The project „Preparing grounds for the use of EU funds: creating a project pipeline for the less developed areas of the Republic of Croatia“ known under the name Project Hunters, started in August 2013. After 14 months of implementation, the key results of the project were presented in December 2015.
The aim was to increase the administrative capacities of local and regional self-governments and to attract funds from structural and investment EU funds, with a focus on less developed areas of Croatia. For the duration of the project, 87 project ideas were collected, with a different degree of preparedness and the total estimated value of HRK 1.7 billion which was registered in the so-called catalogue of project ideas.
Specifically, there are 35 project ideas in the Sisak-Moslavina County, 36 in Lika-Senj County and 16 in Karlovac County with a potentially important effect on the development of these counties and are aligned with existing local, regional and national programming and strategic documents, as well as existing EU directives for the period from 2014 to 2020. For 19 project ideas the overall estimated value was HRK 552 million and additional documentation was made; pre-feasibility studies, and where appropriate, conceptual designs, main projects and other documentation necessary for further project development.
Most of the collected project ideas are related to the protection of the environment and to the advancement of resource efficiency (measures for water supply, drainage and water purification) as well as the promotion of social inclusion and the fight against poverty (support to the economic renewal of neglected urban and rural communities and the support to the development of infrastructure for the care of children, elderly people and long-term care). Project ideas aimed at business development and the promotion of employment, mainly relate to the tourism and wood processing industry since in these counties due to the war damage, utility infrastructure is less developed, and the demographic situation is extremely unfavorable.
Quality preparation of projects has been for many years the main problem in less developed areas of Croatia, and therefore more than 270 people were educated on the possibilities to use Structural and investment funds through workshops as well as general and specialized seminars.
Within this project, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) prepared Strategic guidelines which emphasize the importance of comparative advantages for all three included counties to determine a smaller number of priorities for investment that can be the generators of general economic and social development.
Eight years of UNDP’s Local Development programme
With this, after eight years the UNDP’s Local Development programme has officially ended. In this period, UNDP has conducted a wide range of programs and projects of social and economic recovery and development of less-developed Croatian regions: Banovina, Kordun, Lika, the Dalmatian hinterland and Eastern Slavonia - the Danube region, the total investment amounted to USD 33 million.
In accordance with the process of Croatian accession to the EU, the program helped rural and less developed areas in Croatia in adapting to the EU cohesion policy, with an emphasis on the Common Agricultural, Regional and Rural development policies and related financial instruments (European Structural and Investment Funds).
In particular, activities were focused on the development of the rural economy, providing social services with a focus on the needs of the elderly, returnees and marginalized groups, the reconstruction of basic targeted community infrastructures, strengthening the capacity of local governments for the use of EU funds, assistance in adapting to the EU rural development policy; strengthening the competitiveness of small farms, the introduction of the LEADER approach and the promotion of environmental protection and the use of renewable energy in rural areas through leading participative processes of establishing LAGs (local action groups) in the Dalmatian rural areas. Also, a series of proposals with complete technical documentation were prepared for the development of projects in selected local governments.