Regional Local Democracy Programme in the Western Balkans (ReLOaD2)


What is the Programme About? 

Regional Local Democracy Programme in the Western Balkans 2 (ReLOaD2) is a regional initiative financed by European Union and implemented by UNDP is six Western Balkans countries, namely: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. This programme is a subsequent scale-up of Regional Local Democracy Programme in the Western Balkans (ReLOaD, 2017-2020).

The overall objective of the ReLOaD2 is to strengthen participatory democracies and the EU integration process in the Western Balkans by empowering civil society and youth to actively take part in decision making and by stimulating an enabling legal and financial environment for CSOs. The specific objective of the Programme is to strengthen partnerships between local governments and civil society in the Western Balkans by enhancing transparency in funding of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from local government budgets and promoting youth and civic engagement in decision-making and community development.

Working across the region, ReLOaD2 will enhance capacities of local governments and CSOs to engage in productive partnerships and contribute to improved service delivery and realisation of local priorities in line with development strategies. It will incite local governments to use public funding for CSOs in a transparent and development-oriented manner, recognising local needs and embracing a project-based approach. Also, the Programme will promote youth engagement and support implementation of youth initiatives and will work on improvement of their economic perspectives in partner localities.

In Albania, the Government is committed to strengthening cooperation with civil society, recognizing the importance of CSOs role in addressing citizens’ needs. In this context, the Government adopted an updated Roadmap for the Policy towards more Enabling Environment for Civil Society Development. However, as stated in the Albania 2020 Report “the financial sustainability of CSOs remains a challenge due to unfavorable fiscal and legal frameworks.” Local governments have limited experience with CSO projects, mainly due to limited financial resources and lack of clear procedures. Through ReLOaD, 12 partner local governments have introduced mechanisms for disbursement of public funds to CSOs.

Considering the lack of legal framework, this was a breakthrough, indicating strong local governments’ interest to adopt relevant bylaws and institutionalise mechanisms for transparent disbursement of funds for CSOs. The position of youth in Albania is similar as in the rest of the region, with young people facing lack of optimism, quality education, high unemployment rates, etc. The recently adopted National Law on Youth No 75/2019, among other, defines obligatory elements of youth organizations and their functioning including source of funding, etc. The law intends “to protect the rights of young people in a comprehensive manner, creating the necessary conditions for increasing participation and support of young people, determines the functions and competencies of institutions at central and local level, and to cooperate with organizations that exercise activities in the field of youth”. Another important document is the National Youth Action Plan 2015-2020 which has aims including youth promotion and participation in democratic processes, employment and education. Despite recent development of regulatory and strategic framework, the position of youth still needs to be significantly improved.

In order to address these challenges, in Albania, the Programme will support 6 municipalities through a grant of USD 785,000, from which 80% is the contribution of the Programme and 20% the contribution from municipalities that will part of the Programme. Additionally, 4 other municipalities will be supported through capacity building activities.

The beneficiaries of the grant scheme will be the Civil Society Organisations that will be encouraged to implement projects related with the local development strategies and youth support schemes. The aim is to enforce the participatory democracy in local level as well improvement of quality of life for citizens. At the same time, support mechanisms for youth participation in local decision making, community engagement initiatives, and activities for youngsters.

The initiative is an important step of participating countries towards transparent project-based funding for CSOs, enabled through regional scaling up of a successful model and characterised by intensive cross-country dialogue and exchange. It also makes important contributions to a more mature level of collaboration between local governments and civil society, fostering local democracy and vibrant communities.

The ReLOaD2 is a logical continuation of efforts started in the previous programmes. The positive feedback from the local level and the results achieved have demonstrated appropriateness of such an initiative. Thus, building on earlier efforts, ReLOaD2 is providing far more than replication and continuation of previous activities. ReLOaD2 will provide more results through the involvement of new beneficiaries. New activities will be included such as intensive support to youth initiatives and a tailored approach to capacity building and support to CSOs.

It started on 1st of January 2021 and will be implemented in four years. The final beneficiaries are CSOs, youth, citizens and local communities of participating local governments which will benefit from more inclusive and transparent local decision-making processes, as well as from improved and diversified local service delivery.

* For the European Union, this designation is without prejudice to position on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence. For UNDP all references to Kosovo shall be understood in the context of the UN Resolution 1244/1999.

Expected Results 

The main results to be achieved under this Programme are as follows:

· Project structures and management principles set-up for efficient support to CSOs, local governments and stakeholders (Board of Partners, Advisory Group and the team). 

· The capacity of local governments to institutionalize transparent and gender responsive grant schemes is strengthened.

· The capacity of CSOs and local governments to implement grant schemes and deliver good quality and gender responsive projects servicing the local community is strengthened.

· Capacity of local authorities and CSOs to generate greater civic and youth engagement in local affairs is enhanced.

· Regional networking and dialogue among civil society and local governments across the Western Balkans is enhanced.

Who Finances it? 



Regional Level

European Union

USD 1,27 million

USD 13,5 million

UNDP and local governments

USD 0,16 million

USD 1.5 million


USD 1,43 million

USD 15 million




January 2021


December 2024




Bosnia and Herzegovina


United Nations Development Programme











Full Project information