Bosnia and Herzegovina

Our work in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Published: Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Changed: Monday, February 17, 2014

Bosnia-Herzegovina faces huge challenges, due to political and ethnic divisions. However, opinion polls and statements from national politicians show a strong desire to become a EU candidate, and later on a member state. Working for a rapprochement with the EU is therefore a way to promote the country's political and economic development.

The objective of Sweden's cooperation in Bosnia is a democratic, fair and sustainable development as well as to support progress towards the EU. In most of the projects and programmes, we cooperate with other donors from countries like Switzerland, USA, Germany, Austria or international organisations like the EU and EU development banks, the World Bank, the UN Development Programme  (UNDP) and UNICEF. Sweden's contribution to the reform process amounts to approximately SEK 170 million per year during the strategy period 2011-2014, and is channelled through some 30 projects and programmes.

Part of our support is focused on strengthening the overall state administration, which is done by supporting the Public Administration Reform that aims to increase efficiency, transparency and democracy, as well as reduce corruption and nepotism. Together with other donors, Sweden provides support to a fund focused on key reform areas and that is coordinated at the state level and implemented by local Bosnian institutions.

More efficient judicial system

The Swedish support to the legal and judicial sector is partly directed to the National Courts Administration, which appoints judges and controls the judiciary to streamline the judicial system. Sweden's support also aims to increase focus on capacity building in terms of dealing with war crimes, organised and economic crime and corruption. We also provide financial support to help build a state prison that will contribute to better conditions for inmates.

By computerizing the administration at all the country's courts, the efficiency and speed to handle cases in the justice system have increased. Support is also provided to theInternational Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP),  which handles the identification of human remains after the Srebrenica massacre and other war crimes.

Development at the municipal level

UNDP is coordinating the capacity building and training of municipal officials. The development of two Bosnian municipal unions is another example of Swedish support to the local administration. Activities carried out at this level have in many cases proven to bring very good results.

Many organisations contribute to greater democracy

It is crucial to support the development of civil society, which has an important role to monitor politicians and authorities. Vulnerable groups are able to organise themselves and demand their rights. Sweden's support to civil society is partly channelled through Swedish organisations such as "My Rights", the Living History Forum and Save the Children, as well as through local contracts with for instance the Kvinna till Kvinna foundation  and Civil Rights Defenders  (former Swedish Helsinki Committee). Another objective is to help local organisations become more independent in terms of expertise in finance and management, and to strengthen local ownership. Support is also given to the Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo for their anti-corruption work. Sweden also cooperates directly with the Bosnian authorities to improve gender equality  through a "Gender Action Plan" in the public sector.

Economic growth for long-term development

Increasing employment and improving conditions for growth of small and medium-sized enterprises are important for a country that practically lost its business world with the collapse of socialism 20 years ago. In collaboration with USAID, we are funding two major projects that help small and medium-sized companies increase their production, employ more people and find new markets. Read about the FIRMA project  with a focus on tourism, forestry and metal and FARMA, which focuses on the food and agriculture sector.

We also work a lot with local development organisations operating in regions with high unemployment. The activities aim to influence the structural factors that are important to the business environment, employment, women's economic participation and to get access to European markets.

In 2013 the Challenge   was launched - a pioneering project in business collaboration through which companies from Sweden or Bosnia and Herzegovina are given the opportunity to compete for financial support for their business ideas. The first application period resulted in 570 applications from micro- and small enterprises. In spring 2014, eight project ideas will be selected and in April, it's time for the next call. The initiative is part of Sida's business collaboration initiative where Sida actively work to include private actors in areas where development objectives and interestes within the provate sector merge.

Sustainable Infrastructure and better environment

Ensuring access to water and sanitation and a safe waste management are some of the fundamental tasks of each municipality. We therefore support the capacity building and investment in wastewater treatment plants in some 30 municipalities, together with the international development banks EIB, EBRD and the World Bank. Initiatives to improve waste management started in early 2010, including efforts to build up the management of collection, transportation, disposal and recycling of waste.

Reconstruction and return of refugees

After the war, our largest area of assistance in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been the reconstruction of housing for returning refugees. Since 1995, Sweden has invested SEK 1.5 billion, which has resulted in a total of 16 400 houses being rebuilt, and enabled 71,000 refugees to return home. In order to contribute to decent living conditions, we have supported the reconstruction through integrated area programmes that include jobs and infrastructure. That programme was completed in early 2008. Since then, we prioritize democracy and human rights.

Read more about developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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