Development Through Dialogue

Brief description of the project:

In line with the projects implemented so far, in 2009/2010 Nansen Dialogue Centre Serbia continues to target local authorities/decision-makers and local political actors expanding the area of coverage to a total of five municipalities across Serbia: Prijepolje and Priboj (Sandžak region), Sečanj (Vojvodina Province), Golubac and Majdanpek (Eastern Serbia). All selected municipalities are characterised as incapacitated, underdeveloped local communities consisting of more than 15 different ethnic minorities, yet similar in size, population and share similar problems when it comes to the communication between the municipality as an institution offering services and citizens as users of these services.

Experience and research (as well as the CLDS reports on the "Local Mechanisms for Social Inclusion" project) show that due to a lack of communication strategies and dialogue with community members and vulnerable groups, citizens are insufficiently informed and consequently, not involved in the creation of the local strategies for development, local decision-making and policies.  Overburdened with political tensions, poor economic situation and lacking capacities to deal with challenges of the transitional process, local governments became non-transparent in their work, inaccessible for communication with citizens and non coherent in legislation regulating civic participation in the decision-making processes. In the given circumstances this project is to deal with the local decision-making related to dialogue with citizens and their participation in the decision-making process. Several reasons call for in-depth monitoring activities that eventually would serve as a basis for advocacy activities calling for improvement in legislation. These changes will regulate citizens’ participation in local decision-making processes, gender equality in decision-making structures or obligations of the local government for dialogue with community members before adopting decisions of public interests (local development plans and strategies, local budgets, environmental regulations etc). In the area of public policies, including development plans, strategies, budgeting etc., one of the most important problems is a systemic non-transparency. The local policies have been public documents since the period of socialism and are regularly published in national and local official gazettes. However, for a wide and even informed public it is extremely difficult to search for and follow the information and get involved in any phase of the decision-making process.

Project aim:

The project aims to strengthen operational capacities and expertise of the local governments and other stakeholders (local NGOs and media workers) for dialogue on development strategies in line with the National Strategy for EU accession.
Overall aim of the project is to contribute to further democratisation of society and participation of citizens in socio-economic development of Serbia and its progress towards the EU Stabilisation and Association.

Expected results:

Improvements in local decision-making related to citizens’ participation in the decision-making process, equality of men and women in governing structures and enhanced dialogue within community stakeholders will be envisaged.

Target groups:

Target groups of the project are five local self-governments, local NGOs and media organisations in the selected municipalities. In addition, the project will also contribute to the information sharing between selected municipalities and their neighbouring municipalities.