Role of local communities in focus

Exchange of experiences from BiH, the region and beyond

October 28, 2022

During the conference held in Neum on 26 and 27 October 2022, representatives of local communities (MZs) and local governments from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the region, Switzerland and Sweden exchanged experiences on the role, functions and services provided by local communities to their citizens. The conference gathered some 270 people, including representatives of 41 municipalities and cities in BiH. 
Conference was organised by the project „Strengthening the role of local communities in BiH“ (MZ Project), which is jointly financed by the Government of Switzerland and Sweden and implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Switzerland and Sweden are deeply committed to democratic development at all levels of society and their representatives emphasized that the local governments play an important role in involving citizens in local decision making. 

UNDP’s representative reiterated that the MZ project contributes to more responsive and more inclusive services to citizens making the work of local governments more effective. Strong MZs contribute to the improvement of quality of life for citizens and increase engagement of citizens in decision making processes at local level.

The MZ Project started in 2016 as an initiative to revive the MZs as a mechanism to bridge the gap between local communities and local government and improve the quality of life of BiH citizens. The realization of the second of three planned phases of the Project, which began in March 2020, is underway, and the completion of the current phase is expected in March 2024.

Through citizen participation in decision making processes related to local priorities, some impressive results were achieved since 2016 including, but not limited, to:

  • 23 000 people participated in citizen forums deciding on their local development priorities.
  • A total of 61 priority asphalting projects were implemented, which resulted in 17 kilometers of new or renovated local roads.
  • 50 of children's playgrounds were reconstructed.
  • 98 kilometres of public lighting was replaced and modernized.
  • A total of 31 sports facilities were renovated or built benefiting 123,374 users.
  • The new vision of local communities was created as a result of a consultative process involving more than 2,500 people. This new vision of MZ functions was adjusted in 41 municipalities/municipalities and cities through consultative processes in which about 2,900 people participated, 40% of whom were women.

During the conference, a number of topics were discussed, including status and role of local communities within regulatory framework, involvement of local communities in LG planning processes, method of financing local communities and their priorities, and attracting EU funds to finance the priorities of local communities.