Adapting to physical distance, protection against the virus and caring for the most vulnerable members of society have become part of our daily lives. The Covid-19 pandemic also contributed to feelings of social isolation, loneliness, and, in certain situations, helplessness. In these situations, it is difficult to recognize the needs of all citizens in local communities, and adequately respond to them.
The Regional Program for Local Democracy in the Western Balkans (ReLOaD), funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in cooperation with 21 local communities and civil society organizations in BiH, identified needs and areas for urgent action. From September to November 2020, civil society will work on the procurement of protective equipment for the most vulnerable residents, providing psychosocial support, as well as animation of the youngest and oldest citizens.
"Back in March, ReLOaD adjusted the project activities to the situation caused by the pandemic and reacted in a timely manner when it was most needed. We now recognize the needs and act preventively wherever possible," said Sanja Bokun, ReLOaD Project Manager for BiH.
More than 50,000 people will benefit from projects supported by the European Union through the ReLOaD program and implemented by civil society organizations. In the next two months, activities will focus on people who lost their jobs during the pandemic, children in kindergartens and schools, farmers, large families with reduced incomes, as well as all those groups of society that were neglected and marginalized during crisis situations. Local governments also provided support in responding adequately to community needs.
"In Tuzla, civil society provides support to children being treated for cancer and their families. In Sokolac and Pale, we support large families, as well as the families of people with disabilities, in gaining new income through greenhouse production. In Sarajevo, we are working to improve the psychophysical health of the elderly. The projects are diverse and include different categories of society, and the European Union once again supports civil society in ensuring that no one is left behind," said Vladimir Pandurevic, Program Manager at the Delegation of the European Union.
Residents of Brod, Bratunac, Vitez, Trebinje, Sarajevo, Gradačac, Tuzla, Rudo, Bijeljina, Pale, Sokolac, Banja Luka, Modriča, Kakanj, Jablanica, Maglaj, Tešanj, Travnik and Teslić will benefit from supported projects.
ReLOaD carries out similar activities in Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo*, Northern Macedonia and Serbia.
*For the European Union, this designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence. For UNDP, references to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).