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