Skopje, September 20, 2021 – ReLOaD2 is officially launched as a second phase of the project, whose main goal is strengthening the partnership between the municipalities and the civil society organizations through transparent allocation of the funds intended for project activities that will provide benefit to the local citizens.

The official start of the Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans 2 (ReLOaD2) in the country was announced today with the signing of the Memorandums of Understanding with the eight municipalities that will participate in this phase of the project. ReLOaD2 is implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and it is financially supported by the European Union.

“The EU is glad to support the second phase of the ReLOaD project. This should further improve partnership building between local self-governments and civil society relying on a transparent and effective approach to solve local problems. Citizens’ trust in State institutions and openness of the public administration at central and local level goes hand-in-hand with greater civic engagement and participation. These are important drivers for reform and a crucial support to the country’s EU accession process”, stated Karl Giacinti, Programme Manager at the Delegation of the EU.

ReLOaD2 will be implemented in the period 2021 – 2024 in eight partner municipalities, Kumanovo, Gostivar, Bitola, Ohrid, Veles, Gevgelija, Kocani and Kriva Palanka. The project activities include trainings for the employees in the municipalities, support of public-interested projects applied by the civil society organizations, as well as trainings for the CSOs to strengthen their project preparation capacity. According to the project’s framework, more than 40 projects in a total value of 900.000 euros will be supported, providing direct benefit for almost 8.000 citizens. 

“By establishing a unified mechanism for transparent allocation of budget funds meant for financing non-governmental organizations’ projects, the partnership relations are built based on defined rules and procedures. This is the path towards more democratic and more accountable governance at local level, something on which citizens increasingly insist on. The second phase includes eight municipalities, six of which are new. I expect that this phase will ensure replication of the good practices that will create conditions for as many municipalities as possible to accept this method of cooperation with the CSO sector”, said the Minister of Local Self-Government, Goran Milevski.

An added value in the second phase of the project is the planned support for CSOs working on youth-related issues. In that sense, compared to the first phase of the project, ReLOaD2 will have even broader positive impact on the development of the municipalities in which it will be implemented.

„UNDP strongly supports the involvement of young people in local decision-making and we will seek to encourage the youth to get involved in local policymaking, especially on topics that directly affect them. Empowering young people to make tangible improvements in their communities is essential to strengthening their sense of belonging, improving their economic perspectives, and incentivizing them to build their lives in their hometowns. The worrying trend of youth outmigration can only be reversed by restoring young people’s hopes about the future of their communities and by giving them greater say in the shaping of that future”, said Narine Sahakyan, Resident Representative of UNDP.

ReLOaD2 has been implemented in a total of 50 municipalities within the six Western Balkan countries – Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo and Bosna and Hercegovina. In accordance with the planned strategy, the local civil society organizations are expected to implement at least 300 projects with a direct benefit for 40.000 residents. 

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