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USAID supports interethnic integration through its development work in Macedonia
USAID supports interethnic integration through its development work in Macedonia

Macedonia has been transitioning to an independent, free market democracy since USAID first initiated activities in 1993 under the Supporting Eastern European Democracy (SEED) Act.  The country has come far along the path since then, having established the basic institutions and norms of a functioning democratic state and free, regular elections at all levels of government.  The most recent contests—for parliament in December 2016 and at the municipal level in October 2017—brought an end to a particularly dark chapter characterized by government overreach, corruption, and strained relations with the United States.  The current juncture is an important opportunity to consolidate past assistance gains while exploring opportunities to work more closely with the Government of Macedonia on shared goals, the most important of which from a U.S. foreign policy perspective is renewed progress toward eventual accession to NATO and the European Union.  

USAID is helping build capacity and systems for competent, transparent, and participatory governance to accelerate Macedonia’s full integration into NATO and the EU, and build self-reliance.  Over the longer term, USAID is helping Macedonia find ways to finance its own development.

INCREASING PRIVATE SECTOR GROWTH

To build prosperity, USAID is helping to strengthen the competitiveness of Macedonia’s micro, small, and medium sized enterprises (MSME) sector through enhanced support services, improved access to finance, a more streamlined business environment, and greater energy security.  USAID is assisting MSMEs with legal compliance issues, supporting public-private dialogue, strengthening the advocacy and lobbying capacities of chambers of commerce, and working to improve the effectiveness of inspection bodies and the inspection system through streamlined legislation, capacity building, professional development of inspectors, and implementation of e-governance software solutions, to make Macedonia’s business environment more responsive to private sector needs.

To improve access to finance, USAID is assisting with the development of new financial products for MSMEs, helping them prepare bankable proposals and access appropriate financial resources, improving information flow on different types of financing, helping them use factoring to increase their effective working capital and improve cash-flow, and improving financial literacy of key actors across the country. Finally, to improve energy security and reduce dependence on Russian sources, USAID is helping the Government of Macedonia align national legislation to EU and Energy Community requirements and comply with the EU Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) to provide an open and effective legal framework  and reduce corruption while also working to streamline the investment process for renewables.

ENHANCING PARTICIPATION OF INFORMED CITIZENS

To enhance popular participation, USAID is supporting a combination of activities aimed at strengthening civil society, improving civic engagement and increasing the professionalism of independent media through grants to local civil society organizations and their networks.  USAID is also supporting civic cluster activities that encourage and empower citizens from across the political divide to participate in activities that produce tangible results in local communities and foster relationships to advance civic advocacy. USAID is supporting the production of professional, fact-based, in-depth news reporting, encouraging the use of balanced, entertaining, non-partisan TV content that analyzes and presents Macedonia’s main social problems, training private journalists, improving media literacy, and working to increase the use of professional editorial and management practices consistent with a balanced, audience-driven media sector independent from political party or government control.  A new project in 2019 will focus on increasing media entrepreneurship and literacy.

STRENGHTENING GOOD GOVERNANCE

Improving the quality of public governance is critical to Macedonia’s overall progress toward EU accession and is being addressed through direct capacity building assistance to public entities, in part to help the government make tangible progressing implementing its urgent reforms program. USAID is helping to build capacity in the executive branch, legislature, and national elections machinery; facilitating direct dialogue between government and civil society and private sector representatives in the identification and implementation of needed reforms; and continuing to support and strengthen the watchdog role of civil society to help prevent government backsliding on democratic processes and principles. USAID is also strengthening the capacity of parliament to draft legislation, perform oversight and representative functions, and engage with the executive branch, civil society organizations, and constituencies; helping the State Election Commission (SEC) improve electoral processes, install information technology, improve voter lists, and conduct education and outreach;  and helping government develop and implement good governance practices while working on consensus, cooperation, and coordination on urgent priority issues within and between key ministries, and between the legislative and executive branches.  This year, USAID is designing an additional activity to help the Government of Macedonia improve the delivery of basic services and fulfill principal reform commitments.

IMPROVING SOCIAL COHESION

USAID is working with central and local government, all primary and secondary schools, school youth, teachers, parents and leaders to create opportunities for school communities to interact and foster better inter-ethnic cohesion among youth; building the capacity of preschool and school teachers, inspectors from the State Educational Inspectorate, Bureau for Development of Education counselors, and pedagogical students on multicultural integrated education; organizing outreach and sport activities for students, parents and community members in ethnically mixed municipalities; using media to demonstrate the positive role that youth of different backgrounds can play working together to tackle challenges in their communities; helping the Ministry of Education and Science revise the civic education curriculum and engage students in school and community life, promoting student involvement in decision-making processes in their schools and municipalities; and will renovate schools selected based on their needs and accomplishments in the area of ethnic integration and demonstrated civic skills and behaviors of students at school and community level.  To enhance inclusion of socially marginalized groups USAID is developing educational materials for people with visual impairment and conducting diagnostic eye-screening of early-grade students; providing individualized support to the visually impaired and strengthening life skills of the blind, including mobility and work readiness skills; and building the capacity of frontline workers from government institutions and CSOs to protect the human rights of migrants and refugees and facilitating their access to legal assistance, counseling, and asylum.

                                                                                     

 

 

Last updated: August 31, 2018

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