Sabri Ben-Achour (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

Sabri Ben-Achour (Forum of Srebrenica NGOs, Bosnia): Sabri was born in France to parents from Tunisia and New Zealand. He has lived in Tunisia, grew up in the United States, and holds British citizenship. In 2002, Sabri graduated with distinction from the University of Virginia. He lived in France and Jordan, studying French and Arabic. Sabri has also worked as a political intern with the Human Rights Campaign, the Arab American Institute, and the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom. At the time of his fellowship, Sabri was pursuing his Master's student at Georgetown University where he was studying foreign policy and international development.



Projects

28 Jul

Last week I was away so there was no blog update. This week we are looking into several possibilities for future projects. One is a Conference for next July, ‘Women Building Peace’ and it would involve bringing women from war-torn countries together to discuss experiences, strategies, problems, and solutions. Drina would work with Bosfam and the network of NGOS in Srebrenica on this, with support of AP. We will know more about the prospects of this conference soon.

Another project I am working on is to help set up a network of Agricultural Cooperatives in the Srebrenica region. The Srebrenica region was gutted economically by the war, and the main centers of industry have yet to be reconstructed. There was, for example, a silver electrode plant, a battery plant, and a zinc processing plant. They are all in ruins now. The municipality has offered free land and other financial incentives to encourage reinvestment, but noone has accepted these offers, most often citing political uncertainty. There are also State-owned enterprises which have yet to be privatized, and this process is apparently moving at a snails place, encumbered by political infighting.

As a result, Drina feels the best chances for economic growth are in self-employment. Because around 4/5 of the population of the Srebrenica region now lives in rural areas, self-employment in agribusiness is especially important.

We are looking into the possibility of setting up a network of agricultural cooperatives, clustered around a community based cooperative bank, that provides small scale financing and training in marketing, operations, and financial management.

There are, however, UNDP sponsored projects in the region that deal with agriculture growth here, and I am in discussions with them to find out where our plans overlap. August/July isnt the most auspicious month for this sortof coordination, because many people leave for vacation, but we are trying our best.

I will also hopefully be travelling to Srebrenica soon to discuss with the members of the NGO network the conference and coordination in general, how to come up with common goals and develop working relationships with the municipality to accomplish them.

These are the main things for this week; things are moving in fits and starts for the moment, but forward nonetheless.

Posted By Sabri Ben-Achour (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

Posted Jul 28th, 2005

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