase its efficiency and independence. In several cases, scrutiny of judges and prosecutors has led to dismissals and prosecutions for high-level corruption have been launched. However, this has led to a certain vacuum in the judiciary. This has affected citizens’ access to justice. The treatment of juvenile offenders has also been aligned with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Challenges remain

Weak state institutions

Legislation to guarantee human rights exists, but state institutions are weak. Corruption is widespread and the judicial system is politicised, which means that the law is not always applied.3

Violence against women is on the rise

More than half of women in Albania have been subjected to violence at some point in their lifetime.In 2021, the number of homicides increased by 13 %, with one-third of victims being women killed by their partner, ex-partner or other family member.4

Environmental work is slow

Albania’s environmental progress is too slow. For example, nature conservation areas are being restricted to make way for infrastructure and tourism.

Reform cooperation in Albania

Albania is a democracy and since the fall of the communist regime in 1991 has had an established democratic basis with free and universal elections. However, there has been criticism of the electoral process, which has been marred by fraud and vote buying. Membership of the EU is an overarching political goal and in 2014 the country was granted candidate status in the Union. Albania can become an EU member by 2025 at the earliest. In the government formed after the 2021 elections, as many as 70 % of the ministers are women.5

Market development

Albania is a country in transition, which poses significant challenges for the economy. Unemployment is relatively high, although it is moving in the right direction.6 In 2021, the tourism and construction sectors were important drivers of the country’s economy. In the wake of the lifting of Covid restrictions and the reconstruction efforts after the 2019 earthquake, tourism in Albania increased in 2021.7


Supporting agriculture and the textile industry

Businesses in various sectors are challenged by corruption and lack of financing. To promote the textile and agricultural industries, contribute to sustainability and better adapt them to European markets, Sida supports the UN Development Programme, UNDP’s Business Partnership and Solutions project. The project provides farmers with access to organic seeds, but it also involves efforts to facilitate the drying and storage of food and crops.

Sida is also supporting the CNVP organisation and the Medical Aromatic Plants (MAP) project to increase the income of rural women in particular.

Modernising the tax system

Property taxation in Albania is outdated, making it difficult for the government to collect taxes. Sida, through the Swedish Tax Agency, is supporting a reform that will help modernise the regulations while increasing tax revenues for municipalities and citizens’ confidence in the tax system.


Human rights, democracy and the rule of law

Human rights are well protected in Albanian law, but in practice violations are relatively common.8 Poverty, corruption, a weak public administration and a lack of good public services negatively affect people’s rights. Girls, women and minority groups are particularly vulnerable.


Better access to administrative services

Corruption in Albania is widespread and citizens’ transparency in public affairs has traditionally been poor.9 To facilitate administrative matters, UNDP, with support from Sida, has introduced so-called “one-stop-shops” where citizens can carry out a range of administrative services. The system is now rolled out in all municipalities in the country and leads to greater transparency in public activities and reduces the risk of corruption.

One-stop-shops on UNDP’s website


Working against violence against women

Violence against women and girls in Albania is still widespread.10 However, more prosecutions are being brought, which is on a positive trend as the country’s judicial system strives to prosecute perpetrators. Through its support for the UN Joint Programme on Ending Violence, Sida is contributing to important efforts to combat violence against women. Among other things, 219 police officers received training to improve their risk assessment in cases of domestic violence.

UN Joint Programme on Ending Violence on UNDP’s website

Stronger civil society

Albanian civil society is increasingly concerned about the loss of transparency in the work of public institutions. Through the Albanian Women Empowerment Network, Sida supports ten women’s rights organisations. Through the Olof Palme International Centre, Sida also supports youth organisations and trade unions. In addition, in 2021 Sida supported 22 indigenous environmental organisations that promote environmental issues locally in various ways.


Environment and climate

Albania faces severe environmental problems, including pollution, environmental degradation and inadequate waste management.11 Environmental work has very low political priority and lacks both the administrative and financial resources to implement the necessary environmental and climate improvements. However, due in part to increased media coverage of environment-related issues, awareness is now growing among both civil society and the general public.


Strengthened environmental legislation

Albania has a long way to go to meet EU environmental requirements, which are necessary for the country to join the EU. Sida supports the SANE27 programme, which contributes to Albania’s efforts to meet EU requirements. This is being done, among other things, by adapting environmental legislation and increasing the participation of local environmental organisations in the country’s environmental work.

SANE27 web page

Improving water and sanitation

Municipal water and sanitation services in Albania are inadequate. Together with the Water Resources Authority and the country’s Water, Sewerage and Waste Management Authority, Sida is working to improve capacity and organisation. It is also a matter of developing long-term sustainable solutions both in terms of investments and adaptation to the EU directives on drinking water and waste water.

Updated: October 4, 2022