COVID-19 WORSENED THE FINANCIAL SITUATION OF MORE THAN HALF OF THE HOUSEHOLDS IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
The UN PRESENTS RESULTS OF THE THIRD WAVE OF THE SOCIAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT OF COVID-19 IN BIH
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Sarajevo, June 23, 2022: The results of the third wave of the Survey "Social Impact Assessment of COVID 19 in BiH", conducted by UNDP and UNICEF during February and March 2022, were presented today in Sarajevo.
The Survey, conducted periodically since 2020, covers the areas of: physical and mental health; access to services; the economic situation; coping strategies to meet basic needs in a crisis; education and online learning; interpersonal relationships and well-being; public perceptions of crisis response and use of the Internet; and e-commerce and digital services.
Based on a representative sample of 1802 households, data show the continuing negative impact of the crisis on those who are already most vulnerable, such as people living below the poverty line. Particularly alarming is the worsening financial situation in 52 percent of surveyed households, a significant increase compared to 43.6 per cent reported in the previous wave of the survey. Presented data also show an increase in poverty, debt, reduced food intake, and worsening inequality with a disproportionate effect on the most vulnerable. As many as 62.7 percent of the respondents who stated that they reduced food consumption were members of various vulnerable groups.
“This 3rd Household Survey demonstrates that urgent action is required to mitigate the worsening socio-economic impacts being felt by citizens across Bosnia and Herzegovina due to the COVID19 pandemic and the Ukraine war. Over the last year - from February 2021 to March 2022 - we have seen poverty rates and indebtedness rise, whilst inequalities have increased between those who have access to resources and those who do not. What is of serious concern, is that we are already seeing an even further deterioration in the financial and economic situation both globally and in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with rapidly escalating inflation especially for food and fuel prices. For example, the official price increase for food and non-alcoholic beverages in May 2022 exceeded 30% compared to the same period last year in the Federation of BiH. This impacts the most vulnerable people in society the most. It is an imperative for the authorities to take urgent action to implement socio-economic relief measures particularly given the looming winter on the horizon.”, said dr. Ingrid Macdonald, UN resident Coordinator in BiH.
“The data in this report show that the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are still being felt and have been further reinforced by the recent rise in food and energy prices. As we now clearly see, the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic compound an already pre-existing fragility in Bosnia and Herzegovina. To make up for the loss of resilience in both the public and private spheres, it is necessary to invest in systematic and robust social protection, social safety nets and public service providers ", said Stephen Kinloch-Pichat, Resident Representative a.i. in BiH.
Mental health was identified as one of the key areas in which the population faces problems, with 35.6 percent of the respondents expressing concern about the deterioration of their mental health, which manifests itself as burnout, fear, anxiety and sleep deprivation.
The COVID-19 crisis has taken a disproportionate toll on women. In the labor market, those sectors that experienced the largest job losses are those with the highest female employment rates. Working mothers have been further burdened by increased needs for childcare during the closure of preschools and schools, 63.3% of women declaring spending more time than usual on house chores and 70% of women with children saying that, as a result of the pandemic, they had to devote more time to their children than usual.
Research findings show that access to education has been difficult during the pandemic, especially for the most vulnerable children. Online teaching was challenging due to organization issues and experiencing a lower quality of interaction between students and teachers in an online environment. The absence of technological of a sufficient number of connection devices and/or their joint use by several members of the household for distance work, learning and homework, proved particularly stressful.
The data show a correlation between the deteriorating financial situation in households and the negative consequences of COVID-19 in terms of nutrition, escalation of violence and impact on mental health on families and children.
“The pandemic has had significant impact on the access to basic services including health and education for children, families and young people. During the time of this survey, the overall situation and access to services have started improving, still the access is not equitable to all. Globally and in BiH, mental health requires more attention, especially for children and adolescents, as was revealed by the household survey. Therefore, during this recovery period, a concerted effort is required to improve the access to health including mental health, education, and social services with particular focus on the most vulnerable families and communities. ", said Dr. Rownak Khan, UNICEF Representative in BiH.
It is extremely worrying that more than a quarter of all people surveyed are seriously thinking about leaving the country. This percentage rose from 24 % to 26 % between the two waves of the survey. Those who are considering leaving are mostly living in cities and aged between 18 and 50.
With people in Bosnia and Herzegovina being faced with rapidly changing living conditions and future uncertainty, UN agencies are committed to working together and in a synchronized way to support the building of a more resilient society, enable dialogue with all partners in the social sphere, and ensure full recovery, so that no one is left behind.
The full report can be downloaded at:
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