Strategic local planning for good results
The strategic planning attempts in municipalities and cities were previously ad hoc and donor-driven without being embedded into the larger planning and financial frameworks. Interaction with the private sector and citizen participation in local planning were scarce and the strategies were not aligned with the policies and resources of the higher government levels. While steering complex development processes, the municipalities and cities face numerous challenges such as limited capacities to lead and manage development planning, including lack of funds for realization of defined strategic priorities. The ILDP instigated systemic changes with municipalities and cities that are already having positive effects to the municipalities and cities’ everyday activities especially related to providing services to their citizens.
More specifically, the ILDP aims to strengthen the capacities of municipalities and cities to conduct integrated and inclusive local development planning, as well as to effectively implement development strategies. At the same time, the ILDP conducts policy discussions with various governance actors to create mechanisms for the harmonisation of strategic planning with financial planning processes.
Building a critical mass of municipalities and cities countrywide applying an integrated and inclusive approach to development planning
Within the ILDP, 50 municipalities and cities receive assistance in conducting integrated and inclusive planning processes and creating their comprehensive development strategies. One of the core objectives of ILDP is securing fair representation of citizens, especially marginalized groups. Participation of different groups creates a strong community ownership over the planning processes and results in strategic plans responsive to socially excluded and marginalized groups’ needs. The strategies focus on specific competitive advantages of each community, linking the strategic vision with financial and administrative capacities. ILDP’s participating municipalities and cities also engage in mutual interaction to share successes and transfer innovative local development ideas. Additionally, the partner municipalities and cities received direct financial assistance to realize local priority projects which had direct benefits for almost 100,000 BiH citizens including marginalized groups. Furthermore, the project promotes intermunicipal cooperation, and concrete interventions supported at the local level which resulted in improved service delivery and income generation to over 170,000 citizens.
Harmonizing strategic planning at the cantonal level
Following the successful harmonization of strategic planning at the local level and to support further vertical harmonization of planning, the ILDP supported participatory design of a uniform approach to strategic planning at the local level. All ten cantons have designed their integrated development strategies that take into account development priorities of their constituent local governments, while the process in one canton is underway.
Creating mechanisms for vertical alignment of local strategic planning system and the higher government frameworks
The complex structures of BiH require harmonization of efforts at several institutional levels to become more effective, efficient, and compatible with European Union (EU) integration processes. Within the ILDP, a legal framework was developed in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) to establish a strategic planning system thus connecting planning processes at the local, cantonal and FBiH level. At the entity level public financing mechanisms have been set up to provide targeted support to local development priorities. The financing mechanisms operate in line with the European Union (EU) practices in managing public grant schemes. The entity governments have allocated over 1,400’000 CHF of own funds for these financing mechanisms. So far, the financing mechanisms contributed to improved service delivery to over 100,000 citizens (incl. over 17,000 marginalized), better livelihoods for more than 2,400 people and creation of 529 new jobs.
Key successes of the project as a foundation for future development
The ILDP has proven to be an innovative and highly relevant intervention in BiH. The ILDP has made a significant step forward in terms of building a strategic planning system at subnational level in the entity of the FBiH – a system that ensures coherence and linkages across policies and budgets. Moreover, the Project has been instrumental in terms of harmonizing and making compatible the planning frameworks at local level country-wide and the cantonal levels in FBiH. Today, nearly 45% of local governments and 100% of cantons in the country use a standardized approach to development planning. The ILDP supported implementation of local development strategies through financing 53 local priority projects con- tributing to improving service delivery and income generation for almost 400,000 BiH citizens.