Villages, once buzzing with people, are deserted today

Villiages, once buzzingAlthough with quite developed infrastructure, the municipality of Skenderaj, especially after the war of 1999, probably more than other municipalities,  is encountering massive displacement of the population from villages into the town. Municipal officials say that villages also have modern infrastructures and offer decent living conditions, but it appears that people are not content with the rural life and seek a better life in the town.

The countryside was once a place for large families that lived in harmony, and everyone worked equally for the well-being of the household. With time, this has changed and villages have become dwellings of families with fewer members and not much involvement in agriculture.

Sevdije Zabeli who lived in the village of Rezallë, was involved in milking cows and milk production, but since she moved to the town (Fushë Kosovë), 13 years ago, she has stopped with these activities. She says that the rural life was more dynamic and she had more engagement, apart from taking care of her kids, and running other usual household errands. Since she moved to the town, she has more time for her kids and has no other responsibilities.

Sofie Zabeli (common second name in the same village) shares the same view: her family members who live in the town have an easier life because they don’t need specific transportation, since they are close to downtown, schools and groceries.

“A lot of things are different in the town. My kids can play in the playgrounds of the shopping malls while I do my shopping, knowing that my kids are nearby. I couldn’t do this living in the village because I needed a car to get around, have my kids with when going to groceries, or find someone to look after them until I returned,” says Sofia.

Vlora also had drastic changes in her way of living. She started studying in the Faculty of Education when she moved to the city, and after graduating got a job as a teacher in Fushë Kosova. If she had stayed in the village, she says, she wouldn’t have been able to finish her studies, let alone find a job.

Shehide Fazliu, who decided to leave village of Kotorr together with her family, says that life in the country is hard: kids have to walk to school, there are no grocery stores in the village, and the boys have to travel every day to work. They all decided to leave the village together, hoping for less living expenses, while the kids also prefer the town.

According to the most recent population census of the Skenderaj municipality in 2011, around 86.69% of the population lives in villages, whereas 13.31 live in towns. While lacking updated data, Nazmi Istogu from the Office of the Cadaster of the Skenderaj municipality says that from 2011 they have seen massive displacement of population towards the town, adding that numerous apartment complexes were built since, and are being populated by each day.

According to the most recent Kosovo Statistics Agency publication, that also covers internal population movements (from one municipality to another) 8,972 families moved from villages to towns last year only.

Liridona Berisha

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