Over 40 local initiatives have been implemented in Vitebsk Oblast as part of the EU/UNDP program, project manager Liudmila Sakalouskaya said at a regional conference on 24 July to review the results of the project delivery in Vitebsk Oblast, BelTA has learned.
Local initiatives under the project "Support to Local Development in the Republic of Belarus" in 2016-2018 were implemented in Vitebsk District, Orsha District, Senno District, Polotsk District, Tolochin District, Liozno District, Dokshitsy District, Glubokoye District, Miory District and Braslav District. Some 31.7% of the initiatives targeted tourism; 19.5% of the initiatives had to do with infrastructure development; 17.1% of the initiatives were implemented in education; 9.8% of the initiatives dealt with social services; 7.3% of the initiatives were designed to promote economic growth, health and environmental conservation. The total budget of the initiatives stood at €621,000.
Liudmila Sakalouskaya noted that the contest of local initiatives was held in two rounds. Taking part in the first round were all the regions of the country; 722 applications were submitted; nearly one in eight ideas received funding. After that, 30 pilot districts were chosen (five in every oblast) to proceed to the second stage of the project. These districts submitted 352 applications (almost half of them were financed). All in all, 243 initiatives from all over Belarus received a total funding of €3.5 million. The bulk of them came from organizations representing education, culture, sports, healthcare and local governance.
"Contribution of partners is worth mentioning. In line with the rules of the project, partners should provide at least 10% of financing. However, the average amount of co-financing provided by them was estimated at 24%. There were six partners per one local initiative," the project manager noted. She pointed to great prospects of the Area-Based Development (ABD) approach while implementing local initiatives.
Head of the international technical aid sector of the Economy Ministry Ivan Belchik also emphasized the importance of using the ABD methodology for local development projects. "Local residents got an instrument to address area-specific issues and involved government agencies, public organizations and not-for-profit associations," he said.
He believes that the ABD approach is meant first of all for local authorities who know peculiarities of their district, town or locality better than anyone else. Therefore, they are better positioned to address area-specific issues and build up their competitive advantages.
Ivan Belchik noted that the Lithuania-Latvia-Belarus Program is already up and running in Belarus. A series of projects received financing as part of this program. Another project to promote SMEs will be launched in Belarus by the end of the year. Local initiatives under this project will be funded, too.