development projects in bosnia and herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina returned to international news in recent weeks with the conviction and sentencing of Ratko Mladić. The former Bosnian Serb general was sentenced to life in prison for genocide and other war crimes of the early 1990s. These acts occurred during the wars following the breakup of the former country of Yugoslavia, of which Bosnia and Herzegovina emerged as an independent state in late 1995 following ratification of the Dayton peace accords.

Years of war and refugee crises in the early 1990s left the new country in need of extensive assistance from the international community. Despite considerable success in rebuilding and integration, many development efforts continue to be needed there today. Below is a summary of five ongoing development projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Banking Sector Strengthening Project

The World Bank is currently leading a $60 million initiative to increase the resilience of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s banking sector. The project comprises five phases and is set to be complete in December 2020. The project’s objective is to enhance the supervision, regulation and resolution capacity of the banking agencies already present in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s federal government.

Modernizing the banking sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina and bringing it to current international standards is an essential result for any future attempt by Bosnia and Herzegovina to apply for admission to the European Union (EU), an eventuality that could accelerate improvements in the Balkan nation’s quality of life. 

Employment Support Program

Parallel to the banking sector project, the World Bank is also funding a program to combat persistent unemployment in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The program began in early 2017 and will last through 2021. The program will focus on increasing the effectiveness and scale of governmental programs to place citizens into matching private sector employment. The program will include wage subsidies, job training and support for self-employment. It also has a component to improve management systems and information technology related to employment efforts.

EU-Sponsored Development Programs

Germany and the EU recently awarded $1.2 million in grants to a collection of development projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Among other objectives, these grants will fund technical support for entrepreneurs, particularly in metallurgy and agribusiness. According to the EU delegation to Bosnia, the grants are specifically intended to bring the nation closer to the European Union.

USAID Flood Relief Programs

Steep mountainous terrain covers the majority of Bosnia and Herzegovina, making the country vulnerable to torrential rains that caused extensive damage from landslides and flooding in 2014. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) responded to the disasters with dozens of small-scale grants for development projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

These projects included both infrastructure repair and direct assistance grants to affected farmers and communities. Repairs and upgrades included numerous drainage system projects and the rebuilding of municipal buildings that were damaged in the flooding.

Road Connectivity and Safety Initiative

Finally, the World Bank is also involved in an extensive $64 million program to improve road safety and the continuity of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s transportation network. The European Investment Bank co-financed the program, and it is also directed towards the eventual accession of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the EU.

The funds will finance the rehabilitation of a planned 178 km of roads, including tunnels and bridges. World Bank officials expect these projects to improve employment and commercial opportunities and to stimulate tourism and exports through the country’s access to the Adriatic coast.

These five, coupled with other development projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, are helping to bring stability to this diverse nation after a war that started nearly a generation ago. If progress continues as expected, Bosnia and Herzegovina will meet their goal to join the EU and be fully integrated into the mainstream of Western Europe in a few short years.    

– Paul Robertson

Photo: Flickr


The infrastructure in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been recovering from the destruction brought by the Bosnian War in 1995 ever since its end. The two main ways of travel, the motorway and the railway, have been and still are the priorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina when reconstructing and rehabilitating after the war. There have been several projects set forth to create safe and business-boosting infrastructure in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Motorway Transport

Many roadways have been constructed parallel to railways to improve travel times. Corridor Vc is one of the most popular and best ways to travel from big cities like Sarajevo, Zenica and Mostar to the E.U. Recently, there has been a motorway built to lessen the amount of time it takes to travel between these cities.

“It used to take double or even triple the time…when you travel to the north to visit friends and family, it is very convenient” a woman stopping at the toll station told the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Between the years of 2007-2011, a Road Infrastructure and Safety Project was put in place to improve traffic conditions, increase road safety and modernize road maintenance procedures. A total of 30 million U.S. dollars were used to finance the rehabilitation of the roadways.

When the Road Infrastructure and Safety Project came to an end in 2011, 61km out of the 241km of road projected to be done had been rehabilitated. Road safety had progressed and the Republika Srpska, a road safety agency, was created to monitor roadway safety. Lastly, a maintenance contract was signed in March 2010 with the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to assist in modernizing road maintenance procedures.

Railway Transport

Since the mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina are rich with resources like metal, steel and aluminum, it is vital to have proper and heavy duty railways for transportation of these resources. The EBRD contributed 101 million Euros in the early 2000s to build new tracks, reconstruct tunnels and install new signaling systems for the railways.

After the initial contribution, the construction of a better railway boosted business in the country. Heavy industry organizations, such as iron and steel manufacturers, were located along the route and access to their markets became easier.

Based on the Railways of the Federation website, there are 14 core activities that are done to ensure the best railway infrastructure. Included is the organization and management of railway traffic, safety of both passenger and cargo transport, routine maintenance of signaling, telecommunication and contact networks and development of railway regulations.

Also included on the website are tips for passenger and freight traffic for resident travelers and transporters. The traffic indicators let a passenger know what they should expect when taking a train to a different city. For a transporter, there are diagrams that show the tons of goods being transported along the Bosnia and Herzegovina railway.

Transport infrastructure in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been improving each year. Overall, the country has been able to create faster transportation and more efficient means to transport goods in order to increase business.

– Brianna Summ

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Years of war and a fragmented economic system have resulted in high rates of unemployment and hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As far back as the early 1990s, the republic has faced hunger issues and has yet to resolve them.

Restless demonstrators and the hungry have joined together to protest the idea that there is “no hunger” in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo. 17 government buildings have been set aflame in frustration as the government works to find solutions to the unemployment and hunger epidemic. Iconically spoken in the country’s three official languages, the protests have attracted demonstrators from more than 30 cities.

Most of the demonstrations are addressing the up-and-down economic trends over the years that have caused a spike in unemployment. Between 1992 and 1995, the country faced an 80 percent drop in production, which improved until the worldwide economic crisis of 2008. In 2013 the country recovered again, with the private sector slowly growing.

In 2016, the country’s GDP was estimated at $42.23 billion, an increase from 2015’s $41.2 billion. However, unemployment in 2016 was estimated at 28 percent, an increase from 2015’s 27.7 percent, while the population below the poverty line in 2011 was at 17.2 percent.

Despite these economic trends, undernourishment and hunger rates in Bosnia and Herzegovina have fallen. Starting in 2000, the undernourishment percentage was reported at 4.1, then decreased to 2.2 in 2008 and 0.9 percent in 2016. The prevalence of wasting in children and the mortality rate have also followed the same trend.

To address the unstable economy and the ever-present hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has created 17 sustainable development goals. The second goal directly tackles the hunger epidemic the country has faced in the past decades. The goal is to end hunger by 2030 by promoting sustainable agricultural practices such as supporting small-scale farmers and allowing access to land, technology and markets.

As hunger rates continue to fall, the country along with the UNDP will continue to find solutions to end hunger in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Additionally, by creating an economic system to lower the country’s unemployment rates and increase the overall GDP, the country will continue to see a drop in hunger rates.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Poverty in Bosnia remains a challenge. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country with a population of 3.5 million located in southeast Europe and is best known for its 1992-95 war and genocide in Srebrenica. Yet, more than 20 years after the end of the war, Bosnia’s citizens are still suffering in poverty. Approximately 50 percent of the country is deemed vulnerable to becoming poor. The poverty rate is 19 percent in rural areas and 9 percent in urban areas.

In addition, 15 percent of Bosnian citizens cannot afford basic services, such as food, clean water, fuel or healthcare. Only about a third of all working-age citizens have a job, and only a quarter of those same citizens have a formal job. Poverty is higher in rural areas where 50 percent of the population depends on agriculture even though much of the land in Bosnia is not suited to agriculture. Farmers also lost 90 percent of their livestock in the war. Children face disproportionate levels of poverty and, according to UNICEF, 170,000 children in Bosnia are poor.

 

Causes of Poverty in Bosnia: War and the Economy

The causes of poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina are more complex and tied to the country’s history and culture than they may first appear. The legacy of the war is the most salient cause of poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Before the war, Bosnia was classified as a middle-income country. However, the conflict devastated the economy, down-grading Bosnia to a lower middle-income country. It has yet to bounce back to its pre-war level of economic prosperity.

Other economic repercussions of the war include a government that is expensive to run and corruption that runs rampant among politicians. Infrastructure is still under reconstruction and many Bosnians live outside of their homes and outside of the country, having been internally displaced or forced to flee.

The war is still felt in Bosnia in ways that are not just economic. Deep ethnic divides translate to political divides. This subjects at least half of the population to discrimination in the workforce and in society. These tensions affect the allocation of resources, further disadvantaging minority groups.

 

Gender Inequality and Cultural Attitudes

Gender inequality has become a cause of poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina in a unique way. Working-age men faced the highest numbers of fatalities during the war, and as a result, one in four households are now headed by women. These households are the most vulnerable to tipping over the edge into poverty because women only make up 35 percent of the workforce and they are typically paid less.

Attitudes toward welfare are also a cause of poverty. Bosnia does receive foreign aid and it has its own welfare programs designed to provide help to poor and at-risk populations. However, 85 percent of people in Bosnia believe the elderly need more financial and government assistance, while only 60 percent of people believe the same of children.

 

The Good News

Despite the high levels of poverty and unemployment, Bosnia’s future is far from abysmal. Progress has been made in recent years. According to the UNDP, “Over the first decade of the millennium, BiH has achieved progress in a number of areas. The annual average GDP growth of 6 percent has led to a reduction in poverty of almost 4 percent.” The government reduced its dependence on foreign aid and remittances from Bosnian expatriates. And the society made strides toward gender equality, as shown by the relatively high parity in education, particularly at the university level.

By continuing to empower civil society, holding the government and its officials accountable and providing equal access to resources and services, Bosnia can continue to pull its people out of poverty and reduce the power of its wartime legacy.

Olivia Bradley

Photo: Google

Common Diseases in Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and Herzegovina, located east of Italy on the Adriatic Sea, is a small country perhaps best known as the site of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914. The country declared sovereignty and independence from Yugoslavia in 1992, igniting three years of inter-ethnic conflicts. After peace accords were signed, the economy began to grow steadily, and progress has been made towards becoming part of the EU. With a steadily growing economy and a strong legal system, only common diseases in Bosnia and Herzegovina remain an obstacle between the country and long-term prosperity.

One of the most common diseases in Bosnia and Herzegovina is cardiovascular disease, which can cause heart attacks and strokes, the leading causes of death in Bosnia and Herzegovina. All told, cardiovascular diseases account for 56 percent of deaths in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Another of the most common diseases in Bosnia and Herzegovina is cancer, causing an additional 20 percent of all deaths. Among the roughly 4,000 male deaths caused by cancer each year, more than a third are due to lung cancer. The risk of this cancer is increased by the 44 percent of men who use tobacco products in the country.

Among women, the rate of both lung cancer and smoking is significantly lower. Breast cancer is the most significant killer, claiming more than 1000 lives per year. Common risk factors for women include obesity and a lack of physical activity.

Over the course of the past decade, premature death caused by cardiovascular disease has dropped by almost 10 percent. However, over the same period, the number of deaths caused by lung cancer has increased by 6 percent, while diabetes has gone up by almost 25 percent.

The good news about common diseases in Bosnia and Herzegovina is that few are communicable, and little needs to be done in terms of international intervention. With a life expectancy equal to most modern nations, the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina needs only to encourage healthier habits in its citizenry to vastly improve their quality of life.

Connor S. Keowen

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Despite a slight drop in the national poverty rate over the last decade, Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to be a fragile and struggling European economy. According to the World Bank, the poverty rate in Bosnia and Herzegovina stood at 17.9 percent in 2011, a 0.3 percent decrease from 2007.

Annual GDP growth has fluctuated in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the global financial crisis of 2008. Additionally, at 28 percent in 2016, the country has one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe according to the CIA’s World Factbook.

Women and children are most vulnerable to an increasing poverty rate in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Families that are larger (with three children or more) are also more disenfranchised than smaller families. According to UNICEF, an estimated 170,000 children in Bosnia and Herzegovina are poor.

A 2015 study conducted by UNICEF found that the majority of children (75 percent) ages five to 15 are deprived of one or more basic life necessities, such as nutrition, educational resources and housing.

Children in rural areas are even more likely to be deprived. An urban/rural divide was evident in the UNICEF study as well. Children in the countryside are more likely to be deprived in more categories and have less access to medical facilities, adequate housing and primary schools.

According to the Brookings Institution, sustainable poverty reduction, especially for deprived children, will require increased labor market participation by women. According to the World Bank, 32 percent of women are employed in the top 60 percent of wealthy families in the country.

Increasing rates of preschool attendance and creating access to early childhood education, particularly in rural areas, is also vital to ending poverty cycles faced by children in the country.

In light of its recent data, UNICEF supported the Bosnian government’s efforts to “provide conditions for children to reach their full potential and address the causes of discrimination.” The “Country Program” took place between 2010 and 2014.

Significant efforts such as this one have been made in the attempt to reduce poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina, specifically by supporting educational authorities and schools in the bid to guarantee access to a quality education and reduce the poverty rate in Bosnia and Herzegovina for children.

Melanie Snyder

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Bosnia and HerzegovinaAlthough there is an abundance of water resources, the water quality in Bosnia and Herzegovina is lacking. Access to drinkable water is far below the standards set by the European Union (EU), which rests on four pillars:

  1. Ensure that drinking water quality is controlled through standards based on the latest scientific evidence.
  2. Secure an efficient and effective monitoring, assessment and enforcement of drinking water quality.
  3. Provide the consumers with adequate, timely and appropriate information.
  4. Contribute to the broader EU water and health policy.

Currently, only about 65 percent of the country’s population has a connection to municipal or public water utilities – the average of European Union countries is 90 percent. Only large urban centers have a satisfactory supply of water, both in terms of quality and quantity. Unfortunately, the poorest and most vulnerable of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s population live in rural areas.

However, help has recently come through the implementation of 18 infrastructure projects within the “Securing Access to Water through Institutional Development and Infrastructure in Bosnia and Herzegovina.” Implemented through a partnership with the nation’s own citizens, one of the goals of the program is to educate the country’s water supply companies on how to best provide for their communities.

With financing from the government of Spain and support from the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund, the program has been able to help 55,000 people gain sustainable access to clean water. Today, disused water pipes have been replaced, returnee settlements have secured connections to sustainable water supplies, more water springs are protected and filter plants have been installed.

This has constituted an overall increase of two percent of citizens with access to clean water. Although it may not seem like much, it is a fundamental step in the right direction. Damages inflicted during the country’s recent war dealt a blow to the country’s infrastructure, as maintenance was neglected and pollution increased. Therefore, it is precisely with programs like this that water quality in Bosnia and Herzegovina will hope to see improvement.

Shannon Golden

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights Violations
There is long history of the violation of human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most violations were carried out through a process called “ethnic cleansing,” which is the killing, mockery and banishment of unwanted minorities. In this conflict, the Bosnian Muslims made up the majority of Serbians in this region and they wanted to rid the country of all Non-Serbians. The violations of human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina were mass atrocities. The country has never fully amended or reckoned with the human rights violations and this creates problems in the country even today.

The country’s government is still highly decentralized and distressed by ongoing internal ethnic conflicts. The Dayton Accords ended the war, splitting the territories and creating a democratic republic with a bicameral parliament. Those who suffer most from violations of human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina are the victims of civil war, refugees, national minorities and the LGBTQ community. Little support from the country or government is being given to help these victims fight human rights violations.

There are a few non-governmental organizations that have been successful in assisting those who are fighting abuses. An organization, called the Human Rights Centre of the University of Sarajevo, has been providing the universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina with tools for education that can work towards achieving international implementation of human rights. It promotes vital documentation, lectures, expert advice and research in order to work toward the international implementation goal.

The Post-Conflict Research Center has dedicated its time to preserving and revamping the culture of peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It works towards preventing violence and radical movements through research, peace education, transitional justice and respecting human rights. It has an ultimate goal of changing the country’s view on diversity from a source of conflict to a source of acceptance and community.

Another NGO called the Sarajevo Open Centre directly advocates for the LGBTQ community. It works to empower people, especially those facing the most abuse, through integration into the community and activism.
One other organization called the Association for Democratic Initiatives focuses on restoring the rule of law, European Union integrations and the protection of human rights. This organization has been trying to render the support of the government in fighting human rights violations. This organization is important for building a society of peace because without government support and aid this proves challenging.

There remains a long way to go in order to fully mend the violations of human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina from the past, as well as the ones that continue to occur due to those in the past. These non-governmental organizations have been the country’s best hope for working towards respecting human rights of all people.

Katelynn Kenworthy

Photo: Flickr

Top Diseases in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina is located in southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Croatia. The country declared sovereignty in 1991 and independence from Yugoslavia in 1992. After signing a 1995 peace agreement, the country is about half the Bosniak/Croat Federation, and the other half the Bosnian-Serb Republika Srpska. As of 2016, the life expectancy of the country’s 3.8 million inhabitants is 76.7 years, and only noncommunicable diseases are the most common causes of death. Here are the top diseases in Bosnia and Herzegovina:

Ischemic Heart Disease
Also known as coronary artery disease, ischemic heart disease is an illness consisting of decreased or restricted blood flow to the heart. In 2015, it was recorded as the most fatal of the top diseases in Bosnia and Herzegovina and had been for the last decade. To make matters worse, the prevalence of deaths by ischemic heart disease had increased by six percent.

Cerebrovascular Disease
A disease of cerebral circulation, deaths by cerebrovascular disease are the second most common cause of mortality in Bosnia and Herzegovina as of 2015. Although cerebrovascular disease was the second most common cause of death ten years previously as well, the prevalence of deaths by the disease had raised by 17.8 percent by 2015.

Cardiomyopathy
Defined as a condition in which the heart muscles become thick, enlarged or rigid, cardiomyopathy can lead to heart failure or arrhythmias. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, cardiomyopathy was reported to be the third most common cause of death in 2015, once again consistent with the previous ten years on record. However, unlike the more mild increase in deaths by ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease, the prevalence of deaths by cardiomyopathy had skyrocketed within the decade at a staggering 53.7 percent.

With all of the top diseases in Bosnia and Herzegovina concerning cardiovascular health, the country has become aware of the growing health epidemic and taken steps to address the issue. In 2000, Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the first European countries to celebrate the international holiday of World Heart Day. The implementation of The European Guidelines for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and the signing of the European Heart Health Charter in 2007 hope to address this issue. With such willingness to address cardiovascular health domestically, the world is sure to see a decrease in the current top diseases in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Shannon Golden

Photo: Flickr


Over the past 30 years, the Balkans have experienced levels of change and turmoil. The lack of stability in the region has resulted in high levels of poverty in the Balkans.

The Balkan Peninsula, or the Balkans, is a region in Eastern Europe with coastlines on the Mediterranean Sea, Adriatic Sea, Aegean Sea, and the Black Sea. The countries that make up the Balkans are Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania and Greece.

Not all of the countries in the peninsula are experiencing dramatic poverty problems. For instance, less than 10 percent of the population of Montenegro is in poverty. Overall, however, poverty in the Balkans expands to about one-fourth of the region’s population.

Albania has one of the lowest standards of living and the lowest per capita income in all of Europe. Twenty-five percent of its population lives on less than $2 per day.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, more than 15 percent of the population live in poverty. Croatia just broke through a recession that lasted until 2015. During the recession, the number of children in poverty rose by 50 percent. About one-fifth of Croatia’s population is considered poor.

Greece is in the middle of a longstanding economic crisis, on par with the Great Depression. During this time, jobs have dissipated and wages have decreased. Today, almost a quarter of Greece’s population is considered to be in conditions of severe deprivation.

Other regions experience their own financial difficulties. Kosovo was the poorest region of the former Yugoslavia, and declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. Years of political instability have left 30 percent of Kosovans in poverty. In addition, one-third of the population of Macedonia lives at or below the poverty line. The country faces high unemployment rates. In Serbia, one-fourth of the population is poor, and some of its southern regions lack basic infrastructures and public services.

Despite all of the economic issues in the Balkans, there are certainly signs of optimism, specifically the crime rate. Usually, high levels of poverty coincide with an increase in crime. However, this is not the case in the Balkans, which are regarded as some of the safest countries in all of Europe. Most of the countries are simply lacking the resources necessary to provide for their people. Assistance on an international level is imperative to lift these states out of poverty.

Dustin Jayroe

Photo: Flickr