Strengthening the Role of Local Communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Project will enhance community governance in BiH by empowering local communities (MZs) as modern and effective structures for pro-active citizens’ participation. A new functional and organizational set up of MZs in BiH will be created and standardized countrywide. In turn, women and men will benefit from more people-centred local service delivery, better accountability and transparency of municipalities.




Country/region Topic Period Budget
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Democratic participation and civil society
Women’s equality organisations and institutions
01.05.2020 - 31.03.2024
CHF  5’155’000


Local governance in BiH is hampered by incomplete legal, institutional, fiscal and policy frameworks. Public services are not equally accessible, of poor quality and fail to meet the needs of people. There is a lack of political will to devolve decision-making power down to municipalities and to create enabling conditions for pro-active citizens’ participation. Local communities (MZs) are community governance units at village and quarter level dating from Yugoslav times. MZs have an unexploited potential to strengthen communities, ensure participatory decision-making and inclusive service delivery.


However, the poorly regulated status of MZs in terms of their functions, financing and staffing prevents them to properly exercise their role.


Improved quality of life of the citizens of BiH through empowered, more gender equal local communities that facilitate active citizen engagement in public life, stand for people-centred performance of municipalities and push forward democratic transformation at the local level.

Target groups

The target group includes 50 municipalities, 859 MZs, entity institutions, civil society organisations, AMCs.


End beneficiaries are app. 1 million men and women, including representatives from vulnerable groups.

Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1:



Municipalities create a conducive environment that enables pro-active engagement of MZs in decisionmaking and community-led local development.


Outcome 2:



MZs as legitimate and sustainable community spaces translate citizens’ voice into quality, genderresponsive and inclusive services and use MZ networks for replication of successful MZ models countrywide.


Outcome 3:



Higher government authorities take responsibility and act in response to increased citizens’ demand for an improved MZ regulatory framework, moving forward broader local governance reforms at country level.


Expected results:  

Gender-sensitive municipality regulatory frameworks for enhanced MZ functioning adopted.




Municipalities and MZs have acquired capacities and tools to effectively steer local development.



Localized MZ vision implemented jointly by municipalities and MZs.



A performance-based incentive scheme applied in partner municipalities and best-performing MZs awarded.



Localized MZ vision scaled up to additional municipalities.



Gender-sensitive legal and policy frameworks for local governance drafted by higher level authorities.


Results from previous phases:  


The MZ vision, defining models and functions of a modern local community for BiH, has been endorsed incorporating countrywide input from 1’800 citizens from 166 MZs and 84 municipalities.




24 municipalities and 136 MZs introduced new processes and mechanisms for citizens representation in local decision-making and improved accountability.




156’000 citizens benefited from improved public services in communal infrastructure.




Membership of women in MZ councils increased by nearly 50 %, while the number of active young people and voluntarism in communities increased by 180.7 % compared to 2016.




Establishment of a countrywide MZ Network (100 municipalities) for sharing best practice in the area of community governance in BiH.




Proposal for amendments of the local governance law in the FBiH and recommendations for legal improvements in the RS initiated.


Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Swiss cooperation with Eastern Europe
Project partners Contract partner
United Nations Organization (UNO)
  • United Nations Development Programme

Other partners

United Nations Development Program (UNDP

Coordination with other projects and actors

Complementarities will be ensured with the Integrated Local Development Project (ILDP) in terms of applying the local development planning cycle at the MZ level. The performance-based approach to grant allocation will be inspired from the Municipal Environmental and Economic Governance Project (MEG). The Strengthening the Role of Associations of Municipalities and Cities Project will be of key importance to support advocacy for legal changes, as well as exchange of experience and networking of MZs. Collaboration will also be established with the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Project in terms of strengthening community units for civil protection.

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    5’155’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    3’641’000
Project phases Phase 2 01.05.2020 - 31.03.2024   (Current phase) Phase 1 01.11.2013 - 29.02.2020   (Completed)