The three ethnicities that fought, all received equal representation in government. While this created peace, another result was a deeply complex and decentralized system of governance. Each ethnic group has their own representation and the past shows that collaboration is hard to accomplish. This government is positioned in two ethnic entities, ten cantons, and one district. With ethnic government rhetoric that only speaks for their “own” group, the country ended up with a fragmented, ethnically divided, and under-resourced public administration sector (Kartsonaki, 2017). This leaves the government incapable of tackling current challenges such as, poverty, unemployment, an aging population, emigration social exclusion and inequality (United Nations Population Fund, 2020). As said, there is a load of hidden pain within the population of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The uncertainty and rising inequality are something that puts pressure on the country. However, there are people that want change, need change, and can create change. The challenge is to make these people heard and let them become the leaders of tomorrow.
Social Innovation in a post-conflict country
While the nation’s government refuses to create a difference, the triangle of co-creation shows that people can create change. Non-governmental organizations can play a massive role in facilitating this transformation. In the years after the war, international aid and development organizations became influential actors within Bosnia. This led to the establishment of many local NGOs. However, these local NGOs are often totally dependent on international financial aid, which means that their existence is fragile. In addition, funding from the EU is increasing towards multilateral organization, which reduces the funding for local NGOs. This leads to either the dissolvement of a local NGO or shift towards less transparent financial donors (Bozic, 2021). Also, from a TSI perspective, nation wide funding is less favourable than local support. TSI believes in a bottom-up approach where individuals get support and connections are created to build a new dominant force. We need free actors that take responsibility. So, the question is, how? And how might we support this?
A Dutch NGO can serve local NGOs or community leaders in becoming that free actor mentioned earlier. Supporting these local community leaders in creating networks, enables them to create a multitude of connections that make them, what Taleb calls, anti-fragile and assist them in their task to create co-creation. Not by replacing national institutions, but by creating bridges, understanding and common goals. I believe that this is a sustainable form of humanitarian work that might improve the lives of people all around the globe. The goal for transformative change is not set in stone. How Transformative Social Innovations (TSI) develops depends on a multitude of external factors, such as culture. However, as Ban Ki Moon explained, poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, demographic change, discrimination, and violence are intertwined in a way that makes finding solutions complex. TSI can be used to create connection that are needed to challenge these complexities. And NGOs can play their role in creating these connections.
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Bozic, A. (2021). Social innovation in a post-conflict setting: examining external factors affecting social service NGOs. Development Studies Research, 170-180.
Chaplin, C., Chaplin, C., Goddard, P., & (Firm), F. V. (1940). The Great Dictator. United States: Charles Chaplin Film Corp.
Kartsonaki, A. (2017, March 28). Twenty Years After Dayton: Bosnia-Herzegovina (Still) Stable and Explosi. Civil Wars, pp. 488-516. doi:10.1080/13698249.2017.1297052
United Nations Population Fund. (2020). Population Situation Analysis in Bosnia and Herzegovina. SeCons. Taken from https://ba.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/psa_bih_final_november_2020_eng_0.pdf
UNRISD. (2016). Policy Innovations for Transformative Change. Switzerland: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.
Wielinga, E., & Robijn, S. (2020). Energising Networks; Tools for co-creation. Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers.