The Government of Switzerland has been supporting projects aimed at local community development for many years now. This project has made yet another additional step, for it is delivering in places where people live and have their needs actually met. “A project for me starts living once I get to meet the people who participate in the project and engage with them in a dialog about their concerns and vision for their future. The local communities shall become a place where citizens can directly participate in local development processes”, stressed Barbara Dätwyler Scheuer, Director of Cooperation at the Embassy of Switzerland in BiH.
“I am pleased to see that this project is delivering well; the role of citizens in decision-making and the work of municipal administrations is already evident”, said the representative of the Swedish Embassy in BiH, Mario Vignjević, noting that citizens themselves have ensured that the project is even more effective and successful with their own proposals.
“The project is financed by the Governments of Switzerland and Sweden in the amount of BAM 14.5 million, while local government units participate with 30% of co-financing. This gives the sense of ownership over the project to local authorities, and encourages their greater involvement. It is also important to stress that many of the activities within the project have been identified as priorities by citizens themselves, and also involve a large number of volunteers”, said UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in BiH, Sukhrob Khoshmukhamedov.
At a meeting with the delegation, the President of the Petrovo Municipal Assembly, Brano Marjanović extended his gratitude to the governments of Switzerland and Sweden, as well as to UNDP, for significant assistance being provided to the population of this local community through this project. A visit to the Health Centre also took place, where an ultrasound was procured based on the citizens-defined priorities. “This has greatly improved the quality of health service provision to around 5,500 medical insurance holders in this municipality, and they will no longer have to travel to health facilities in Doboj or Banja Luka, ˮ said Toda Đukanović, Head Nurse at the Health Centre in Petrovo.
On this occasion, the presentation of the project run by the Red Cross Petrovo was also held. This civil society organisation has organised volunteers from seven local communities in this Municipality to work with pensioners, persons over 60 years of age without income, and women and others in need. The delegation also paid a visit to the local community of Krtova, where a project of asphalting and improvement of school playground was implemented.
Apart from learning more about the project results, another goal of the visit was to gain insight into the participation of women and youth in project activities. Representatives of the embassies had the opportunity to discuss the participation of women in political life at the level of local communities with Nermina Hadžimuhamedović, Head of Social Relations Department with the Gradačac Municipality and Coordinator of project activities of MZ’s in the municipality. In the presence of the Mayor of Gradačac, Edis Dervišagić a visit was paid to the local community of Vida 1 and a newly opened social centre where representatives of the MZ Vida 1 Youth Council have shared their experiences with the project as well as their views of the future. “Through the activities in this project, we have learned that a lot can be done and achieved with the right people and good ideas, not only for ourselves, but for others as well, since we change our environment through actions”, said Zlatko, a member of the MZ Vida 1 Youth Council.