Over the last 17 years, the World Bank Group has approved 70 projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, totaling more than $1.7 billion. This assistance has included IDA Credits ($1.43 billion), IDA Grants ($25 million), Global Environment Facility (GEF) Grants ($23.9 million) and IBRD loans ($295 million). From 1996-2002 much of this work was geared toward post-conflict reconstruction, focusing on infrastructure, roads, energy, schools, and hospitals. Since that time, the partnership has expanded and focus areas now include: agriculture, environment, health, social safety and employment, local infrastructure and private sector development.
Some areas of development in Bosnia and Herzegovina include:
Agriculture: Although the share of agriculture in the BH economy has decreased to less than 10% over the last decade, the sector nonetheless remains important for employment and as a socioeconomic buffer. Approximately 20% of the population in BH is employed in this sector. Close proximity to the EU, a moderate climate, and abundant water resources give BH a comparative advantage in this sector, particularly for niche products. However, the country is not taking full advantage of this and it continues to struggle with EU standards. The World Bank Group is working with BH to strengthen the agencies for veterinary services, health and phytosanitary services, and food safety in the country. The Agriculture and Rural Development Project assists BH in strengthening its institutions to deliver more efficient and effective agricultural services and accelerate the country’s eligibility to access support under the EU Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance for Rural Development (IPARD). In addition, the World Bank Group is also supporting the Irrigation Development Project which is financing the rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure in both BH entities in some of the most productive agricultural areas of the country. The project finances primarily works but also provides support to the formation of Water User Associations where appropriate and develops the institutional set up to ensure adequate operations and maintenance and funding of the systems in a sustainable manner.
Environment: The World Bank portfolio in BH includes a number of projects that contribute to the environmentally sustainable use of natural resources. The portfolio has a strong drive toward improving management and the use of natural resources, and ensuring environmental sustainability through greener project implementation and cleaner production. The Second Solid Waste Management Project helps establish new sanitary landfills and municipal waste management regions that are improving environmental management and the sustainability of previously common single-municipality dumpsites. Furthermore, municipal wastewater is one of the key pollutants in BH, and the World Bank is financing construction or reconstruction of nine wastewater treatment facilities through three different projects: the Sarajevo Wastewater Project, the Neretva and Trebisnjica Management Project, and the Water Quality Protection Project. It is important to note that prior to the interventions under these projects, only 5–6 percent of total municipal wastewater in the country was treated before being released into rivers, which further downstream are used for water supply, irrigation, and recreation. It is estimated that following completion of the three projects on wastewater treatment plants at least 30% of the total municipal wastewater generated will be treated prior to release. The Bank will support sustainable forest and landscape management through the recently approved GEF project. Integrated river basin management approaches in line with the EU Directive will be addressed for the Neretva, Trebišnjica, and Drina rivers.
Health: Although BH authorities have implemented reforms to improve the health sector, the health system in the country remains very fragmented. Total expenditures in this sector have steadily increased and are now estimated at about 10.9 percent of GDP. The recent implementation of the family medical care model represents a major reform, with 75 percent of service users now expressing their satisfaction with this model. The World Bank Group has been working with BH to continue these reforms through the Health Sector Enhancement Project. As part of this project more than 1,100 practicing physicians and more than 1,580 nurses have completed a rigorous program to provide family medicine care. More than 600 physicians have also earned a Family Medicine Specialization. It is estimated that by the project’s completion in 2014 up to 70% of the population in BH will be covered by family medicine teams.
Private Sector Development: BH is hindered by one of the least friendly business environments in the region. The World Bank Group is responding to this situation in the country through the implementation of several programs designed to improve business environment and investment climate, and support private sector development in order to stimulate job creation in the country. The Enhancing Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Access to Finance Project has so far supported 131 companies in accessing credit during this period of constraint. More than 4,000 jobs have been saved and 1,120 new jobs have been created by this project.
Augmenting this work is the Social Safety Nets and Employment Support Project, which is helping to improve the quality of data needed for policy-making purposes and to improve the targeting of social benefits in the country. The project also supported job-brokerage services and has achieved the objective of extending job-brokerage services to 10,000 active job seekers among hard-to-employ categories (disabled, long-term unemployed, veterans, youth etc…).