Bosnia and Herzegovina

SOS Children’s Villages ensures that children grow up with the care, protection and relationships they need to become their strongest selves (photo: SOS Children’s Villages Bosnia and Herzegovina).

Located on the Balkan Peninsula in south-east Europe, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is home to 3.3 million people, including around 99,000 internally displaced persons and 18,000 refugees. Around 49% of the population lives in urban centres while 51% of the population lives in rural areas. Bosnia and Herzegovina is experiencing one of the most rapidly shrinking and ageing populations in the world. The main reason for this is that many families and young people are emigrating in search of better opportunities for themselves and their children.

SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1998.

Children are at risk

There are over 600,000 children and young people under the age of 18, accounting for nearly one fifth of the population. About 60% of young people live in rural areas, where the access to basic services and employment opportunities is more limited than in urban centres. Youth unemployment rates exceeds 40% and at least 22% of young people are not in employment, education, or training. This hampers their future prospects and increases the risk that they will live in poverty.
1 in 5
Children live in poverty

Child poverty

At 16%, unemployment is high in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Consequently, 17% of the population lives in poverty. Children are disproportionately affected, with around 20% living in poverty. In addition, approximately 50% of the population are at risk of falling below the poverty line, with 74% of children facing material deprivation. As a result, children in these families live precariously on the margins of society.

4 in 5
Young children miss out on early education


While access to primary education and secondary education is high, early childhood education is not available to all children. At 25% preschool enrolment (children aged 3 to 6 years) is the lowest in Europe, with vulnerable children less able to access early education. Early childhood education can be particularly beneficial for children growing up in poverty. It improves their social and cognitive development, and promotes their social inclusion.

1 in 2
Children experience violence


More than half of children under 15 experience violent forms of discipline, with 40% subjected to physical punishment and 42% to psychological aggression. In addition, the country has one of the highest incidence rates of children’s exposure to sexual violence, with 19% of 11-16 years olds having already experienced sexual contact. The impact of violence on children can be profound, leaving them with a range of both physical and emotional harm.

Together we can make a difference for children in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Adults and children
Are supported in the community
Children and adults
Attend our kindergartens and trainings
Grow up in our care
Young people
Are supported on their way to independence
Dragena is studying social work and also taking part in the Youth Empowerment Enabling Prospects project. With the help of her mentor, she can attend trainings and get individual support to improve her skills. “Young people without parental care, like me, really need this type of concrete support…It helps me see my future more clearly and positively, “says Dragena (photo: K. Ilievska).

Working together for sustainable development

In 2015, leaders from 193 countries committed to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This 15 year plan aims to improve the lives of people by ending poverty, fighting inequality and protecting the planet.
GOAL 1: End poverty
SOS Children’s Villages supports families and communities to keep families together and to help them break out of the cycle of poverty.
GOAL 4: Ensure quality education for all
Every child and young person SOS Children’s Villages supports has access to education, from kindergarten right up to vocational training or university.
GOAL 8: Equal job opportunities for all
SOS Children’s Villages supports young people in developing the skills and self-confidence they need to find decent work and train parents so that they can have a stable income.
GOAL 10: Reduce inequalities
SOS Children’s Villages works to keep children safe by promoting peaceful and inclusive communities. We provide training on children’s rights and positive parenting. .
GOAL 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies
We advocate laws and practices that ensure social inclusion and protection for children and young people without parental care or from marginalized households.

Let’s keep on protecting children and young people!

Many children have been able to find a safe and secure home. With your help, we can continue to change their lives