Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, according to the World Bank. Poverty and vulnerability is pronounced in rural areas and among older people. Pensions and wages have increased by 20 per cent on average, but still have little bearing or significant influence on the vulnerability level of people as prices rise even more steeply.
The country is riven by emigration, as people seek a way to escape endemic poverty, provide for their families and make new lives. The rates of migration are extremely high, with about 25 per cent of the population living abroad. Villages made up of older people and children are often the norm rather than the exception, with the adults of working age having moved, either to the big cities of Moldova or often further afield, where they become vulnerable to human trafficking, particularly in the sex and construction trades.
Meanwhile, rates of HIV are increasing. As of 1 June 2007, the official number of cases of HIV was 3,850 but the real figure is certainly higher, with unofficial estimates ranging from 7,000 to 9,000. Some 80 per cent of all HIV cases are among youth aged 15-29. In Moldova HIV affects not only traditional youth groups at higher risk, such as unemployed youth, orphaned children, unaccompanied and street children, but appears to be spreading rapidly among the young population in general. Statistics indicate an increased percentage of heterosexual HIV-transmission. The consequences of HIV infection across the region often include loss of employment, harassment by law enforcement and lack of access to state-run services.
With a total population of less than 4 million (full-time residents), the Republic of Moldova has 766,000 pensioners, or about 19 per cent of the population, and more than 103,000 people with disabilities. Given that 25 per cent of the population of the working age have migrated, the number of elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and unsupervised children is increasing. An increasing number of older people in the country needs nursing care and support in their daily lives and an escape from loneliness and isolation. In addition to social and medical assistance, elderly people across the country do not have access to sufficient legal information on their entitlements.
Despite ongoing national and global efforts to combat environmental degradation, the severity and frequency of disasters and their impact on the society are increasing continuously. In 2007, some 277 people died and 325 people were injured in natural disasters and industrial emergencies according to the Department of Emergency Situations of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Severe and frequent droughts in recent years prompted the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to launch a food distribution programme in Moldova earlier this year. Lessons learnt from this operation have been incorporated into this plan.
The total 2009-2010 budget is CHF 886,021 (USD 809,891 or EUR 564,344).