NO WATER // 05. 1994.

May 1994

Hamza Baksic

‘That was the time of the water canisters. A terrible time. During those days I went with my wife who during the war had carried home 30 tons of water home in canisters and I carried about 4 tons. We carried the water from the railway station up Kosevsko brdo. On the way I had to empty one of my two canisters because I couldn’t carry it. The next day I went to the station and looked at the garden of a neighbor who lives far lower down than I do and who had water. In his garden I saw peas about 40 cm. high. They seemed to me like the beans in the fairy tale that grow up to the skies. I have a small clayey garden, behind my house; I dig it over myself. My peas are hardly a handspun high. Well, at that time it was enough to have 7-8 peas to make something we called soup, broth. And yet at that time people sometimes even washed their carpets - I even saw in Kranjcevic Street a man hosing his treetops to freshen the air. I hated people who had water, my wife had to go for water to Podtekija near Skenderija Bridge, and my neighbor Ramiz was killed on 1 January ’93 by a sniper, right in the head, and some people had water in their houses. There’s no general feeling of solidarity like to politicians say. There’s only as much solidarity as meets people’s interests. That’s the story of water.’


MAY 1994

• Andrei Kozyrev, Russian Foreign Minister, proposes a four-month truce.

• On the occasion of Easter, a solemn liturgy is held at the Church of the Holy Transfiguration.
• The famous Formula 1 driver Aerton Senna is killed in an accident.

• On Poljine, a hill above Sarajevo, the Bosnian Serb army requests to take a 122mm artillery piece from a UN checkpoint. The French soldiers refuse to hand over the weapon, which is under UN control, which leads to an argument. The UNPROFOR calls for NATO assistance. NATO planes fly low above the UN checkpoint.

• Taxi fares in Sarajevo: From the city center to "Kosevo" hospital – a can of fish; from the center to the neighborhood of Otoka- 1 liter of oil and 1 kilogram of sugar.
• Sarajevans fish in the city’s small river, the Miljacka, in order to survive.

• Akashi makes a secret deal with the Bosnian Serbs so that they can transport their tanks through the exclusion zone; in return they will allow through a convoy of British UN soldiers near Rogatica. The Bosnian Serbs do not hold up their end of this agreement.

• Huge lines of people in front of the Croatian Embassy wait for visas.

• A bus from Visoko arrives with 87 passengers.
• The Iranian Embassy opens.

• "The Guardian": "The destruction of Sarajevo as an ideal, the concept of Sarajevo, makes captives of us all."

• Vienna: Ongoing negotiations between Muslims and Croats over the constitution of the Federation of BH.

• UNICEF report on "Children and War in Bosnia": 79% of children have seen a wounded person, 55% of children have been shot at by a sniper; 96% of children have been shelled, 23% of children think that life has no value, 29% of children do not have feelings of sadness, 34% children have nervous stomach problems.
• Geneva, May 13th, 1994. In Geneva, a new round of peace negotiations starts.

• The new mayor of Sarajevo, Tarik Kupusovic, goes to Venice to mark the establishment of its sister city status with Sarajevo. He brings with him seven children from Sarajevo, all of them of different nationalities.

• Vienna: A document on the constitution of the Federation between Muslims and Croats is signed
• The event "Days of the National Museum" takes place in Sarajevo.
• Because of the open roads and larger supplies, prices in the market are dropping. Problems with the exchange rate due to a lack of small bills and coins. Until now, people did not use these because of the high prices at the markets; now there is a lack of small change.

• The administration of U.S. deals on three levels: 1. With the general public, 2. with the Arabs, 3. with their European allies.
• A Joint Staff is formed for the establishment of a federal army.
• Huge mass of vouchers circulates on the market, which dictates the price of the Deutsch mark. 1 DM. = 1 million bh vouchers

• Street stalls with books no longer exist - they're now a fantasy amid the current terror. An Encyclopedia cost 1 egg; today an Encyclopedia costs 5 eggs.

• The amount of $44,000 in ransom money is paid to the Bosnian Serbs for the release of imprisoned French soldiers.

• The U.K. will withdraw their troops if the warring parties do not reach an agreement within eight weeks. "The Muslims need to admit defeat," says Douglas Hogg.

• In Sarajevo water rationing is in effect. An appeal is sent to the citizens: "Do not wash carpets, do not water gardens!"
• Goats appear on Sarajevo trams. The goat has proven to be very useful for survival in Sarajevo.
• Jacqueline Onassis dies.
• France: French intellectuals lead an election campaign for the European Parliament under the slogan: "Europe begins in Sarajevo." A "List for Sarajevo" is formed. Bernard-Henri Lévy: "European values are being buried in Sarajevo."

• The first gas station reopens.
• Veterans of the Second World War lay flowers at the bust of Tito, on the occasion of his birthday.

• The Bosnian Serbs shoot at the bus to Visoko. A woman is killed but UNPROFOR manages to protect the bus.
• The U.S. Senate proposes airstrikes. UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali is against the attack, as is France.
• Geneva: agreement on the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina: 51% of the territory to the Federation, 49% of territory to the Bosnian Serbs.
• Dobrinja: Bosnian Serbs fire on a bus with passengers. The decision is made for UNPROFOR soldiers to ride on buses with passengers on the "blue routes."

• General Michael Rose: "This is a stalemate: the Serbs in the long run are losing the war, and the Muslims cannot reclaim the territory."
• Departure of convoy for Belgrade is expected : Passengers may bring only two bags, not weighing more than 15 kg., and no more than 1,000 DM in cash

• Water: no water in the city due to excessive spending on garden irrigation and washing carpets.
• Alexander Solzhenitsin returns to Russia after 20 years in exile.

• The "Botanical Garden", re-opens after two years. Museum workers have saved it from woodcutters during severe winters.

• Mariofil Ljubic appointed for president of the Constituent Assembly of the Federation.

• French intellectuals abandon the idea for the "List for Sarajevo."
• Marketplace: Chicken is cheaper than cabbage; cabbage is 8 DM.
• World No Tobacco Day


Water shortages may last for days, or weeks. The reasons are always the same - no electricity, or a act of terror. Then the search starts. First, one checks a basement. Then you may go to Konak (which serves only the privileged) then to Sedam brace on Bistrik, where big lines are formed, then in the neighborhood of Pionirska dolina, where one waits under the snipers Those who carry water do so, depending on their strength and the number of canisters, several times a day, traveling several kilometers, waiting in a line for at least three hours. The lucky ones are those with bicycles, which are pushed rather than driven. The same with the owners of baby-carriages and former market carriages. Anything that rolls will do, for everything is easier than carrying the water by hand.
In one of Sarajevo neighborhoods Alipasino polje, someone with a gun made holes in the water pipe running above a little stream. Water was pouring and for hours people were hanging on the rotten bridge trying to collect as much of a precious liquid as possible. The best thing that can happen is a discovery of water somewhere in the neighborhood where you live. It doesn’t matter that the pipe emerges from the disaster left after the big Olympic hall has burned to ground. There is a pipe, and there is water, and there are big lines with people who do not worry anymore whether the water is clean, or not.
One of the ways to find water is using dowsing rods. Life, and your ability to survive is very much about natural talents In this case - you put your electromagnetic waves against those of the water. Gifted magicians are searching for the water. Those more talented and skillful can even advise you how deep you should dig. It is known that even during the First World War, Austro-Hungarian troops had special divisions which consisted of dowsers whose duty was to search for new wells. At that time, the water on the Eastern Front (also known as the Serbian) was very polluted. Yet, with them and without them, it is the rain that brings consolation. Groove gutters are, unfortunately, damaged. People stand in lines, in the rain, waiting with buckets for their portion of rain-water. Day or night - it doesn’t really matter. People drink it and use it for doing laundry. It is very good for your hair, which becomes silky and shiny. Lack of water makes the people of Sarajevo very dose to medieval knights and to French monarchs. They ration water, as if they were Bedouins. Long hair can be washed in a liter and half, the whole body in two or three - all in little pots and pans, with water lukewarm or cold.
The washing machine is a household appliance from some long-gone times. It has no function. The women of Sarajevo are again first-class laundresses. The only thing lacking is a battledore, Iye soap and a clean river to wash what they have.
To run the toilet, waste water is collected, and water is brought from springs - if they are not too polluted - or from the street…


The brewery was built in 1881 during the Austro-Hungarian period and it was the first modern brewery in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The water for the brewery comes from an underground lake under Sarajevo. As one of the rare places where people from all over the city came for water, the brewery was an important strategic target for the aggressor and many people waiting in line for water were killed or wounded. This was the place where people gathered with their carts filled with canisters after walking ten kilometers to reach water. This was also the place where filled, but also the cisterns which supplied water to citizens. In the city which had waterworks for several hundreds of years and which had boasted public drinking fountains on every corner the water supply was one of the greatest problems of the siege, because the aggressor commanded all the springs blackmailing the city, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the UN. The citizens gathered rainwater from broken drain-pipes, fetched water from the Miljacka and thawed snow. In 1993 in one of the tunnels leading to Pale the SOROS Foundation built the waterworks which supplied the city pumps.