Fact Sheet: Supporting Youth in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Challenge
Youth are an enormous resource for development and a key component for peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Decisions they make and opportunities they have for education, training, employment, and civic participation will affect their country’s development outcome for years to come. But youth face significant challenges to participating in democratic and economic processes in BiH. USAID supports BiH youth from different ethnic backgrounds through a spectrum of activities to engage them in developing their communities and country. 
Our Programs
Our programs provide them with economic opportunities to address widespread unemployment and increase their civic participation in political and community spheres to help them develop their voices, connect, and be heard. Some of our recent and current programming and achievements are described below.
Reconciliation/Conflict Mitigation  
  • Fair Play, Fair Childhood: Bringing BiH Children Together Through Sports

April 2014 – November 2016.  Total Funding: $500,000.  Implementing Partners: Youth Sports Games; BiH Basketball Assn

This project built sustainable peace by involving children and youth, and thus parents and spectators, from divided communities in sports events throughout the country all year long. The project helped build a more cohesive, inter-connected society, free of mistrust and apprehension of others. We helped establish and supported a basketball league in 12 cities, and support organization of 10 other youth sports activities in 28 municipalities, and also brought these young people together at national events. In 2015, the BiH basketball team of youth (16 and under) – with members from all three main ethnic groups – won the European Championship for their age. Nine members were from local teams supported by this project. In just one year of this three-year project, USAID promoted youth sportsmanship, friendship and acceptance through sports activities in 30 towns, where a total of 40,660 boys and girls competed in basketball, volleyball, soccer, tennis, chess, and other activities, as some 100,000 spectators (parents, coaches, citizens) came together to cheer them on.

  • Enhancing and Advancing Basic Learning and Education in BiH (ENABLE)

    September 2016 – September 2018.  Total Funding: $1 million.  Implementing Partner: Save the Children BiH

    ENABLE focuses on improving teacher training to increase students' learning. Because of education’s links to other powerful drivers of development, investing in improving learning for young students will provide the foundation for a more stable, prosperous, and democratic country. Strengthening key competencies and life skills among students and their teachers is central to improving the system as a whole.

  • PRO-Future: Trust, Understanding, and Responsibility for the Future

    September 2013 – September 2017.  Total Funding: $4.7 million ($4.1 million USAID; 14% from implementing partner)

    Implementing Partner: Catholic Relief Services

    USAID rebuilds trust and confidence among citizens of all ethnic backgrounds, with a special focus on youth. The project engages BiH leaders and citizens to help them change their own mindsets, beliefs and attitudes and then transform their communities. It organized youth camps and conferences, art competitions, visits to religious sites, small grants, a peace caravan, and an online Small School of Peace-Building. USAID provided a small grant to fund multi-ethnic youth initiatives in 54 municipalities and organized youth peace-building camps in Mostar and Sanski Most.  

  • Education for a Just Society

    July 2013 – December 2016 (project closed).  Total Funding: $1.3 million (10% matching funds from Open Society Fund) 

    Implementing Partner: Center for Educational Initiatives Step by Step and proMENTE

    USAID engaged over 2,000 students from 18 communities in activities in which they spoke and learned about each other’s communities and developed tolerance, acceptance, and belonging. The activity trained 493 students in social justice to help them recognize and combat prejudice and discrimination. Youth from eight schools designed and organized anti-discrimination campaigns.

Civic Participation
  • Civil Society Sustainability Project

    September 2013 – August 2018.  Total Funding: $9.4 million. 

    Implementing Partners: Centers for Civil Initiatives and the Center for Civil Society Promotion

    To address two main problems for BiH youth – employment and education – USAID supports and strengthens youth-based civil society organizations (CSOs) and helps them conduct targeted, visible advocacy campaigns to improve their opportunities in BiH. The assisted CSOs advocate for more transparent and efficient government budget allocations that support youth employment programs and for harmonization of the BiH higher education system with real labor market needs. Advocacy efforts of CSO Youth Communication Center resulted in the Republika Srpska government’s adoption of a Youth Policy 2016-2020 and a Strategy for Education 2016-2020, linking education with labor market needs. Another supported CSO, the Institute for Youth Development KULT, improved procedures and increased the focus on first-time employment in the Federation of BiH’s new employment program. 

Workforce Development and Entrepreneurship 
  • Partnership for Innovation

    August 2011 - December 2016 (project closed). Total Funding: $4.2 million. Implementing Partner: Education Dev. Center

    USAID increased job opportunities for youth through workforce development programs that emphasize information and communications technology (ICT). USAID partnered with small and medium-sized companies and training centers in seven regions (Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Mostar, Tuzla, Prijedor, Tesanj/Teslic, and Bijeljina) to execute nine internship cycles and six trainings for youth in advanced ICT programming. A total of 569 unemployed youth completed the programs, 116 of which found employment following participation. These project-designed ICT internships have been accepted as the valid coursework at three universities in Mostar and Sarajevo.