Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans 2 (ReLOaD2)
Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans 2 (ReLOaD2) is a continuation of a regional project effort funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in six following Western Balkans countries and territories: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.
ReLOaD2 is working with local governments and incentivize them to use public funding for CSOs in a transparent and development-oriented manner, recognizing local needs and embracing a project-based approach. ReLOaD2 will dedicate a special focus on youth by promoting youth participation and engagement in the decision-making process at the local level. Its total budget is USD 13.5 million (approx. USD 1.5 million in Albania).
In Albania, ReLOaD2 started its implementation in January 2021 and directly involves 13 Partner Municipalities. In this second phase, six new Partner Munciaplities ( Kamëz, Kavajë, Kukës, Lushnje, Patos and Saranda) are supported with funds to launch 4 public calls for CSOs. The second group of Partner Municipalities ( Elbasan, Korçë, Roskovec, Përmet and Lezhë) is supported with mentoring and coaching events from the first phase. The Municipalities of Shkodër and Tirana will act as Mentor Municipalities in this phase.
The Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans 2 (ReLOaD2) will continue strengthening participatory democracies and the EU integration process in the Western Balkans (WB) through the empowerment of civil society and youth to actively take part in decision-making by stimulating an enabling legal and financial environment for CSOs in the period 2021-2024.
Civil society organisations in Western Balkans act as an important component in the context of local governance, due to their contribution toward inclusion, participation in public affairs, and reducing disparities within public service delivery. However, there is insufficient cooperation between local governments and civil society organisations and low capacities of NGOs. Civil society organisations remain largely dependent on financing from foreign donors, which is due to a combination of factors including limitations in public funding and lack of transparent mechanisms for funds disbursement.
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 toward a 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.
The youth component in the ReLOaD2 has attracted the interest of partner municipalities. This second phase foresees establishing Youth Thematic Forums in six Partner Municipalities. The aim of the Youth Thematic Forums is to identify issues vital for youth in local communities and encourage youngsters to take part in community affairs and work closely with local authorities. Possible topics for the thematic forums are voluntarism, involvement of youth in local affairs (governance and leadership), integration of and support to vulnerable groups, mechanisms of inter-community support, etc.
The overall objective 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 NGOs.
Specific ReLOaD2 objective is to strengthen partnerships between local governments and civil society in the Western Balkans by enhancing transparency in the funding of NGOs from local government budgets and promoting youth and civic engagement in decision-making and community development.
The project will support the implementation of 52 CSO projects in 6 Partner Municipalities. It is expected that 5,500 citizens will benefit from projects in local communities.
300 youth directly participate in Youth Thematic Forums and undertake 60 initiatives.
17 & 18 December 2021 – ReLOaD for Youth – joint thematic forum with youngsters from Kamez, Kavaje, Kukes, Lushnje, Patos and Saranda.
ReLOaD2 will achieve in 13 partner Municipalities for the period 2021- 2024:
- Strengthen the capacity of local governments and CSOs to institutionalize and implement transparent and gender-responsive grant schemes and deliver quality projects that serve the local community.
- Local governments and NGOs use transparent and project-based model for funding CSOs from the local self-government budgets.
- Growing capacities of LGs and CSOs to generate greater participation of citizens and youth in activities at the local level.
- Improving regional networking and dialogue between civil society and local governments across the Western Balkans.
United Nations Development Programme
GOVERNMENT OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PRO
DELIVERY IN PREVIOUS YEARS