The initiative to prevent the construction of small hydropower plants in the future nature park in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ajdin Kamber
Published: 10 May 2019
Last edited: 10 May 2019
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Summary

Over 300 small hydropower plants (SHPP) have been planned for construction in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Even though there is a legal framework in BiH obliging the authorities and the investors to include the local community in the planning and decision-making processes, those regulations are consistently ignored. In Kruščica village, the consent of the locals, for building 4 SHPP planned on their river, was plagiarised. Those 4 SHPP were subsequently added into the spatial plan of the Vitez municipality, in which the Kruščica Mountain had been listed as a PA. Around 40 people signed their consent for the projects. The others didn’t have a clue what was going on (including 2,000 people is living in the village). A spontaneous gathering of citizens on the only bridge that leads to the construction site of SHPP has grown in the successful initiative. WWF Adria, together with partners, is supporting work of Eko-Bistro, organization established by Kruščica village inhabitants.

Classifications

Region
East Europe
Scale of implementation
Local
National
Ecosystem
Freshwater ecosystems
River, stream
Theme
Access and benefit sharing
Gender mainstreaming
Health and human wellbeing
Indigenous people
Poaching and environmental crime
Traditional knowledge
Water provision and management
Challenges
Loss of Biodiversity
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Social conflict and civil unrest
Sustainable development goals
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources

Location

Vitez, Central Bosnia Canton, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Impacts

Within a very short time span, this village in the Vitez municipality and its brave inhabitants have become the talk of the region, well beyond Bosnia and Herzegovina. Two documentaries have already been made about their struggle, and journalists and TV crews are common visitors at the already famous site of the Bridge of the Brave Women of Kruščica. Since 2 August 2017, the population of Kruščica is keeping a round-the-clock watch (women during the day, men in the evening) over the bridge and the initiative has accomplished significant impacts:

  • The construction of the SHPPs was stopped by court decision.
  • Awareness of the natural and cultural heritage of the area is increased.
  • Future development projects will have to be planned with the participation of the locals due to change in the authority bodies of the local community. Previous authority body did not react to illegal felling and excluded locals from decision making.
  • Local business operators recognize the significance of Kruščica, as well as the importance of involving the local population in the efforts, and they support the initiative through donations. 

Representatives of civil initiatives from Kruščica addressed the European Parliament on 7th March 2019, presenting their case at the Save the Balkan Rivers: Resisting Hydroelectric Power Plants in the Balkans and Albania conference.

Contributed by

Kasandra-Zorica Ivanić WWF Adria

Other contributors