Improving water services and creating business friendly environments
Municipal governance is directly responsible towards citizens and has great development potential. Municipalities and their leaders are the most dynamic government actors, sensitive for the needs of citizens, their better living conditions and employment. However, political deadlocks and complex constitutional arrangements have resulted in a slow pace of reforms, lack of investments, high levels of unemployment and growing social inequalities. The effect of poor governance was seen during the catastrophic floods in 2014, which showed low resilience and capacities to cope with the consequences of natural disasters.
Municipalities as key drivers of change in BiH
The MEG project will support municipalities to improve their governance and provide public services in an inclusive, effective and efficient manner. By supporting the economic and environmental sectors, where municipalities invest the most of funds, the project will positively affect municipal development as a whole. To start collective action and ensure a country-wide best practice exchange, the project will also contribute to regulatory changes at higher government levels.
The project will support and create synergies between municipalities, businesses, ministries at the entity and cantonal levels, associations, and professional thematic networks. Around 700’000 citizens, including 40’000 socially excluded, will benefit from the improved local services, employment opportunities or improved business environment.
Strengthening municipalities to provide good quality services in the environmental and economic sector
The MEG project will operate in 20-25 municipalities – working with mayors, administration and municipal councils – to develop capacities, provide support to capital investments, and improve economic framework. Citizens, businesses and civil society will participate in policy design and management of projects, but also monitor service delivery. Strengthening the public-private dialogue should unlock their potential and contribute to development and growth. The municipalities will also be able to increase access of socially excluded to public services, equal employment opportunities and jobs. Within the environmental sector the focus will be on water services and improving the technical and management capacities of water utilities. In the economic sector the focus will be on creating a business friendly environment, one that would encourage development, and improving administrative services.
Advocating for municipalities’ interests and improving regulatory framework at higher government levels
Entities, cantons and municipalities will be supported in developing new or revising existing laws, by-laws, methodologies and procedures to achieve a more inclusive and effective local service delivery. The MEG project will consult and cooperate with the Association of Municipalities and Cities which will serve as the voice of municipalities’ interests. Municipalities will be additionally empowered through national thematic professional networks, such as Aquasan, which will become advocates for improved legislation, public services, and provide best practice exchange. Such country-wide proactive networking and exchange will widen the outreach and contribute to building bridges across regions and entities.
Previous successes created momentum
The MEG project is a follow up of the Governance Project in Municipal Water and Environmental Development (GOV-WADE) that supported practicing of good governance principles in the provision of water and environmental services. GOV-WADE confirmed that it is worth to invest in the improvement of municipal development capacities and practices. From 2016 to 2020, the MEG project will focus on 18 advanced municipalities (grouped in two clusters in northern BiH), who have previously demonstrated capable municipal leadership and basic capacities to undertake this development process. However, support for additional less developed municipalities is also possible.