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. In addition, young people from BiH have recently left their homeland to become fighters for extremists in Syria and Iraq, and there are few options or preventive measures in place to dissuade others from following in their footsteps.
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 them are described below.
- The Fair Play, Fair Childhood: Bringing BiH Children Together Through Sports project will build 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 helps build a more cohesive, inter-connected society, free of mistrust and apprehension of others. We helped establish and continue to support a basketball league in 12 cities, and support organization of 10 other youth sports activities in 28 municipalities, and also bring them 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. (Visit www.igremladih.ba for details.)
- Our Community-based Approach to Supporting Youth activity is a pilot project to counter divisive nationalist and religious rhetoric, reduce youth disenfranchisement and engage youth in community initiatives to mitigate pressures that lead to violent extremism and radicalization. The pilot will initially be implemented in six at-risk communities in which there is evidence of young people being recruited to be foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq.
- The Education for a Just Society project changes the educational system to reflect a vision of a society that promotes peace and reconciliation and encourages all children to envision and build peaceful futures. Participants will become leaders and provide the scaffolding for systemic change. (Visit www.coi-stepbystep.ba for details.)
- The Trust-Understanding-Responsibility for the Future (PRO-Future) project 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. (Visit www.crs.org for details.
- The Peace Education on Location project organizes travelling schools in three regions to promote reconciliation among youth of different ethnic, political, and religious backgrounds and allay the harsh attitudes that cause conflict. (Visit www.helcommrs.org for details.)
- The Civil Society Sustainability Project supports youth-based civil society organizations (CSOs) to enhance their organizational capacities, strengthen their position as youth-led CSOs and help them conduct targeted, highly visible advocacy campaigns. These efforts target two main problems for BiH youth – employment and education. 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. (Visit www.cci.ba for details.)
Workforce Development and Entrepreneurship
- The Growth-Oriented Local Development project works with local development agencies, municipal youth departments, technical colleges, schools and institutes to identify and implement vocational education programs to train youth in skills suitable to the local economy. (Visit www.goldproject.ba for details.)
- Through our Partnership for Innovation project we offer internship and work-readiness programs in the information, communications and technology (ICT) sector to enhance entrepreneurship and employment among young market entrants in BiH. By the end of the project, the project will have completed 24 internship programs in four cities, eight work-readiness courses, and 15 advanced software programming trainings for 2,000 youth. More than 300 young people will have obtained ICT jobs after participating in these programs. (Visit www.innovation.ba for details.)
Last updated: October 08, 2015