Enhanced Regional Cooperation
Although the Regional Housing Programme consists of four individual Country Housing Projects, one of the cornerstones of the RHP’s success is its regional character. The four Partner Countries work very closely together to reach their common goal. They support each other and exchange information daily to maintain a steady pace of RHP implementation, to find synergies in their work and to learn from each other’s successful experiences within the RHP. All stakeholders unanimously agree that the RHP has had a significant impact on improving the regional cooperation, security and reconciliation of people that were on different sides of the armed conflict 20 years ago.
Strengthened Operating Standards
The Partner Countries are in charge of implementing the Programme. This is one of the factors that sets RHP apart from most other housing projects in the region: this strong ownership builds up the Partner Countries’ institutional capacity to implement projects in the future, in line with EU and international standards. To support them in implementation, the Partner Countries benefit from extensive training, management tools and improved operating standards. Support to national structures is also offered through in-country resident Technical Assistance which is embedded within the implementing institutions.
The RHP Lead Institutions, Project Implementation Units and local governments benefit from tailor-made training sessions which strengthen their capacities to implement projects. For example, in 2016, nearly 500 municipal officials from over 60 municipalities throughout Serbia were trained on various topics related to project implementation.
The on-the-job training provided to the implementing structures is complemented by specific RHP management tools. These tools consist, for instance, in Gantt Charts, a Procurement Tracking System, Risk Registers and the MMIS (Monitoring Management Information System). They allow close follow-up of all the operational and financial aspects of implementation and early identification of risks. Finally, RHP sub-projects are implemented following strict Master Technical Documentation and other standards/templates. These standards ensure compliance with certain minimum requirements on issues such as urban-technical conditions, building permits, building standards and environmental issues.
This combination of training, management tools and standards again offers two benefits. First, it helps ensure that projects are implemented according to best practices. Indeed, the Partner Countries’ capacities in project planning, implementation and monitoring are much improved. Second, it helps guarantee that the housing stock provided within the context of the RHP offers a quality living environment to beneficiaries and is durable.
The above-mentioned on-the-job training, the development of RHP management tools and the compliance with standards is made possible thanks to the Technical Assistance financed by the European Union and embedded in the Partner Country implementing structures.
Sustained Cooperation with Local Governments
The RHP helps strengthen the cooperation between the central government and local self-governments, as the Programme is implemented in hundreds of municipalities in the region. Local administrations have a high level of ownership of the projects and are actively involved in their implementation, including in procurement and beneficiary selection. This cooperation strengthens the capacities of local administrations.
Role of municipalities
In Serbia, municipalities play a pivotal role in the implementation of the RHP as some of the sub-projects will be implemented in a decentralised manner – by the municipalities themselves – as regards the delivery of building material packages and the purchase of village houses. A large number of Serbian municipalities will also own and maintain RHP-financed apartment buildings for which they need to donate land and secure infrastructure connections. The municipalities also play a key role in the construction of pre-fabricated houses.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the involvement of municipalities will continue in the years to come as a large number of RHP beneficiaries will have their houses reconstructed. The support of municipalities for the RHP is very important as they issue building permits, manage technical acceptances, provide land and infrastructure as well as support in sustainability issues. Furthermore, 19 municipalities will own RHP-financed apartment buildings in which RHP beneficiaries are accommodated.
In Croatia, all municipalities involved in RHP projects donate the respective land and commit to be in charge of the maintenance of the newly constructed facilities.
In Montenegro, municipalities also play an important role: as in the other Partner Countries, municipalities have donated land and financed the costs of preparing the building sites and of providing infrastructure facilities. More importantly, municipalities also own and maintain the RHP-financed buildings.