U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and Herzegovina is a culturally and ethnically rich country situated in the western Balkan peninsula. The U.S. has contributed more than $1.7 billion in foreign aid to the country since 1996, and the country has allocated this aid to rebuilding itself as a nation after the effects of a devastating civil war.

Bosnia and Herzegovina was involved in an ethnically-motivated civil war from 1992 to 1995. It was not until 1995 that NATO intervened and a ceasefire (the Dayton Accords) was negotiated that finally ended the conflict. Today, the Dayton Accords are still in force.

How USAID Has Helped Bosnia and Herzegovina

The millions of dollars donated to the country have been allocated towards efforts of reconstruction, humanitarian assistance, economic development and military rebuilding. USAID assistance has had a large role in numerous projects and programs to get the country back on its feet and helping it become a thriving and economically stable country.

USAID has laid out in its official fact sheet its aid to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the following areas:

  • Rebuild
  • Create Jobs
  • Reduce Rural Poverty
  • Develop A Better Business Environment
  • Introduce a More Efficient Justice System
  • Increase Transparency and Accountability
  • Promote Tolerance and Acceptance
  • Support Marginalized and Vulnerable Groups

In 2016, the EU accepted Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application into the EU, but member states say the country should continue with reform, “including socioeconomic reforms, reforms in the area of rule of law and public administration.” Challenges including the country’s poor governance and an effort made by the Republika Srpska to move the country to secession has made its commitment to the EU-driven package harder to accomplish. Nevertheless, economic reforms made by Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to join the EU has led to it becoming one of the fastest growing economies in Eastern Europe.

How the U.S. Benefits From Foreign Aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina

According to the Department of State, “U.S. assistance will help BiH implement this reform package and improve government accountability and efficiency, trade with Europe, and inter-ethnic dialogue and reconciliation.” The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina by securing the country’s stability in the region.

With U.S. assistance, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina joining the EU would bring Bosnia and Herzegovina one step closer to joining NATO, creating a stronger alliance with the U.S. Bosnia and Herzegovina has been vocal since 2008 about its desire to join NATO. Not only did the country join the Partnership for Peace, but has contributed to NATO projects in Afghanistan. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s cooperation with NATO will not only provide defense for the U.S., but will also increase trade between the two countries.

Continued efforts from Bosnia and Herzegovina to reform its social, political, and economic situation in order to enter the EU would allow the EU’s organizations, such as its Common Security and Defense Policy, to ensure that the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

– Emma Martin

Photo: Flickr

Bosnian War factsThe Bosnian War was incredibly brutal and impacted millions of lives. Below are 10 important Bosnian War facts: how it began, what happened and how it ended.

Top 10 Bosnian War Facts

  1. In the 1980s the decline of the Yugoslavian economy began to affect the state of affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. People wanted to see the end of communism, and various ethnic groups were vying for control of the area. By the early 1990s, the Serbs, Muslims and Croats living in Bosnia each desired to appropriate Bosnia and Herzegovina’s territory for their own countries and take control of the government and political field.
  2. Bosnian Croats and Muslims feared that Serbian president Slobodan Milošević, the leader of the Socialist Party of Serbia, would take their land, so they called for the independence of Herzeg-Bosnia. Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence on March 3, 1992. It was recognized by the U.S. and the European Community on April 7, 1992.
  3. On April 6, 1992, the Serbs began the Siege of Sarajevo, which lasted until Feb. 29, 1996. The Serbian paramilitary forces began the siege by holding positions inside the city and in the hills surrounding Sarajevo. By the first week of May, the Serbs had surrounded the whole city. This cut Sarajevo off from food, medicine, water, electricity, fuel and other supplies. The Serbs began firing on Sarajevo with advanced artillery but faced heavy defense from those mobilized with weapons within the city. Because the Serbs were facing opposition, they began to terrorize the city with intense gunfire and snipers. The Siege of Sarajevo lasted for 47 months and remains the longest siege in modern history.
  4. With Sarajevo, as well as several other cities isolated by force, the supply of food, utilities and communication became extremely limited and spread thin throughout the territory. This caused many cases of malnutrition and many citizens lost up to 33 pounds while some others lost their lives due to lack of access to supplies.
  5. Bosnian Serbs began the ethnic cleansing of large areas occupied by non-Serbs, primarily Muslims. The genocide destroyed entire villages and thousands of Bosnians were forced out of their homes and taken to detention camps where they were raped, tortured, deported or killed. The Serbians used rape in the Bosnian War as a tactic to increase terror.
  6. One of the most lethal Bosnian War facts came when Gen. Ratko Mladic led Serbian troops in capturing Srebrenica and killed more than 8,000 Muslims. Srebrenica had been previously declared by the U.N. as a safe area. The U.N. later indicted Radovan Karadžić, the orchestrator of the attack on Sarajevo, and General Mladic for genocidal war crimes.
  7. The Bosnian government was unable to access updated and necessary weaponry that the Serbian and Croatian armies maintained due to an international arms embargo imposed throughout the Bosnian War.
  8. Although the U.N. Protection Force occasionally sent troops to supervise humanitarian aid and protect declared safe areas, the U.N. overall refused to intercede in the Bosnian War.
  9. After NATO’s negotiations in Dayton, Ohio, in 1995, a final peace agreement was imposed and declared to bring an end to the Bosnian War. NATO enforced this through airstrikes until the leaders agreed to the ceasefire and signed the Dayton Peace Accords in Paris on Dec. 14, 1995.
  10. Throughout the Bosnian War, more than 250,000 people lost their lives and many more were displaced from their homes.

Even today, as a result of these Bosnian War facts, the territory remains highly divided between two sections: Muslim-Croat and the Serbian Republic. Both sections face a continuous fight against poverty, unemployment and ethnic discord.

Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in Bosnia and HerzegovinaPeople often sing the praises of microfinance as a means of encouraging entrepreneurship and growth in developing countries. Without a doubt, microloans are a resourceful tool. With the encouragement of the international community, they have been used rather extensively to help improve the ease of credit access in Bosnia and Herzegovina. That being said, it is important to view microloans not as an economic panacea, but as a component of the overall financial sector that can and does affect other aspects of the developing economy.

The economic crisis that began in 2008 continues to affect credit access in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition to causing extended deflation, which hurts small businesses, it also left lending institutions very risk-averse, especially where small and medium-sized enterprises are concerned.

The situation is not all bad. There is an unusually large number of financial institutions in the country and the demand for credit is beginning to increase as the economy grows. This increase in demand is also caused by the growth of many small businesses. Unfortunately, conservative lending practices mean that while it would appear that would-be borrowers have plenty of options, it can still be difficult to get a loan. Additionally, high taxes and complicated regulations mean that there is a large informal sector in the country, further complicating the small business environment. Some of these informal operations are able to undercut their formal counterparts, making competition difficult and hampering people’s ability to get a loan.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is attempting to bring about change. Its Development Credit Authority Loan Guarantee facility backs up to 50 percent of the loan principal for borrowers deemed too risky for a regular loan. USAID is improving credit access in Bosnia and Herzegovina by enabling borrowers to secure financing who would otherwise be rejected.

However, it is important to consider how improving credit access in Bosnia and Herzegovina might have unintended impacts. This growth in access to microloans without broader changes in the macroeconomy has meant that while it is easier to secure financing to start a business, the same cannot be said for securing financing to grow an existing business.

While the international community has stepped in to encourage microloans, they have not done the same to encourage banks to make larger loans available to medium-sized enterprises seeking to grow. While many banks claim to offer this kind of financing, the reality is that many will only lend to the most exceptionally qualified applicants, and even then the rates and terms offered may simply not be feasible for the borrower.

This means that there is an ever-growing cohort of businesses in the country that are too large to benefit from microloans but too small or still too risky to borrow from domestic banks. This is a major hurdle to clear before credit access in Bosnia and Herzegovina can really be said to have improved.

It is also important to consider the impact that improved credit access in Bosnia and Herzegovina may have on education. One recent study found that 16 to 19-year-olds in Bosnia and Herzegovina whose parents received microfinancing for their family businesses were nine percent less likely to be regularly attending school. This figure jumped to 19 percent when the adults in the household had only a primary school education.

This is not to say that improving credit access in Bosnia and Herzegovina for small businesses isn’t a worthy endeavor. It most certainly is, and it can and does lift people out of poverty. However, it is important to also provide continued support and acknowledge the ways that this issue interacts with Bosnia and Herzegovina’s broader economic circumstances to ensure that this money is able to make a real difference.

– Michaela Downey

Photo: Google

sustainable agriculture in bosnia and herzegovina
Sustainable agriculture in Bosnia and Herzegovina is of utmost importance since the nation’s independence from Yugoslavia in 1992. Is status as a war-torn region ended after signing a peace treaty in December 1995, which enabled the formation of a complex state with two entities and one state district.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is comprised of hilly mountainous regions as well as fertile low-lands that are suitable for agriculture. It is one of the highest-ranking bio-diverse regions of Europe, as the region is comprised of various animal species and plants. This diversity helps make sustainable agriculture in Bosnia and Herzegovina achievable.

Agriculture is the backbone of the region’s rural sector and functions as an important aspect of the economy of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Agriculture constitutes about 20 percent of the total employment though, according to a study in 2017, post-war conditions and complex socio-economic structure has negatively impacted its development.

Land Resources and Best Practices in Agriculture

Total surface area suitable for cultivation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is about 1.6 million hectares. The land is segregated into three parts:

  • The valleys around the rivers Una, Sava, Vrbas, Bosna, Drina, Sana and Spreča (which consists of high quality soil) are suitable for production of vegetables, fruits and crops like wheat, barley, soybean, corn, plums, apples and pears. They also grow medicinal herbs and industrial crops, such as fibers which are used to manufacture clothing.
  • The highlands which are less suitable for large scale cultivation are used for cattle-breeding, animal-feed production, barley for breweries and potatoes.
  • The Mediterranean region of the country is mainly comprised of low land, which has favorable weather and is suitable for greenhouse and open space farming. These methods help the large-scale cultivation of crops, vegetables, citrus fruits, farming fresh water fish and bee keeping.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has seen a trend of sustainable farming since the foundation of Bosnian Environmental Technologies Association (BETA) in 2000. BETA initiated the concept of organic farming in the regional label, and with the support of other international agencies, the association enhanced the promotion of organic agriculture practices among farmers.

As of 2017, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a surface area of 576 hectares devoted to organic farming. This is a lower percentage compared to neighboring countries, but the number steadily increases with the certified organic farming organization of the area; thus, organic farming works helps increase the  overall levels of sustainable agriculture in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The following strategies have been adapted to increase the sustainability of agriculture in Bosnia and Herzegovina:

  • Conserving cultivable land through soil erosion prevention (via physical barriers around plants).
  • Protecting quality of soil by maintaining moisture content, restoring organic matter and reducing CO2 emission from the soil.
  • Maximizing the cultivation of crops through modern plantation and crop rotation technique, using weed management strategies and incorporating integrated pest management systems.
  • Providing expert knowledge and education to farmers on innovative farming practices and ways to protect the farmland against climate change.
  • Building of reservoirs to preserve water for irrigation and other uses of agriculture.
  • Changing policy in agricultural sector so that farmers receive more financial support for using modern technology, tax incentives for their investment and risk insurance for their farming practices.

The Bees and Improving Agricultural Growth

The beekeeping sector of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a component of organic farming that comprises almost 1 percent of the total agricultural production. According to a Bosnia and Herzegovina statistics agency, there are almost 350,000 bee colonies in the country which produce around 2500 – 3000 tons of honey per year.

Various strategies have been adapted post-war to increase sustainable agriculture in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina has fertile land and abundance of water bodies, but political tension between its two entities and lack of central governance deeply affects the prospect of agricultural growth of the country.

– Mahua Mitra

Photo: Flickr

cause of the bosnian warThe Bosnian War began in 1992 and lasted until 1995, though the cause of the Bosnian War has roots in World War II and its impact is still being felt in 2017. The war led to the deaths of around 100,000 people. It also spurred the genocide of at least 80 percent Bosnian Muslims, also called Bosniaks.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Balkan states of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia became a part of the People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, a communist country held together by its leader Josip Broz Tito. Part-Croat and part-Slovene, Tito checked both separatism and ethnic nationalism with stiff jail sentences.

Tito rebuilt Yugoslavia as a Communist federation of six equal republics, but the ethnic conflict was never far from the surface. Serbians disliked Tito’s recognition of the Macedonians and the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina as distinct nationalities. However, these bad relationships alone were not the cause of the Bosnian War. The collapse of Communism in the Balkan states was punctuated by Tito’s death in 1980. Following this, the Balkan states clamored for independence.

Slobodan Milosevic rose to power in Yugoslavia in 1986 as a lightning rod for nationalism. Milosevic was a leader who deliberately created conflict between Serbians, Croatians and Muslim Bosniaks (the three main ethnic groups in the region). Milosevic, also called “The Butcher of the Balkans” took advantage of the ethnic tensions that would be the cause of the Bosnian War.

Croatia and Slovenia fought alongside Germany and Austria in World War I, while Serbia fought alongside the allies. Because of this, Serbs regarded themselves as the dominant partners when they joined the Croats and Slovenes in 1918 to found the state what would be called Yugoslavia.

By using old grudges, stirring up nationalistic emotions, and inciting dreams of a “Greater Serbia,” a country made up of only Serbians, Milosevic succeeded in rallying support for himself. By 1971 in Bosnia, Muslims represented the largest single population group. In a 1991 census, Bosnia’s population of some four million was nearly half Bosniak.

Bosnia’s Serbs, led by a man named Radovan Karadzic and backed by Milosevic, resisted and threatened bloodshed when Bosnia proclaimed its independence in 1992. The Serbs wished to remain part of Yugoslavia and create a nation only for Serbians.

Two days after the European Community and the United States recognized Bosnia’s independence, the Serbian Democratic party — whose members wanted to be part of the “Greater Serbia” — launched an offensive with the bombardment of Bosnia’s capital, Sarajevo.

The Bosnian War was marked by ethnic cleansing, with thousands of civilians killed and millions displaced. On July 11, 1995, Serbian forces attacked and overwhelmed the city of Srebrenica, a city the U.N. had designated as a safe haven in 1993. The forces separated the Bosniak civilians at Srebrenica, putting the women and girls on buses and sending them away while killing the men and boys on the spot or bussing them off to mass killing sites. An estimated 8,000 people died in the massacre.

Following this, awareness and international outcry over the war reached its zenith. In November 1995, the United States sponsored peace talks between the Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, resulting in the creation of a federalized Bosnia divided between a Croat-Bosniak federation and a Serb republic.

Tribunals over the war crimes committed during the war were established 23 years ago. Serbia only acknowledged the massacre of Srebrenica in 2004. Milosevic was jailed in 2002 on 66 counts of genocide and war crimes and died in his cell in March of 2006.

Last month in 2017, a Croatian general charged with war crimes had his sentence of 20 years upheld, and instead of submitting himself he chose to drink poison in the middle of the courtroom.

– Sam Bramlett

Photo: Flickr

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

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