Serbia: Promoting Peace Building in Southern Serbia
South Serbia has the country’s only concentration of ethnic Albanians, and is also the poorest part of the country. Problems continue to exist over inequalities, actual and perceived, between ethnic communities in South Serbia (including Serb, Roma, and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) from Kosovo), and between the south and the rest of Serbia. Increased tensions in Kosovo threaten to spill over into South Serbia unless sources of resentment are addressed.
This Joint Programme targeted the 13 municipalities of South Serbia, with particular focus on the three with ethnic Albanian populations. It centered on building sustainable capacities of local institutions to reduce the causes of tension among population groups in the region.
The programme used a multi-pronged approach to address many of the key obstacles to sustainable peace in the region, including:
- Strengthening dialogue, partnership, and social cohesion;
- Improving access to and quality of public services; and
- Stimulating equitable economic development.
Main achievements included:
- Numerous initiatives were undertaken in communities to reduce inter-ethnic tensions and the risk of conflict: eight projects on gender and inter-ethnic relations contributed to better integration; 13 Local Safety Diagnoses were finalized and a Regional Safety Diagnosis was formulated and adopted; 11 Local Safety Strategies were finalized in partner municipalities and 11 Urban Safety Pilot Projects began implementation; four Local Action Plans on gender equality were adopted and eight municipalities began local development strategies with a focus on gender and minority rights.
- The programme developed capacities and skills of representatives from key local institutions, CSOs and young people for conflict mediation processes.
- Social inclusion in south Serbia was increased through the following initiatives: securing documentation for 706 people, increasing access to health care for more than 3000 Roma and improving the capacities of the education system to provide quality education with greater focus on inclusive education.
- The programme improved the capacities of local self-governments to reduce inter-ethnic tensions and conflict risk by improving cooperation between political representatives of ethnic minorities and the majority, increasing the percentage of women in local assemblies, adopting strategic documents recognizing existing gender and safety gaps, and strengthening the infrastructure needed to implement local youth policies and programmes.
- Sustainable housing solutions and full access to public services was provided for almost 32% of IDPs in the region. Access to health care for vulnerable groups was improved. The share of immunized children was almost doubled, increasing from 49% to 90%. The quality of education, especially for children from minority groups, and those with disabilities, was improved.
- The programme increased access to public services for all citizens, improved the level of human rights and promoted better governance in the region, with a special focus on gender equality and the position of minorities.
- The ability of municipalities to formulate, implement and monitor public policies was strengthened by improving their capacities and by increasing the availability of data at the municipal level through the introduction of the Devinfo system.
Click for more detailed results from the Joint Programmes in Serbia.