Albania has made great stride in economic growth and poverty reduction in recent years. In 2015, the country ranked 85th of 188 countries on the United Nations’ Human Development Index—just making the cutoff to fall under the category of high human development. While vast improvements have been made, there is still a long way to go: unemployment still stands at 13%; gender inequality remains relatively high; and gaps between opportunities available to rural and urban areas have widened.
Islamic Relief started working in Albania in 1991, after war and unrest had effectively isolated Albania and hampered already impoverished living conditions for millions of Albanians. Islamic Relief launched its programs in Albania by first responding to urgent needs: Islamic Relief provided essential food rations and clothing to many who had been suffering from the stresses of war. By the spring 1992, Islamic Relief Albania had opened an office so it could implement long-term development projects to help Albanians secure the necessary skills and tools to help them help themselves. Recent IRUSA projects include seasonal food aid and improved access to water.