Active citizens are at the core of a vibrant democracy. With USAID support, municipalities are directly engaging with citizens in decision-making processes. Holding public hearings during municipal budget development is one of the main ways officials are incorporating citizen input in a meaningful way.
USAID, through its Democratic Effective Municipalities Initiative, has been helping Kosovo municipalities use various methods of information sharing such as bulletins, municipal newletters, websites and public meetings to increase citizen participation in budget hearings. As a result, many citizen requests have been incorporated into municipal budgets. In 22 USAID partner municipalities, some 119 citizen requests, totaling approximately $10.9 million, were incorporated into the 2012 budgets.
Vushtrri/Vucitrn municipality (Vucitrn is the Serbian name of the town) is an excellent example of this process. Several projects were implemented as a result of citizen requests made during public hearings, including a road paving in Bruzik village that benefitted 500 citizens and a new school in Zhilivodë village. The school construction made a huge impact on the lives and the economy of the villagers who will no longer have to send 120 children to nearby villages for education. The village is 21 kilometers away from Vushtrri/Vucitrn, and it was difficult for the children to commute every day to nearby villages. Now they have their own school.
“If you want see a benefit in your community, you only need to do one thing: Take initiative and be engaged. This is the first time that our village is benefiting through public hearings. We never had a municipal representative to present our village’s needs,” said Zekri Muzaqi, a citizen of Vushtrri/Vucitrn municipality who initiated the road paving project.
Skender Krasniqi, a villager who initiated the request for the school construction, summed up the experience: "Being informed and having your voice heard is democracy, and this is what our municipality is doing. I am very happy that USAID is supporting municipal leadership to find ways to bring citizens into decision processes."
USAID's Democratic Effective Municipalities Initiative, which runs from August 2010-August 2013, assists municipal government and officials in Kosovo to strengthen their skills, improve municipal service delivery, increase transparency, and improve cooperation with citizens. In addition, the intiative supports local economic development.
Last updated: December 16, 2013