The imbalance between development of urban and rural communities in North Macedonia, particularly the large gaps in infrastructure and technology, encourages further migration from rural to urban areas. Limited capacities of institutions, small budgets, frequent changes of local policies, stalled fiscal decentralization, and low levels of transparency all contribute to mistrust and weaken rural development. Citizens and civil organizations are not typically involved in actions to improve their communities. Lack of private sector engagement and investment result in underutilized land, deserted villages, and little commitment to community development.
This program is part of the Local Works initiative through which USAID is helping communities to drive their own development by creating their own programs and activities. Rather than follow the typical top-down approach of initiatives created outside communities, the Community Development Program will stimulate locally led development by supporting Local Action Groups and other local leadership efforts to engage community members in the design and delivery of solutions to their challenges and seek local resources to develop rural areas. Special focus will be given to engaging the private sector, acquiring funding at the local and regional levels and linking different sources of funding. The program will lead the process of continual change, building upon local initiatives, promoting careful use of land and local resources, mobilizing the knowledge and ambitions of local communities with a spirit of innovation, and linking local and national stakeholders.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND IMPACT
- Fifty new partnerships among LAGs, municipalities, the private sector, and civil society were established to champion community-led development of rural areas.
- LAG members are more able to engage with other residents and relevant stakeholders; detect and prioritize community issues and opportunities; mobilize the community; access funding; and plan, implement, and sustain local actions.
- Five cross-sector advisory groups comprising diverse local actors were established to identify and prioritize local issues and opportunities, as well as joint local solutions to address them.
- LAG Expo 2022, the first community development fair in North Macedonia, brought together more than 60 local farmers, craftspeople, woodcarvers, jewelry makers, ceramists, florists, businesses, and CSOs from targeted municipalities to showcase their local products and services.
Community members carried out the following local actions, with stakeholders (local government, businesses, CSOs, volunteers) contributing more than 70 percent of the needed resources:
- Road construction, cleaning and closing of illegal landfills, and installing new garbage containers for waste disposal in Uma Village
- Cleaning the Pisa riverbed in Pehchevo
- Enclosing a landfill in Bosilovo
- Building a park in Chanaklija Village
- Urban landscaping in Lubnica Village in Konche.