Quality of life in Croatia

Alt text for imageRoma continue to be one of the most disadvantaged groups in Croatia / Photo by Lana Slivar.

About one-fifth of Croatian citizens perceive themselves as socially excluded or at risk of social exclusion, according to UNDP's National Human Development Report for Croatia, Unplugged: Faces of Social Exclusion presented in February 2007. According to the Croatian Bureau of Statistics ( the at risk of poverty rate in Croatia in 2010 amounted to 20.6%, while the EU 27 average is 16,4% - therefore, in terms of poverty rates, Croatia ranks among the most vurneable countries, close to Latvia (21.3%); Romania (21%), Bulgaria (20,7%); Lithuania (20.2%) and Greece (20,1%).

The groups most at risk of social exclusion include people with physical and intellectual disabilities, women, returnees, the Roma and Serb minorities, long term unemployed, youth, single parent families, homeless, old people and prisoners.

Regional development in Croatia is uneven and people have different perception of their well being depending on which counties they live in. According to UNDP Quality of Life report presented in November 2007, the regions with lower quality of life roughly corresponds to the war affected regions of Croatia and include Western and Eastern Slavonia, Banovina, Kordun, Lika and the Dalmatian hinterland. The same regions are roughly those with the higher percentage of socially excluded people.

The Social Inclusion programme provides support to social groups and individuals who are at risk of social exclusion and to those who have difficulties in achieving their civic, political and social rights. Through this programme, UNDP assists the Croatian central and local governments to effectively address social exclusion through data gathering, public debate and a transparent decision making process in social policy. The overall aim is to assist in the development and implementation of more inclusive and strategic social policies that target vulnerable social groups.

The programme activities

The programme embraces four groups of activities:
1) promoting transparency in decision-making processes in social policy and participation of beneficiaries of social services;
2) promotion of public debate at the national level on the scope and consequences of social exclusion, and
3) the analysis of social policy measures contributing to poverty alleviation
4) support to civil society and institutional actors in the implementation of innovative programmes and best practices.

The outcome of the programme will contribute to the achievement of nationalized MDG 1, the reduction of relative poverty, and will support the Government's efforts to meet key accession requirements of the European Union in particular, the preparation and implementation of the Joint Inclusion Memorandum (JIM). Through its support for returnees, minorities and excluded groups in war-affected and underdeveloped areas, the Social Inclusion programme contributes to the implementation of the Local Development programme.

The Social Inclusion programme also supports the work of the UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS which promotes capacity building of the National AIDS authority, the expansion of the National monitoring and evaluation system and new partnerships with civil society.

The Ministry of Social Policy and Youth is the main implementing partner responsible for ensuring that lessons from UNDP-supported programme are fed into national and sector policy development. Other key partners include the Central Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry of Health and the Office for National Minorities. Programme interventions are coordinated with the EC delegation, UNHCR, UNICEF and the World Bank.