Twenty-two development projects proposed by civil society organisations have received a total EUR 270,000 grants from the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme in the five municipalities of Gostivar, Kavadarci, Kumanovo, Resen and Strumica, as part of a Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans (ReLOaD). This Programme aims to strengthen cooperation between municipalities and CSOs by establishing transparent mechanisms for funding CSO projects.
Key conditions for selecting the 22 projects thus included a municipal commitment to co-fund the grants and to ensure a fair and transparent process of funding. In selecting the projects, priority was also given to initiatives aimed at improving services for disadvantaged groups, promoting gender equality and human rights, strengthening social cohesion and increasing environmental protection.
‘The Sustainable Development Goals commit us to ensuring that no-one is “left behind”,’ explains UNDP Resident Representative Narine Sahakyan, “and this programme will help us translate that principle into practice at local level by helping municipalities work together with civil society organizations to build more inclusive communities.”
The successful applicants and their project proposals are:
Municipality of Strumica:
• Red Cross Strumica - to help improve the living conditions of elderly people with disabilities by providing provide regular home care.
• The Association for promotion and development of agriculture – Proagro Farmeri - to introduce new organic farming technologies in the villages of Bansko, Murtino and Robevo.
• The Kult-Tranzen Association for Culture and the Development of Creative Industries - to promote cultural tourism together with local artists and craftspeople.
• The Association of Organic Producers ‘Organologistic’ - to train beekeepers in innovative organic methods of breeding queen bees.
Municipality of Kavadarci:
• Eco Zivot, in partnership with the Association of Caterers - to raise awareness of the importance of effective waste management.
• Association Project EU - to improve the employability of people with disabilities.
• The Association of Organic Producers, Biovita - to work with young women and men from rural areas on creating new economic opportunities at local level and reduce emigration.
• The Association “Steps toward Europe” – to support better integration of children with autism in schools.
• Union for Sport and Recreation of People with Disabilities – to increase the social inclusion of people with disabilities through sports and recreational activities
Municipality of Resen:
• The Prespa Local Action Group, in cooperation with the Association of Fruit Producers, -to establish an educational apiary providing beekeeping courses for unemployed youth.
• The Women’s Solidarity Association Against Discrimination - to train young women and men as tourist guides, including courses in traditional cooking and knitting.
• The Local Action Group Prespa and the Center for Economic Analysis Skopje - to open a youth club aimed at increasing the economic empowerment and social inclusion of young people.
• The Blagoj A. Кotlarovski Association of Fruit Producers to help promote rural tourism and the local economy by improving accommodation offers in Brajcino and Ljubojno.
Municipality of Gostivar:
• The initiative for Civil Integration - to raise environmental awareness about illegal dumpsites and irresponsible waste disposal.
• HDZR Mesecina - to provide analysis, training and mentoring aimed at increasing Roma inclusion, especially women, in the labour market.
• Gostivar SC Snowline, in cooperation with the Center for Social Work and primary and high schools from Gostivar, to organize winter sports activities in Mavrovo for children with disabilities.
• The Platform for Youth Empowerment - to organize a hackathon with a focus on programming and web design to promote young people’s interest in IT.
Municipality of Kumanovo:
• The Majka Humanitarian Association -to conduct workshops on sex education for pupils from the Nace Bugjoni high school.
• The Humanitarian Association “Majka” from Kumanovo – to increase youth activism and participation in creating local and national policies.
• The Circle of Serbian Sisters - to provide practical training for local unemployed people in techniques of painting stained glass.
• The Dynamic Sports Youth Club, in partnership with the Oxygen Mountain Cycling Club – to raise awareness among elementary schools’ pupils about the benefits of leading healthy lifestyles.
• The Association “Kreator” from Kumanovo to establish a youth volunteering model.
ReLOaD is a EUR 10 million regional three-year initiative by EU and UNDP, which aims to improve cooperation between local governments and civil society organizations with a focus on transparent funding for CSOs across the Western Balkans. It is expected that 38,000 citizens will benefit from more than 200 projects.