Towards a Sustainable and Inclusive Growth for all Newly-established Municipalities in Kosovo

Towards a Sustainable and Inclusive Growth for all Newly-established Municipalities in Kosovo

The project aims to provide the Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo with sustainable solutions on improving their local socio-economic perspectives by both empowering local governments as well as local communities. This new phase is an extension of the past “Decentralisation” projects implemented during the period 2008-2013. It will draw lessons learnt from them and also be flexible in its approach to better adapt to newly emerging challenges. The decentralisation process has insofar re-engaged the Serb community within Kosovo institutions, but important socio-economic issues persist. Hence the following project aims to address the pressing need for better socio-economic perspectives, more job creation, the empowerment of vulnerable and marginalised groups, and improved social cohesion. It also seeks to reach northern Kosovo, where the 19 April 2013 agreement between Prishtinë/Priština and Belgrade and the local elections of November/December 2013 open a new era. Hence, the project will promote strong, effective, accountable and transparent local self-government in Serb-majority municipalities, triggering sustainable and inclusive growth as a means to strengthen reconciliation and to contribute to a stable, democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo as envisaged in the Ahtisaari plan.

Background

Due to the Unilateral Declaration of Independence of 17 February 2008, certain exacerbated differences between the Serb and Albanian communities needed to be addressed. Since then, the decentralisation process and particularly the creation of new and the extension of existing Serb-majority municipalities has been one of the main tools to (re)engage the Serb community with Kosovo institutions and to work as catalyst for economic development and employment in these neglected and underdeveloped areas of Kosovo. Following the decentralisation process, municipalities are, in theory, the key actors in local economic development in Kosovo, as a wide range of competencies have been redistributed to the local level, including local economic development, tourism and land use. The short-term results of the decentralisation process have gone some way in winning the trust of local Serb communities in southern Kosovo, and consequently increasing their willingness to engage with Kosovo institutions. The decentralisation process has only recently reached northern Kosovo which remains fundamentally isolated from the rest of Kosovo. This situation is however not expected to continue in the short-term, as the EU-sponsored agreement between Belgrade and Prishtinë/Priština reached on 19 April 2013 paves the way to an effective implementation of decentralisation in northern Kosovo following local elections which were held on 3 November 2013.

While the efforts so far are commendable, important socio-economic problems persist and are now the overwhelming challenge for the Serb-majority municipalities. Of particular concern is the continued economic stagnation in these areas and the correspondingly high rates of poverty and unemployment. Local authorities, now the principal actors in local economic development (LED), expressed and acknowledged that economic development has overtaken infrastructure as the overwhelming priority and concern in the upcoming years. Although most municipalities have developed or are developing economic development plans and the Kosovo central government has adopted a number of relevant sector strategies, however, both municipal officials and the business community lack capacities to effectively manage and implement these plans and strategies. Furthermore, on this front there have been limited positive developments favouring a more business-friendly environment. Apart from the urgent need for capacity building, municipalities also need support in making their territory attractive to potential investors, from the region and abroad.

Finally, now that the newly established municipalities are legitimised, and will continue to be so with high turnouts for the November 2013 local elections12, there is a need for empowered local communities in order to hold their local governments accountable and promote transparency. Local initiatives create invaluable links between the business communities and empower them to hold the local authorities accountable and make them receptive to their needs with regard to economic growth. Inclusive growth is an approach to economic development that acknowledges that vulnerable and marginalised groups (VMG) require targeted support and attention to be included in the economy.

Aim and objectives

The goal of the project is to promote strong, effective, accountable and transparent local self-government for Kosovo Serbs, triggering sustainable and inclusive growth as a means to improve inter-ethnic relations and to contribute to a stable, democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo as envisaged in the Ahtisaari plan.

- Objective 1: To promote strong and effective local governments for sustainable growth

The project seeks to increase the capacities of local governments to fully and effectively implement their competencies attributed by the Ahtisaari plan, by the Constitution of Kosovo and by the Law on Local Self-Government, in order to establish growth-oriented policies at municipal level for the benefit of the local communities.

- Objective 2: To empower local communities and vulnerable groups for inclusive growth

The project seeks to encourage active participation and engagement of all local communities and vulnerable and marginalised groups (VMGs) in the decision-making process, in social life, and in local economic development.

Expected Results and Activities

Result 1.1.: Capacities of appointed municipal officials and elected municipal representatives to boost local economic development and create the conditions for economic growth and employment are increased.

Result 1.2.: The local business environment is more favourable to individual income-generating initiatives in high potential sectors.

Result 1.3: Issue-based relations between local and central government are improved.

Result 2.1.: Participation of VMGs in public life increased and access to municipal information is improved for communities.

Result 2.2: Employability and skills for self-employment of VMGs are increased.

Result 2.3.: Local civil society organisations are empowered to participate in and monitor public life.

Target Groups and Beneficiaries

ECMI will implement the TSIGaN project extension following a two-pronged approach, working in parallel with local governments and with communities. The first strand is to support strong and effective local governments to stimulate sustainable growth, through capacity-building, dialogue sessions with central government and the promotion of local economic potential. Secondly, economic growth should be inclusive, involving vulnerable and marginalised groups in economic activity and CSOs in decision-making.

Hence, target groups are the following:

- Municipal administrations

- Civil society organisations involved in local economic development

- Minority communities and vulnerable groups (Serb community, Roma communities, Repatriated persons, women, youth)

Implementation period

1 February 2014 – 31 January 2017 (36 months)

Location

  • Gračanica/Graçanicë
  • Klokot/Kllokot
  • Leposavić/Leposaviq
  • Mitrovica/Mitrovicë North
  • Novo Brdo/Novobërdë
  • Parteš /Partesh
  • Ranilug/Ranillug
  • Štrpce/Shtërpcë
  • Zubin Potok
  • Zvečan/Zveçan

Funding

This project is funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs on Finland


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Contact Person

Adrian Zeqiri

Zeqiri@ecmikosovo.org

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