PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro, Sept 27 (AFP) -
Poverty remains widespread in Kosovo more than six years after fighting with Serb forces here ended, the World Bank said Tuesday.
Around 15 percent of Kosovo's population lived in "extreme poverty", surviving on less than 93 euro cents (1.12 dollars) a day, while another 37 percent got by with under 1.42 euros (1.70 dollars), the bank said in a report.
"Kosovo faces an important policy challenge in the coming years," said Kanthan Shankar, the World Bank's representative in the province.
"This requires a strong commitment by government policymakers and their international partners to work together and implement policy programs that sustain and accelerate broad-based growth and thereby contribute to poverty reduction," Shankar said.
The World Bank said Kosovo's worst-hit groups were the elderly, disabled, unemployed and households led by women.
The province has been under UN administration since June 1999, when NATO bombing ended a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists who fought against the regime of then-Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.
The initial economic priorities of the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) were to re-establish the provision of basic goods and services, set up a minimal welfare net and rehabilitate utilities.
Since the end of the conflict, a series of small commercial activities flourished in Kosovo, but that level of growth has proved to be difficult to sustain.
While improving, Kosovo's agricultural sector has failed to reach pre-war levels and remains fragile. Things are even worse for the province's industrial sector which needs to be rebuilt and remains at a standstill.