Habitat for Humanity moves into Bosnia and Herzegovina
Habitat for Humanity added Bosnia and Herzegovina to the list of its countries at the end of 2010 through partnering with a local microfinance organization. There, reconstruction of damaged and ruined houses is a pressing problem.
Bosnia and Herzegovina was a part of the former Yugoslavia and suffered much damage in the civil wars of the 1990s. In 1991, there were over 1 million houses in almost 7,000 cities and towns. The war destroyed almost half of them. Over 450,000 houses were partially or completely destroyed with almost 80 percent of homes being unlivable, according to the official data.
Since the 1995 Dayton peace accords, the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina face the dual problems of rebuilding a war-torn economy and introducing market reforms to a formerly centrally planned economy. Many refugees and displaced people are still waiting to return to their damaged homes. In 2005, over 47,500 families registered with the state authorities for reconstruction and return aid.
Habitat for Humanity offers an affordable solution to the families. It partnered LOK, one of the leading microcredit organizations in the country operating in both the Republica Srpska, mainly populated by ethnic Serbs, and in the Federation, mainly populated by Bosniaks and Croats. Through LOK, two types of housing loans are offered to low-income households. One of them finances repairs in private houses. The second one is available to residents of apartment blocks for energy-efficient upgrades. Loan amounts, terms and repayment conditions allow families to improve their living conditions without shouldering unbearably heavy financial burdens.
Kenan and Selma Sejfoski from Zenica, the industrial center of Bosnia and Herzegovina, are among the first families to partner with Habitat and LOK in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They couple raises two sons, 16-year-old Jasmin and 13-year-old Almir. They all live in a small house together with Selma’s mother. Kenan is in the military and daily commutes four hours to Mostar to his post.
For a long time the family lived in a one-room house, as they could not afford anything else. Recently, they started building a bigger house next to the old one; however lacked funds to complete the work.
The family had a loan from LOK and through this relationship heard about Habitat’s housing loans. The offer of an affordable home-improvement loan came as a relief, “We are very grateful to our loan officer for offering us information on this loan in cooperation with Habitat. We got smaller repayment and can continue to work on our new house,” says Selma.
All the external works on the house have been completed so far. With the new loan, the family plans to finish interior works and installations. Once all the installation works will be finished, the family can move into their new house.
What is next?
Habitat wants people not only to read about poverty housing but do something to fight it. You can support Habitat’s work in Europe and Central Asia in a number of ways. Here are some examples:
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