The collaboration between municipalities and civil society organizations (CSO) in Kosovo* is essential for addressing the needs of the local communities and enhancing transparent decision-making processes. Since 2017, progress has been made in allocating funds to CSOs, in line with the Regulation on the criteria, standards and procedures for public funding of NGOs (MF-04/2017).
For the past four years, UNDP and EU have collaborated through a regional initiative “Regional Programme on Local Democracy in the Western Balkans” (ReLOaD) project, involving Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The project aims to strengthen participatory democracy and the EU integration process by empowering civil society to actively take part in decision-making and by stimulating an enabling legal and financial environment for civil society.
In Kosovo, since 2017, the ReLOaD project has worked closely with five competitively and transparently selected municipalities (Istog/k, Kamenicë/a, Lipjan/Ljiplan, Viti/na and Zveçan/Zvečan), as well as with 38 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), towards greater civic engagement in decision-making and improvement of local service delivery. As a result, capacities of 20 municipal officials (30% women) in the five partner municipalities, have vividly improved on project cycle management, managing grant programmes, and monitoring projects during project implementation, proven by publishing independent public CSO calls by partner municipalities. 6,100 people (of which 46% women) directly benefited from improved local services as a result of the CSO projects supported, whereas 198 representatives (47% women) from 117 CSOs have improved capacities for better service delivery by better prioritizing and responding the needs of the vulnerable groups within communities. The project promoted synergy and bridging communication between municipalities and civil society through improved quality of life for citizens. Most importantly, the voices of vulnerable groups in society (i.e. people with disabilities, minorities, women), were articulated and supported by better positioning them in society.
Among many local projects implemented with CSOs, the one completed in Kamenicë/a municipality by CSO “Education Code” shows the support provided to address the basic requirements of young people with disabilities - respectively people with hearing impairment.
The action enabled greater access to community, public and administrative services for youth with hearing impairment, identified the number of people with hearing impairment in the municipality, reinforced and advocated for improved communication between parents and their children with hearing impairment or those who are deaf and finally raised awareness on this issue and promoted the needs of people with disabilities. 30 parents from local communities improved their ability to communicate with their children who had hearing impairment and a language book and sign language book were created in Albanian for persons with hearing impairment.
The sign language instructor, Mr. Përparim Haziri, believes that this training is very important for people who have hearing impairment family members or friends, and he was very pleased to be a part of this programme. “I am an assistant and instructor of sign language, which means that I have completed all the training and now I can teach skills related to sign language. This type of training is very important for improving family communication, and it also enabled me to create an experience in relation to what I have learned so far”, said Mr. Haziri.
As an outcome, the prevailing communication barriers were broken guaranteeing the community is benefiting from a more inclusive social life in the municipality by municipal commitment to include this social category during development plans and strategic municipal documents. Likewise, ReLOaD counts other actions with local CSO projects which addressed other needs of communities, including women and other vulnerable groups.
UNDP in Kosovo continues implementation of ReLOaD 2 in partnership with EU and confirmed their commitment for enhanced cooperation in the first Board of Partners meeting held on April 29, 2021.