How can implementation of local initiatives integrate European values? Is it necessary to take into account gender equality, inclusion and environmental sustainability when resolving problems in small towns and villages? Participants of a training course held in Byaroza discussed an integrated approach to local development. The event was organized within the framework of ODB Brussels programme "Clearing House". Participants will be able to use the newly acquired skills when implementing initiatives within the framework of the EU-UNDP project "Support to Local Development in the Republic of Belarus" in future.
The 1st Contest of Local Initiatives resulted in selection of five "pilot" districts in Brest region: Byaroza, Brest, Pruzhany, Lyakhavichy and Kamyanets. Development of these regions will take into account potential of the local territories and specifics of local problems (territorially-oriented development (TOD) approach). Within the framework of the EU-UNDP project "Support to Local Development in the Republic of Belarus", it is planned to allocate 87.5 thousand euros to support various local initiatives by non-commercial organizations, institutions, village executive committees and other entities (find more details here) in each of these districts. Every single local initiative in Brest region can receive up to 25 thousand euros.
Yauhen Tarasyuk, Deputy Head of Byaroza District Executive Committee (Brest region, Belarus)
According to Yauhen Tarasyuk, Deputy Head of Byaroza District Executive Committee, the district was selected as a "pilot" one thanks to local residents and communities who care for their land: "Thanks to their efforts, engagement in this work, we won (editor's note: in the 1st Contest of Local Initiatives). We wanted to attract as many people as possible from different walks of life.
For the first time, criteria to assess local initiatives included 'promotion of social entrepreneurship'. Other criteria covered compliance with the development priorities of the "pilot" district, economic and environmental benefits, consideration for the needs of vulnerable groups, gender equality, innovation, the amount of personal contribution and involvement with a broad range of partners.
Georgiy Grybau (on the left), Resource Centre of Economic Development of Kamyanets District (Brest region, Belarus)
Georgiy Grybau, representative of the Resource Centre of Economic Development of Kamyanets District, notes that the training was useful both for beginners and for people who are already quite advanced in project management: "It is useful to listen to information provided by experts from this particular programme and not some other one. Previous trainings were useful because they provided a general vision, while here you can get something new. There should be an overall vision of what a certain territory needs," adds the participant.
Local initiatives need to resolve specific local problems. One of the initiatives already under way is the initiative of Brest Local Fund of Regional Development to preserve historical and cultural heritage, Malaryta system, "Authentic can also be modern".
Participants of the training in Byaroza
"We like to work at the local level: people respond with enthusiasm, they have ideas on how to develop their own district, they begin to communicate with each other, then communication grows to the inter-district level: they communicate at this level, exchange ideas, apply best practices", says Anatol Byaletski, regional coordinator for Brest region, EU-UNDP project "Support to Local Development in the Republic of Belarus". According to him, participants from the "pilot" districts can count on consultation assistance from regional coordinators.
The use of European project management tool while implementing local initiatives to address community problems was also discussed at the training in Grodna.