Birac Region Development and Cooperation Project (BIRAC)
What is the Project About?
Located in eastern BiH, the Birač region covers geographically coherent territories of Bratunac, Milići, Srebrenica, Šekovići, Vlasenica and Zvornik municipalities. Although it is endowed with abundant natural resources, the region is faced with great development challenges, which stem from the devastating consequences of the 1992-1995 war and thereafter difficult overall socio-economic transition.
Poor economic performance is related to destroyed industrial infrastructure, lack of production capacity, limited entrepreneurial activity, low investments, difficulties in accessing new markets, lack of skilled labour and management skills and unfavourable business environment.
The average official unemployment rate in the Birač region for 2010 was at 49%, although it varied significantly among municipalities. The overall poverty in the Municipalities of Srebrenica, Bratunac and Milići is estimated at 19%, which is close to the national level, while the poverty among the returnee population in the same municipalities is as high as 33%. Similar to other areas of BiH, municipalities in the Birač region still lack critical capacity that would allow them to be actual instigators of development results.
Reasons for this are manifold and on one side include inadequate policy and legal frameworks, as well as insufficient revenues that do not match municipal functions. On the other side, while there have been general improvements in a number of functions performed, the baseline capacities in the targeted municipalities were very weak. Accordingly, progress made still leaves much to be desired in the light of complex new tasks that lie ahead of municipalities in BiH.
Despite some sporadic initiatives, full potential of inter-municipal or regional cooperation remains unexploited. A number of challenges also exist in relation to effective community participation. Civil society organisations still lack considerable recognition among citizens and have a weak role in policy making. Apart from participatory strategic planning processes, public-private dialogue in the municipalities of the region is limited.
What We Do?
The project is a joint initiative of UNDP, UNICEF and UNHCR. It builds on previous and on-going support to the municipalities in the Birač region and argues for inter-municipal and regional cooperation to support bottom-up partnership approach to development and foster territorial cohesion, following the EU LEADER-like principles.
Primarily targeting sub-regional territories, this approach is community-led by local action groups (LAG) composed of representatives of local public and private socio-economic interests. It rests on joint area-based integrated development strategy, designed to take into consideration local needs and potential, and encourage active engagement of all stakeholders in pursuing joint regional development agenda.
In the context of this intervention, the LEADER-like methodology will be complemented with human rights-based approach to programming in relation to social protection and inclusion (SPI).