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Center for Balkan Development
Tel: 978-461-0909
Fax: 978-461-2552
[email protected]

FOB Briefs
Vol. 10, No. 1, December, 2003

FOB Receives $135,000 World Bank Grant
Funds Support Innovative Economic Development Project in Tuzla

Volunteers from the Tuzla Association for the Hearing Impaired during a break in their workday. For each hour they work on city projects, they earn credit toward equipment for their organization.  

Friends of Bosnia is proud to announce a $135,000 World Bank grant to implement a model development project in Tuzla, Bosnia. Chris Bragdon, FOB’s director of Bosnia projects, conceived of this unique economic development project, called “The New Initiative,” that also challenges the culture of dependency and corruption that has developed in Bosnia since the delivery of more than $5 billion in aid.

In January 2002, FOB was invited to Washington, D.C. by the highly competitive World Bank funding program “Development Marketplace” to present a $97,000 proposal. Then, after being referred to the Post Conflict Unit, Bragdon worked closely with World Bank development officers. These meetings resulted in a $135,000 project with implementation beginning in October of 2002.

Building upon the project’s success in 2003, FOB is expanding The New Initiative to eastern Bosnia, with assistance from the SFOR peacekeeping force and UNHCR, to support the integrated sustainable return of refugees to their original communities.

A volunteer from a student Internet club planting trees for the city.  

This innovative community-driven development model — which is proving to be a very effective method of delivering economic aid in post- conflict situations — brings together nonprofit organizations (NGOs), the municipal government, and private businesses to leverage local resources for job creation, sustainable community services, and the restoration of public spaces. The city receives free labor for public projects, such as improving parks, schools, and hospitals; NGOs provide the volunteer labor for these projects, and in return receive income-generating equipment for their organizations; and in exchange for cash donations, participating businesses receive advertising exposure. With local investment and local leadership, this model is self-sustaining beyond the initial international funding. There is no dependency and no charity. And with The New Initiative’s ironclad oversight procedures, the possibility for corruption is all but eliminated.

During the first year of The New Initiative (2002–03), FOB has — with materials, tools, and experts provided by the municipality — contributed to 10 public works projects; worked with 12 local NGOs which provided over 300 volunteers and 5,600 professional labor hours to city projects; and invested approximately $65,000 of income-generating equipment in participant NGOs’ sustainability programs. By generating concrete results through joint efforts, the project fortifies organizations with increased confidence and self-reliance. Thus, in addition to creating jobs, generating revenue for NGOs, and improving public infrastructure, the project achieves its underlying objective: fostering the healthy and productive relationships (social capital) essential to sustainable growth.