by
on July 21, 2019 on 7/21/19 from

Kosovo through a Developmental Lens

Today marks my twenty-second consecutive day in Kosovo. I leave Kosovo a week from today and I am already starting to miss it. I have come to love Kosovo more than I expected to you. One of my primary interests for coming to Kosovo was to learn more about development in Europe.

I have seen development in advanced countries like Japan and the United States and in less advanced countries like Guatemala and Haiti. Kosovo is unique because Kosovars are in an interesting stage of development having only declared their independence in 2008.  The nation continues to develop in all aspects from culture, buildings, educational services, health services, and other infrastructural services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Comparison of university entrance upon arrival and a few weeks into the program.)

When I first arrived at Rochester Institue of Technology Kosovo (RIT Kosovo) American University in Kosovo, the sidewalks were not paved. Great strides have been made to improve sidewalks in Prishtina. Driving through parts of Kosovo, roads are paved and smooth. Good Roads are important to development as they allow for safer travel and makes goods easier to transport.  In Haiti, the roads are not great in many places, causing many who live in rural areas to be isolated. Kosovo is pretty mountainous and hilly like Haiti and Guatemala, so roads are essential to provide everyone with access to different resources within the community.

The public transportation system in Kosovo is great! The buses run often and they cover a lot of ground. Although bus stops are not as visible as they are at the metro system that I am used to in the Washington D.C. Metro Area, the bus system is very efficient. I have used the buses to go to the market, courthouse, bookstore, restaurants, and stores to shop.

In Kosovo, grocery stores that I have visited have flags to indicate where products come from. I think that this is an important part of infrastructure because citizens are more aware of in-country products and can buy products to support the local economy if they choose to do so.

(Photo of part of the dairy section at Meridian Express.)

The homes that I have seen are beautiful. The architecture is very unique. Homes in neighborhoods generally do not look the same. They tend to have different styles and shapes. The homes reminded me again of Guatemala and Haiti because the homes are built from concrete, unlike wooden homes that are typical in the United States.

(Home that a few students, including myself, lived in during the program.)
 Kosovo has electricity and hot water. We did have a few power outages within the home, but they did not last more than half an hour to an hour. This is important to the development of a nation because having running water and electricity are critical basic needs. However, in the midst of beauty, being in Prishtina, Kosovo’s capital city, I have witnessed poverty as well. I expected this as Prishtina is the country’s most populated city. I noticed beggars and children randomly walking up to strangers to ask for money.
This really tugged on my heart because I wish I had enough to give to everyone that I encountered, but money ultimately does not solve the root causes of poverty. This year marked 20 years since the war in Kosovo ended and hearing from professionals who worked in Kosovo during the conflict, Kosovo has progressed tremendously.
In 1999, Kosovo had no financial institutions, no legitimate police force, lack of a judiciary system, no electricity, no system for the distribution of water, and no agricultural production. There was a lot of government corruption and high organized crime and black market activity. The country has made incredible strides to be where they are today. There is still progress to be done in Kosovo as the health and education system is not that strong. However, Kosovo is a lower-middle-income country and it continues to experience economic growth annually. I am excited to keep reading about how Kosovo continues to grow throughout the years to come.