Local Development Programme (LIFE)
About LIFE programme
The UNDP Local Development programme attempts to reduce differences between developed and less developed areas of Croatia, by stimulating the socio-economic rehabilitation of war affected, mostly rural communities. The sustainability of the results of these efforts is to be achieved through strengthening local authorities' capacity to plan, finance and implement development projects. The focus of the UNDP's activities are the rural municipalities and towns falling within the category of Areas of Special State Concern (according to the Law on Areas of Special State Concern – ASSC) within three distinct geographic areas: Banovina & Kordun; Lika & Dalmatian hinterland and Eastern Slavonia – Danube region.
LIFE programme acts as a complement and a corrective to existing state, county and local development activities, with stronger focus on the "niches" – communities, vulnerable groups, individuals and businesses that, for various reasons, are not able to participate in development activities.
Furthermore, in the last few years in view of the shift of the development agenda towards more strategic legislative and capacity priorities in connection with the EU accession process, many international organizations have left the worst-affected areas and attention has moved elsewhere. The most vulnerable segments of the population in these remote and marginalized areas of the country have been left in conditions incomparable with the wealth and prosperity of larger towns and other geographic areas of Croatia.
Consequently, urgent attention is required to re-galvanize actions in the poorest areas of the country especially to increase the absorption capacity of the least developed small size municipalities in the targeted counties and to make all efforts to reduce sizeable regional development gaps so as to achieve a more balanced development between and within the regions, specially those rural micro-regions lagging behind. This will be addressed through development of a pipeline of project proposals with full technical documentation, for which the targeted municipalities and counties, and the business sector within them do not have sufficient capacity.
In addition to its regular activities, the LIFE programme also serves as an implementation tool for an MDGF project field related output: "Closing the Chapter: Social Inclusion and Conflict Transformation in War Affected Areas of Croatia".
Its activities are organized around mutually supporting components:
(a) support for greater entrepreneurial economic activity and investment, including promotion and assistance in developing measures of diversification o rural economy
(b) improving the delivery of social services, with an emphasis on the elderly, returnees and excluded groups
(c) limited reconstruction of targeted basic community infrastructure, particularly related the functioning of small remote communities, businesses and local markets; and including assistance to local and regional authorities to reach EU standards in water supply management
(d) strengthening local authorities at county and municipal level including absorption capacity for EU funds
(e) assistance in adapting to the EU rural development policy: increasing the competitiveness of the small agriculture holdings, introducing LEADER approach and promoting protection of environment and utilization of sustainable sources of energy in rural areas.
As unemployment and migration figures in the target areas remain relatively high, the Programme will increase its focus on assistance in identifying local business opportunities, the provision of business development training, facilitating supply and distribution chains between larger companies and SMEs, and providing access to financial institutions and resources. With their growing involvement in the programme, local authorities across the three geographical areas are acquiring knowledge, skills and tools to better develop and implement local development policies and deliver targeted services.
The Programme is supported by the Government of Norway, the Government of Netherlands, the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the EU, local and regional government units and UNDP. The implementing partners are the Ministry of Regional Development, Forestry and Water Management, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, Central Office for Development Strategy and Co-ordination of EU Funds, Local and regional authorities – Counties, towns and municipalities, local and national NGOs, international organisations (UNHCR, UNICEF, IOM) and local businesses.
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