European Union supported the development of 21 local self-government units with 6.6 million euros, within the Local Integrated Development (LID) project which created opportunities for new jobs for young people in BiH and improved the lives of the BiH citizens.
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is facing a complex set of development challenges, including a declining economy, growing poverty levels, and deepening socio-economic inequalities.
Prolonged political deadlock, coupled with complex constitutional arrangements, has contributed to a worsening in the overall socio-economic situation, with corruption, unemployment and weak policy making capacities prominent among the challenges. The economy remains constrained by high taxation, poor infrastructure and a lacking investment climate.
The national human development report Social Inclusion in Bosnia and Herzegovina notes that over 50% of the population suffers from some form of social exclusion. Among the most vulnerable are minority returnees, internally displaced persons, Roma, people with disabilities, the elderly and youth. Nearly 20 years after the end of the war, around 100,400 people remain internally displaced, while those who have returned face a series of challenges, as recommendations on creating conditions for sustainable return remain largely unaddressed.
Already difficult socio-economic conditions in the country were further exacerbated by the worst flooding on record that struck the country in May 2014, affecting a quarter of its territory and 27% of the population. The devastation of economic, communal and social infrastructure was felt most acutely in areas with many returnees and limited economic opportunities, increasing the number of vulnerable people in need of assistance. Many internally displaced persons and returnees were displaced again and lost what they had managed to rebuild.
Nevertheless, over the last few years encouraging progress has been made at the local level, including in terms of overcoming the consequences of the 2014 floods. In the country’s decentralized institutional context, local development has provided a more responsive framework for quick-wins in the short and medium terms. In other words, despite many challenges, the relative directness and simplicity of political arrangements at the local level means that some challenges can be addressed more efficiently and effectively. Local leaders also tend to be more sensitive to their local contexts while locally conceived and driven initiatives are better able to address the specific and most pressing needs of individual communities. Further, successful change at the local level is expected to build pressure from below, thereby inspiring and driving change at higher levels.
LID will directly contribute to improvements in the standard of living for more than 100,000 people in BiH, working with domestic authorities to put into place mechanisms and resources needed to drive social and economic development.
The Project will work through three interconnected pillars implemented over a three-year period and will envolve better governments for better governance, which will build governance capacities to plan, manage and resource development in an integrated, sustainable and inclusive manner. Local authorities will be guided through a strategic planning cycle while undergoing a series of financial and functional reviews aimed at modelling a local government apparatus that can best serve the development needs of their communities.
Illustrative activities include maximizing revenues and minimizing expenditure on non-essential items in order to make more resources available for development projects – approximately 3% of municipal budgets will be redirected in such a manner during the project’s life cycle.
While the governance pillar aims for long-term changes that will largely manifest themselves after the project has expired, the infrastructure component aims to mobilize joint resources with the immediate target of meeting pressing community needs for vital services. Seed funding will be made available for community initiatives co-financed by local and other authorities and identified as pressing through an inclusive prioritization exercise.
Illustrative activities include the construction of a water supply system for 2,500 households in the municipality of Odžak (where the project will mobilize more than 1 million KM) as well as the introduction of modern waste management practices in the municipality of Šamac.
The third Project pillar will work closely with both private and public sector actors to create local environments that are conducive to growth and investment helping create income generating opportunities for the unemployed or vulnerable. Both entity governments will also be partnered through the model of local development funds where critically important local economic initiatives will be supported. Illustrative activities include the identification of promising economic sectors and subsectors (value chains) and the design and implementation of support activities tailor-made to the needs of each individual locality and sector.
Across all of its pillars the Project will prioritize assistance to the most vulnerable, including returnees, internally displaced persons, unemployed women, elderly, Roma, people with disabilities and long-term unemployed.