Project “Small Arms Risk Prevention and Safer Community Planning”

Enhancing the Social Protection and Inclusion System for Children in Bosnia and Herzegovina

(July 2009 – January 2010)


The high levels of small arms, light weapons (SALW) and ammunition in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is a concerning legacy of the country’s 1992-1995 war. The UNDP Small Arms Survey for BiH showed that over 19% of BiH population possess weapons. Alarmingly, the Small Arms Survey showed that 34.2% of respondents in BiH claimed that given a legal opportunity, their household would acquire a firearm.

To respond to the issue of small arms, BiH established a SALW Coordination Board after the 2001 United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. The Coordination Board with UNDP support developed a national Strategy for combating SALW problems. Within the Strategy are a number of activities to be undertaken by the government, communities and local authorities, international community, and other stakeholders.

In 2004, UNICEF-commissioned a survey on MRE and SA risk education in the school system of BiH. Over a third of respondent male children stated they had handled a firearm, 10% said they did it without supervision of adults and 17% said they had fired a weapon. This alarming data mirrors concerns expressed in meetings in which school teachers monitor and evaluate UNICEF landmine and small arms risk reduction project. Teachers have requested support, training and materials, in order to be better equipped to confront the problem of SALW.
Unfortunately, the accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons is a global problem with broad humanitarian and socio-economic consequences for children, their families and communities in general. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country with little reliable data on the number of small arms and light weapons circulating within the country. Public health and criminal justice sectors do not maintain a good surveillance system to monitor the negative impact of small arms.

The European Child Safety Alliance, a 24-country report, shows that, despite injury reductions and safety improvements achieved by many European Union Member States over the last 20 to 30 years, injury remains a leading cause of death for children and adolescents in every Member State in Europe. Each year about 10,000 children die needlessly in the European Union due to unintentional injuries. This is equivalent to losing an entire school classroom of children, more than 25 students, every day of the year. The report shows that there is great variability between the best performing countries in the implementation of prevention strategies with injury death rates up to 4 times higher in those countries with poorer performance.

Many communities in BiH are facing numerous safety problems, when relevant government bodies can not respond efficiently to the threats and challenges posed to safety of children, including the risks posed by small arms. There is therefore a strong need to contribute to the protection and well-being of children through addressing the risks posed by SALW and the promotion of all children’s right to safety.

Based on the above and lessons learned during the implementation of our previous Small Arms Risk Prevention projects in primary schools throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, Genesis Project decided to continue to work with children in primary schools and with representatives from local communities (Civil Protection, Police, local authorities, local media, parents, individuals, etc.), on the SALW risk prevention using the Participatory Action Research (PAR) method and Safer Community Action Planning. We envisage that the application of a wide-range of SALW risk prevention and safer community activities will support the formation of a positive framework within the targeted communities and their members to accept safer forms of behaviour and to create a positive environment for the realization of activities leading to improved safety at the community level.

This project contributed to the Social Protection and Inclusion System (SPIS) Sub Project 5. It focused on the implementation and documentation of integrated approaches to child and family protection and inclusion across sectors, providing protection and care to children and families, in the 10 demonstration sites/municipalities. The aim of the Sub Project 5 is to strengthen the protective environment such that families, schools, health services, social welfare and child protection services act in a structured, regulated manner to identify, assess, refer and address the protection and inclusion needs of vulnerable/excluded children.
This project complemented activities implemented by other UNICEF, government and civil society supported partners within the SPIS Project in the same project locations/demonstration sites. The project aimed to improve children/youth participation in schools, families and communities.

The particular focus of this project was to target different groups of beneficiaries and enable them to initiate, develop and support “school and community based” responses to risks posed by the SALW and main child safety issues.

The main project objective was to improve the participation of children in local community decision making, with the final goal of reducing the risks from small arms and promotion of child safety.

The project was based on a three-tiered approach: 1. Assessment, 2. Participatory Action Research, 3. Implementation/piloting:

  1. Local community assessment and creation of PAR Support Groups of adults (comprising relevant adult representatives of the local community: Civil Protection, Police, local authorities, local media, parents, NGOs, and individuals). By applying the developed tools, the problems related to small arms and child safety was assessed in each local community, including data collection on the knowledge, attitudes and perception of adults on these issues. The findings were later compared with children’s knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of child safety and SA in order to get broader insight into problems of a particular local community. Together with local representatives, PAR Support Groups were established with the goal of assisting and supporting children and youth initiatives as their ‘allies’.
  2. Participatory action research on small arms and child safety and development of “Safer Community” Action Plans (SCAP). The focus of the research phase, conducted by children, was to identify the perceptions, attitudes and needs of children and youth in relation to the risks posed by small arms and child safety issues. This research phase was focused and evidence based safer community action planning and advocacy. Appropriate action plans were developed based on the research findings and recommendations of PAR groups. PAR groups also identified the models for implementation of action plans, including the support from responsible adults in their local community The Project established 10 Participatory Action Research (PAR) children/younger adolescents groups and 10 PAR Support Groups of adults.
  3. Implementation of the SCAPs took place within the community. They were facilitated and supported by the PAR group, local PAR Researcher and PAR Support Group and all key stakeholders with whom partnership was ensured prior to the finalization of the Action Plans.

The project goal was to improve child safety in the targeted communities through developing models for the promotion of youth participation in addressing safety problems, with the primary focus on the risks posed by small arms and main child injuries.

The Project contributed to the Sub Project 5 result of the integrated Social Protection and Inclusion System programme focused on modelling of integrated community-based services to protection and inclusion of children.


Target groups Geographical location

  • Max 200 children (20 per PAR group)
  • Max 100 adults (10 per PAR Support Group)
  • Members of the local community, including:
  • Primary Schools management
  • Municipal governments
  • NGOs
  • Local media
  • Police
  • Civil Protection
  • Minimum 750 children (app. 75 per community – depending on the size of the local community) included in the research on small arms and safer communities issues.
  • Minimum 400 children per community through implementation of the action plans (dependent on the size of the community and the actions proposed by children within the action plan to respond to specific community issues).


  • Entire community through media and advocacy work. Republika Srpska:
  • Novi Grad
  • Bileća
  • Višegrad
  • Laktaši
  • Kotor Varoš

Federation of BiH:

  • Novi Grad, Sarajevo
  • Novi Travnik
  • Stolac
  • Sanski Most
  • Livno


The project took as its general approach to empower children and adults and to mobilise communities to ensure increased safety of children at community level.

The project mobilised different groups at community levels, including children, adults and representatives of local communities and enabled them to initiate, develop and implement school and community based responses to risks posed by the SALW and main child safety issues.

The key project strategies were as follows:

  1. Problem assessment and baseline definition - data collection on the risks posed by small arms and child safety.
  2. Capacity development – PAR for children, PAR training for local PAR researchers and cooperation with media.
  3. Action planning - short-term problem resolving activities were identified in order to address the problems within the project duration, while long term identified activities would focus on lobbying and sustainable participation of children in decision making.
  4. Building of support and partnership - mobilisation of important adults and decision-makers in the communities in order to support implementation of Action Plans that were achieved by communication of children with potential supporters (municipal authorities, institutions, companies)
  5. Advocacy - research and prioritization process enabled children to have an evidence and argument-based communication with the decision makers and potential supporters. As for this segment of the project, the advocacy was realised mostly at the local community level.
  6. Implementation/modelling of SCAPs - implementation of action plans will take/took place within the community and is facilitated and supported by all key stakeholders.

The NGO Genesis also ensured that all project activities incorporate lessons learned and recommendations from previously implemented SALW projects implemented in collaboration with UNICEF – ‘Participatory Action Research on Small Arms and Light Weapons (2007)’ and ‘Mine Risk and SALW education in primary schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina’.



Small Arms Risk Prevention and Safer Community Planning - Final report

Prezentacija Bileca
Prezentacija Kotor Varos
Prezentacija Laktasi
Prezentacija Livno
Prezentacija Novi Grad
Prezentacija Novi Grad-Sarajevo
Prezentacija Novi Travnik
Prezentacija Sanski Most
Prezentacija Stolac
Prezentacija Visegrad


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