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

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 non-communicable 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 6%.

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% by 2015.

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%.

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 hopes to address this issue. With such a 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