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The Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans (ReLOaD) is financed by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). ReLOaD builds on the good practices of the Reinforcement of Local Democracy (LOD) project, another initiative financed by EU, which also represents the replication model in Western Balkans.
As a regional initiative, ReLOaD will be implemented in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo*, Montenegro and Serbia.
In all Western Balkans, the collaboration between local governments and civil society organisations (CSO) is not sufficiently developed. Lack of transparency in financing of CSOs is perceived as one of the main obstacles for development and functioning of civil society. Models in use are often insufficient and discriminatory, do not contribute to positioning and stronger influence of civil society and slow down development of participative democracy.
Overall objective of the project is to strengthen participatory democracies and the EU integration process in the Western Balkans by empowering civil society to actively take part in decision making and by stimulating an enabling legal and financial environment for civil society.
Specific objective of the project is to strengthen partnerships between local governments and civil society 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.
ReLOaD will improve cooperation between local governments and CSOs, while strengthening capacities of all relevant stakeholders to engage more productively in such partnerships. Importantly, the Project will work on introducing and sustaining a transparent, development-oriented and project-based approach to funding of CSOs by local government budgets that contributes to realisation of local priorities in line with development strategies.
As a regional project, ReLOaD will offer a platform for networking between participating Western Balkans countries for purposes of sharing experiences and lessons learned in providing better services to citizens.
Who will benefit from ReLOaD and what we do?
CSO activity: Association of beekeepers “Chestnut” from Cazin implemented the project “Training for beekeeping” aimed to improve the skills of young people, women and vulnerable persons and empower them to start with beekeeping and honey production.
The following stakeholders will benefit from ReLOaD:
- Local governments (municipalities and cities)
- Relevant institutions in charge for the cooperation with CSOs
Partner local governments will be selected through a competitive and transparent process in all Western Balkans. The aim of the selection process is to select 50 local governments in total – 5 local governments in Kosovo*, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, 10 in Albania and 20 in Bosnia and Herzegovina (10 new and 10 local governments that participated in previous LOD project).
The Project will support implementation of 200 CSO projects in selected local governments. It is expected 38,000 citizens to benefit from the Project. Special attention will be given to projects contributing to women empowerment, and strengthening of youth and socially excluded groups.
ReLOaD will create conditions for competitive project-based approach to local governments’ funds disbursement, while at the same time, motivating CSOs to professionalize and become better service providers when competing for these funds. Besides, by anchoring the transparent and inclusive approach the Project will improve utilization and transparency of local governments’ grant schemes.
*All references to Kosovo should be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999)