SECO’s interventions in Bosnia and Herzegovina are complementary to those of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Twenty-five years after the end of the conflict, political instability and accumulated structural problems continue to mark the country context. To support the country in overcoming some of the main challenges, SECO contributes to strengthening the public infrastructure in urban areas and promoting job creation in the private sector.
In recent years, Bosnia and Herzegovina has sought to install economic, political and social reforms, bringing the country closer to EU standards. However, there are still some huge challenges to overcome. The country consists of two separate entities (Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska) and an independent district (Brcko), resulting in complex and inefficient state structures.
Poverty remains alarming
Bosnia and Herzegovina entered the new millennium with a thriving economy, but growth in per capita income has stagnated. This is due in part to a skills gap in the private sector, low investment and high unemployment. The current COVID-19 pandemic has hit the economy hard, resulting in the severest drop in economic growth in decades.
Consequently, poverty remains alarming with one fifth of the population living in absolute poverty. Poverty is also visible in the population’s insufficient access to basic services: only 3 out of 4 people have access to safe drinking water and as little as 41 percent of the population is connected to a public sewage system.
What are SECO’s objectives?
The overarching goal of Switzerland is that women and men in Bosnia and Herzegovina engage to shape government policy at all levels and benefit from effective, sustainable and inclusive public services, economic growth, higher employability and better healthcare for all. Furthermore, Switzerland maintains a migration partnership with Bosnia and Herzegovina. SECO mainly focuses on:
- High quality and equitable public services in particular in the water sector
SECO is working to improve public services at the local level. To build up urban infrastructure, for example, it encourages investment in sustainable clean water and sanitation systems. The objective is that local governments provide such services in a climate-smart, disaster-resilient and inclusive way.
- Fostering a favourable business environment, entrepreneurship and the creation of more decent income opportunities for women and men
Entrepreneurship and innovative start-ups are crucial for the creation of jobs. Switzerland therefore advocates government policies that encourage and safeguard entrepreneurs. The Swiss programme contributes to foster quality employment through youth entrepreneurship and by simplifying the creation of start-ups.
SECO and the SDC, for which Bosnia and Herzegovina is a priority country, jointly define and implement the Swiss Cooperation Strategy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. From 2021 to 2024, a total of some CHF 77 million is foreseen for Swiss transition cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina, of which SECO will contribute around CHF 10 million.