Twenty-one local self-governance units from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) have expressed their will to ensure better citizens’ participation in decision making processes on local level, within the Regional Program on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans (ReLOaD), which is funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP. Selected partner municipalities and cities have obliged to fund projects of public interest in a transparent manner. Civil society organizations will implement projects to improve living conditions for 20,000 citizens in municipalities and cities across BiH. Projects providing social services for the most vulnerable categories of population, gender equality, environment protection and human rights will be given particular attention. Projects will improve service and wellbeing of communities especially in the areas where local authorities fail to provide services to certain groups of population and fulfil their interests.
“It is quite common to hear there is a deficiency in the relation between civil society organizations, citizens and local authorities. The goal of this program is to overcome that deficiency. Project will help to hear the voice of citizens and civil society representatives and to provide enough funds to mutually cooperate with local authorities. That bond is very important because local authorities are important for any country and any society in providing services and resources to the people in the field”, said Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Head of EU Delegation to BiH.
“More than 40 million BAM are allocated for civil society in Bosnia and Herzegovina annually and more than 50% of that amount is assigned from local level (municipalities and cities). We have to bear in mind that those funds are not always distributed in systematic and transparent manner. Direct funding of civil society organizations still prevails compared to transparent funding. This practice must be improved because real citizens needs are not resolved in that way”, said Sezin Sinanoglu, UNDP Resident Representative in BiH.
ReLOaD project includes 21 local self-governance units in BiH: Banja Luka, Bijeljina, Bratunac, Brod, Sarajevo Centar, Gradačac, Jablanica, Kakanj, Maglaj, Modriča, Pale, Rudo, Sokolac, Stari Grad Sarajevo, Teslić, Tešanj, Travnik, Trebinje, Tuzla, Vitez and Vogošća.
“City of Tuzla has embraced LOD methodology, which help us to find out more about real needs of citizens through non-government organizations, while it enables administration to be more citizens oriented”, said Jasmin Imamović, Mayor of Tuzla.
ReLOaD will improve funding mechanisms for transparent financing of civil society organizations and together with them will implement priority activities for local development.
ReLOaD project is funded by the European Union and implemented by United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo* and Serbia. Total budget of ReLOaD project is 10 million Euros and 4 million Euros is allocated for BiH only.
*This 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.