The Republic of Moldova

tl_files/Bilder webbplatsen/mold_house.jpgThe Republic of Moldova – some short facts Moldova is a small but beautiful country with a fascinating history, culture and people. Its lush green hills, dense forests, and the wonderful sunflower fields are a treat to the eye. The land is very fertile, and vineyards occupy a major part of the country’s fertile land. The cultural heritage of Moldova is rich with traditions and customs. Its professional craftsmanship brought the country an international fame by making fine objects of embroidery, wood carvings, clay, knit carpets, metal decorations, baskets of osier. For all its beauty and Moldovans’ optimistic attitude towards life, the harsh reality is still different. The Republic of Moldova still remains the poorest country in Europe, a landlocked country bordered between Romania to the west and Ukraine to the east, north and south. The country declared its independence 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Independence and the reforms of the 1990s generated unemployment, crime, corruption, poverty, and illicit fortunes.

tl_files/Bilder webbplatsen/moldavien_karta.pngIt is a country that to this day battles corruption and poverty. Moldova is the only country in the world that has a democratically elected communist government. The Republic of Moldova is also referred to as the poorhouse of Europe and it’s not for nothing it has received this referral. Located at the outer perimeter of Europe and as such often neglected by international politics and media in general. The country finds itself a backslidden underdeveloped country that falls far behind the other countries in Europe. As of 2012 Moldova is not a full member of the European Union, but receives economical grants to assist in social development. According United Nations Human Development Index, Moldova is ranked 111 out of 169. It is a country in desperate need of help to overcome social and political injustices as well as poverty and corruption. But for anyone who cares to look behind the statistics and look on to the people, will have a transforming mark put on to their life.

Socio-economic situation – at a glance
tl_files/Bilder webbplatsen/mold_man.jpgAlmost a third of the Republic’s population and two out of five children in rural areas live below the International Poverty Line. High unemployment and soaring living costs have meant that nearly half of the population lives below the national poverty line. Unemployment, adult migration, poor housing and limited social services have weakened the ability of parents to care for their children. About half of the population of working age is without a job; the social system is ineffective and suffers from poor and insufficient management: pensioners, unemployed or disabled people are hardly getting any social benefit. The average income receiving social disability pension averages $53 (€43) per month. As is often the case everywhere when people lack the essentials of life, it is the weakest people in society who suffer most. Since long the many young at employable age has left the country, immigrated to other countries in Europe and elsewhere. What remains behind are the weakest of society: children, the elderly, the sick, the disabled and the homeless, without any economical means to support themselves. The consequence of this is that many people in Moldova now have to live on remittances sent from Moldovans living abroad and this account for almost 38% of Moldova’s GDP, the second-highest percentage in the world. According to the official data more than 332,000 Moldovans live legally in countries other than Moldova, while the real number, which includes those working illegally, may exceed half a million or more8. Current unemployment rate is 7.2% and the total population around 3.6 million, Transnistria excluded. This calls for action supplying the local communities with new opportunities in the job market. Political instability has left fiscal policy fragmented, and there is significant corruption in most areas of the bureaucracy. Local businesses, especially in rural areas, struggle to survive. Without help from outside (the west) small companies, often privately owned have very slim chances to grow and develop. The economy has made a modest recovery, growing by 6% in 2011, but remains vulnerable to political uncertainty, weak administrative capacity, vested bureaucratic interests, higher fuel prices and the concerns of foreign investors as well as the presence of an illegal separatist regime in Moldova’s Transnistria region.

The monthly salary is still very low compared to other countries in Europe. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the average earning was about 1440 lei ($119 or €95). The average income for qualified work fluctuates around $274 (218€). The top salary is found in the financial and medical sector (doctors) and peaks with a monthly income of approximate $720 (€550). The monthly retirement pension in Moldova averages $64 (€48). In the first quarter of 2012 the Moldovans’ earnings have increased with 6.6% compared with the same period of last year. The population below the poverty line was estimated to 29% in 2009. Economic performance is far below potential. Lingering state interference in the private sector increases economic risk in a volatile political environment. Economic reforms have also been slow because of corruption and strong political forces backing government controls.

Energy, fresh water and sanitary supplies
tl_files/Bilder webbplatsen/mold_well.jpgThe Republic of Moldova is almost completely dependent on imported energy resources (approximately 98%), mainly from Russia and Ukraine. Following Moldova’s independence, the country was left without its own energy supply. Since then the country has been heavily reliant on imported energy supplies, such as gas and electricity. Gas is mainly imported from Russia (Gazprom). Electrical production is insufficient and, as a consequence, Moldova imports the bulk of its needs from its neighbors (Ukraine and Romania). Furthermore, another huge major problem is the distribution of fresh water. This is especially evident in the rural areas where most people get their water from local wells, ever so often contaminated with pollutants, nitrates and heavy metals. It is these areas that suffer the most, as the population remains mostly disconnected to the central water supply and sewage systems. In some regions only 3 to 4% of houses have a sewage connection.