The Reality of Life Today for the Children of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Poverty, social exclusion and the consequences of system gaps and weaknesses are the three main and interlinked challenges that need to be addressed in order to ensure the fulfilment of the rights of children and the delivery of social services in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
PovertyDespite doubling the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita between 2000 and 2007 one fifth of the population continues to live in poverty. Families with three or more children, women, Romany and other ethnic minorities, internally displaced persons (IDP), children with disabilities and youth remain particularly vulnerable. In order to try and cope with the ever increasing cost of living in BiH many households have little choice but to resort to reducing their normal expenditure on food and other essentials of life. Laws covering a wide range of child protection measures and rights exist.Yet many are not enforced due to lack of funding, inadequate procedures, standards and referral practices as well as a general lack of coordination. Families with three or more children are particularly vulnerable: two thirds are poor and the depth of their poverty is more severe.
The war caused significant damage to the social structure in BiH and many of the consequences remain today. More than 50% of the population experiences some form of social exclusion, discrimination or stigma, ranging across the social strata. The root causes include structural barriers to inadequate services, limited civil society participation, discriminatory attitudes within communities and institutionalised political and administrative fragmentation along ethnic lines.
A comprehensive analysis of the data collected during the course of the UNICEF research “Divided Schools in BiH” shows that there are pronounced differences in BiH and different views prevail with regard to all of the key issues related to education in the country. The phenomenon of divided and mono-ethnic schools is not the only problem related to education. There are numerous parallel problems, such as the existence of a number of curriculums, the lack of respect for the legal provisions and the fear that joint education of children from different ethnic backgrounds might lead to a loss of national identity.
System Gaps and Weaknesses
The country has limited capacity to provide basic data on children, such as those without parental care, children with disabilities and victims of domestic violence, which further inhibits the reform process. Perceived corruption is also an important obstacle to social development in BiH.
Facts on Data Collection
• Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS). In order to address this fundamental lack of information on the status of children, every 4 years UNICEF supports the implementation of one of the largest household qualitative surveys in BiH. The aim of the MICS is to collect comprehensive data on the living conditions of women and children. The most recent survey was conducted in 2007 and the next one is planned for 2011.
Facts on Social Exclusion
Romany is the largest minority in BiH with an estimated population of 70,000. UNICEF research shows that:
Facts on Poverty
640.000 or 18.56% population live in absolute poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina.UNICEF estimates that approximately 170,000 children in BiH are poor; the majority come from minority groups, such as Romany or Internally Displaced Persons - IDP.