Sarajevo, 23 February 2018 – Yesterday, a conference on results and good practices of development in Birač region was held in Sarajevo, gathering more than 70 participants, representatives of local, entity and BiH level, entrepreneurs, civil society organisations, as well as representatives of embassies and international projects.

The conference presented the results achieved through development and recovery programmes implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Birač region for the past sixteen years, primarily thanks to funding by the Government of the Netherlands. In addition, possibilities for development of the region in the future have also been discussed, with a focus on competitive advantages of this part of our country, especially in the agricultural and food sector, wood processing and metal industry.

"Over the past 23 years, the Government of the Netherlands has been working with great dedication on recovery, sustainable return, peace building and development in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole, especially in Srebrenica and its surrounding municipalities. Since 2002, when the eastern part of the Republika Srpska opened to external partners, the Government of the Netherlands invested more than 125 million Euros in the wider Srebrenica region, of which nearly 30 million Euros through UNDP-implemented development and recovery programmes. Over the years, multiple results have been achieved. The focus of our support had transformed to reflect the needs of the region, including reduction in social and economic gaps, attracting investors and encouraging inclusive economic development. We are pleased to note that the region is now ready to attract public and private investors and be competitive, as local actors have proven that they can take responsibility for their own development,” said Dutch Ambassador Reinout Vos in his address.

The joint support of the UNDP and the Government of the Netherlands region includes two long-term projects. The Srebrenica Regional Recovery Project is an integrated development initiative that has been implemented in Srebrenica, Bratunac and Milići in four consecutive phases from 2002 to 2017. The Birač Region Development and Cooperation Project is a complementary initiative, launched in 2013 until June 2018. It is aimed at encouraging rural development with an emphasis on regional cooperation and inclusion of vulnerable groups of population in cooperation with UNICEF. Apart from the municipalities of Srebrenica, Bratunac and Milići, this project also included Vlasenica and Zvornik.

UNDP Resident Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ms. Sezin Sinanoglu, stressed: “Supporting to the Birač region focused on the reconstruction of infrastructure, public services and economic recovery, on the one hand and on improving the social inclusion of the population in the region, on the other. More than 30,000 citizens have had direct benefits from these activities, more than 500 jobs have been created, decent livelihoods provided to 800 families engaged in agriculture, over 200 kilometers of local roads reconstructed and more than 20 water supply systems built or reconstructed.

The Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina underlined that the local communities have most benefits from these projects: “We are grateful to the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the UNDP for their long-term support to the development of the Birač region, which has had very good results. We do hope that our cooperation will continue to the benefit of this region and through other projects to the benefit of all citizens of our country,” said Mirko Šarović, Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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