The new project called “The Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans” (ReLOaD), worth 10 million euro, was officially launched in BiH capital, Sarajevo.
The project is initiated by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and has a budget of 10 million euro, with 8.5 million euro contribution from the EU and 1.5 million Euro from UNDP and the local governments involved in the ReLOaD.
“ReLOaD” initiative is created to improve cooperation between local governments and civil society organizations (CSO) with a focus on transparent funding for CSOs across the Western Balkans. Over the next three years, 38 000 citizens will have various benefits from 200 projects, implemented in accordance with local priorities. These projects will be implemented by CSOs, in cooperation with local governments, encompassing 50 cities and municipalities in six Western Balkan countries.
As UNDP said in press release, the project aim is to strengthen partnerships between the local governments and CSOs in the Western Balkans by scaling-up a successful model of transparent and project-based funding of CSOs from local government budgets towards greater civic engagement in decision-making and improvement of local service delivery. Project will improve funding mechanisms through which municipalities fund CSOs and implement local development priorities in collaboration with CSOs. In that way, ReLOaD will increase the involvement of civil society in decision-making and improve service provision to better serve local needs in partnership with local governments across the Western Balkans.
“ReLOaD is an important programme for the EU. It is an important part of our already solid support to civil society, which in turn sits firmly as an element of our enlargement strategy”, said Head of Sector – Civil Society and social inclusion, Western Balkans Regional Cooperation and Programmes, DG NEAR, European Commission, Liselotte Isaksson.
UNDP BiH Deputy Resident Representative, Sukhrob Khoshmukhamedov, emphasized that project, with the support from the EU and the UNDP, will facilitate dialogue between CSOs and government institutions, and assist them in addressing the needs of citizens on the local level across the six Western Balkans countries.
The ReLOaD project builds on and scales up the experiences of the Reinforcement of Local Democracy (LOD) project, funded by the EU and implemented by UNDP in BiH in the period 2009-2016.
“I think the biggest success of the LOD project is its multiplication in five countries and starting up the ReLOaD project as a new regional approach”, said BiH Ministry of Justice representative Goran Kucera.
Director of CSO VESTA, Amra Seleskovic, said that ReLOaD project will contribute to the further democratization of the Western Balkan region.
The ReLOaD project is funded by the European Union, and implemented by UNDP in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo. UNDP stressed that “Kosovo” designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence./IBNA