Bosnian Activist Links Past and Present with Pedestrian Path in Bihac

Speeches Shim

Thursday, January 2, 2020
Women enjoying the Bihac-Sokolac trail.
Bihac Public Tourism Agency

No two cities are equal, and some outshine the rest, but Armin Amidžić (33) is determined not to let his hometown of Bihac become a bore. That determination and hometown pride has fueled Armin’s years of civic activism to make Bihac beloved by tourists and residents alike. And he’s not about to slow down now.

In 2012, Armin created an NGO called ABC Association. Armin and his ABC agents of change started organizing concerts and charity events, and he developed an independent web portal to engage Bihac citizens in civic action.

“We did it because we believed we can change the city, change the people, and because it made us feel good,” Armin said.

Still, not everyone craves the lights and crowded spaces of a city. Armin – who had since become director of the Bihac Public Tourist Agency – wanted to plant new seeds of recreational life in Bihac. He decided to develop a hiking trail (which was established 10 years ago but had been neglected since then) connecting the urban part of the city with a medieval fortress in the town of Sokolac, 3 kilometers away. Despite enthusiasm from the locals, however, funding was very limited.

Then USAID visited Bihac as part of its LocalWorks ‘listening tour,’ and Armin leapt at the chance to bring the idea to fruition. He wrote a project proposal and was awarded USAID LocalWorks funds.

The Bihac Public Tourist Agency, joined by local activists, NGOs, and sports clubs, set to work and cleared an access trail to the fort, 10 years after it had been originally reconstructed. And they didn’t stop there. Along the path, they also built an outdoor gym, two observation decks, and benches for recreationists and tourists to fully enjoy not only the endpoints of the trail, but everything in between.  

It is too soon to tell if this has been a draw for tourists, but the new trail has been popular (see photos).

Armin admits he feels a bit tired sometimes, but he is moving forward because activism is a vital part of his life, and without it he would feel incomplete. “As long as I have my inner circle of friends who share my ideas and celebrate every success, for me it’s all worth it,” said Armin, whose work will certainly be remembered by future generations of the city on the Una River.

Armin is a true example of LocalWorks activism.

The USAID LocalWorks initiative empowers and brings dedicated and innovative people together so that they can solve problems and lead development in their local communities. USAID is committed to helping its partner countries achieve self-reliance and ensuring that U.S. taxpayer investments produce sustainable, long-term development outcomes. Local ownership of the development process is key to achieving these objectives.