Over the course of a 20+ year partnership with Kosovo, USAID’s development assistance has shifted and matured to address the changing needs of a growing country. As Kosovo entered the second decade of its independence, USAID’s assistance is focused on facilitating accountability and creating opportunities that lead toward effective and transparent governance rooted in the rule of law and a strong private sector. Helping Kosovo address the challenges of creating jobs, tackling corruption, and building bridges among Kosovo’s diverse communities is essential, as the country is making first strong efforts on its journey to self-reliance.
The first years of the partnership addressed immediate post-conflict humanitarian needs and emphasized the construction and rehabilitation of basic infrastructure, including roads, schools, community health centers, and water and sanitation systems. Initial improvements to energy-related institutions were also realized. On the institutional side, USAID initially embedded technical staff at every level of key Kosovo institutions, building organizational and human capacity from the ground up.
Since that time, USAID has been instrumental in decreasing the impediments to private sector growth -- installing modern budget, taxation, and treasury processes; reducing reliance on imports and developing an improved business operating environment; and increasing sales and employment for the long-term growth of local enterprises. Education programs have increased access to basic education and the quality of educational infrastructure and create opportunities for higher education among Kosovo’s young population. USAID also helped to create a core legal framework for a functioning market economy, developed a constitution, established a constitutional court, instituted an electoral system, and re-invigorated a now thriving civil society.
USAID has transitioned from starting up economic ministries and independent agencies to enhancing the ability of these public organizations to manage the overall economy. Additionally, helping private enterprises enter new markets, develop new products, and advance labor skills and productivity has been an important pillar of the assistance provided. Improvements to the regulatory and business-enabling environment increase foreign and domestic investment and private sector employment, while the new Kosovo Credit Guarantee Fund complements this effort by increasing access to finance for small businesses. USAID support at the firm-level increases the quality and quantity of industry and agricultural production and ties these businesses with potential buyers, including in the EU.
More recently, USAID’s efforts helped to improve judicial effectiveness, increase efficiency, and strengthen transparency in the justice sector. Following the milestone achieved in 2017, the integration of Kosovo-Serb judicial authorities into Kosovo’s government, USAID remains focused on ensuring fully functioning courts in northern Kosovo. USAID facilitated making the judicial services related to property rights faster and more efficient and increasing women’s access to the property, while commercial law reform efforts continue to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of commercial dispute resolution.
Strengthening accountability and addressing corruption at the municipal level by increasing the transparency and effectiveness of municipal procurement systems continues to be a crucial objective, while additional activities that increase municipal capacity to deliver services also ensure that Kosovo institutions are accessible and responsive to Kosovo’s non-majority populations.