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Bosnia and Herzegovina

Strengthening Active Citizenship After a Traumatic Civil War: Dilemmas and Ideas in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Duncan Green's picture

I went to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) last week to help Oxfam Italia develop advocacy and campaign skills among local civil society organizations. They have their work cut out.

Firstly, there is a crisis of trust between the public and CSOs, which are poorly regulated, often seen as little more than ‘briefcase NGOs’, only interested in winning funding, and under constant attack from politicians. Many CSOs seem pretty disillusioned, faced with a shrinking donor pot and public hostility.

I think there’s a strong case for the CSOs to take the lead in putting their house in order, practicing what they preach on transparency and accountability, and working with government to sort out the legitimate organizations from ones that have registered (there are some 10,000 in the country) but do nothing, (or worse).

Meanwhile, Oxfam is working with some of the more dynamic ones to develop the advocacy and campaign skills of what is still a maturing civil society network (after decades of state socialism, followed by a devastating war, and then an influx of donor cash that had mixed results). Two days of conversation and debate with some great organizations working on everything from disability rights to enterprise development to youth leadership identified some big issues and dilemmas:
 

Political Efficacy and Citizen Participation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Antonio Lambino's picture

A post from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), somewhere in the heart of the medieval section of this deeply multicultural city. I’m here with a team organized by the World Bank Institute (WBI), working with local partners on preparing a capacity building program for low income municipalities on increasing citizens’ participation in local governance. Colleagues from the WBI facilitated sessions on participatory budgeting and citizens’ feedback mechanisms. Two of us from the World Bank’s Development Communication Division contributed a few modules on participatory communication as a cross-cutting issue in enabling and sustaining citizen participation in local governance.