About Local Development Programme

Rural communities in CroatiaUNDP targets a range of developmental needs in Croatia, including improving living conditions and economic opportunities in war-affected, rural and remote areas./Photo: Sunčica Pleština

The UNDP Local Development programme attempts to reduce differences between developed and less developed areas of Croatia, by stimulating the socio-economic rehabilitation of war affected, mostly rural communities. The sustainability of the results of these efforts is to be achieved through strengthening local authorities' capacity to plan, finance and implement development projects. The focus of the UNDP's activities are the rural municipalities and towns falling within the category of Areas of Special State Concern (according to the Law on Areas of Special State Concern – ASSC) within three distinct geographic areas: Banovina & Kordun; Lika & Dalmatian hinterland and Eastern Slavonia – Danube region.

Local Development programme acts as a complement and a corrective to existing state, county and local development activities, with stronger focus on the "niches" – communities, vulnerable groups, individuals and businesses that, for various reasons, are not able to participate in development activities.

Furthermore, in the last few years in view of the shift of the development agenda towards more strategic legislative and capacity priorities in connection with the EU accession process, many international organizations have left the worst-affected areas and attention has moved elsewhere. The most vulnerable segments of the population in these remote and marginalized areas of the country have been left in conditions incomparable with the wealth and prosperity of larger towns and other geographic areas of Croatia.

In line with the advanced EU accession process and, soon, Croatia's membership in the EU, the programme has recently adjusted its focus to reflect the new realities.

Today, Local development programme aims to assist rural and less developed areas in Croatia to adjust to the EU Cohesion policy, with emphasis on Common Agricultural, Regional and Rural development policies, and related financial instruments (European Structural and Investment Funds. This assistance consists of education and training, implementation of preparatory and pilot-projects in partnership with local stakeholders, research and policy contributions, and an array of capacity building measures. With their growing involvement in the programme, local authorities across the three geographical areas are acquiring knowledge, skills and tools to better develop and implement local development policies and deliver targeted services.


The programme’s activities have been organized around mutually supporting components:

(a) support for greater entrepreneurial economic activity and investment, including promotion and assistance in developing measures of diversification o rural economy

(b) improving the delivery of social services, with an emphasis on the elderly, returnees and excluded groups

(c) limited reconstruction of targeted basic community infrastructure, particularly related the functioning of small remote communities, businesses and local markets; and including assistance to local and regional authorities to reach EU standards in water supply management

(d) strengthening local authorities and civil society at county and municipal level including absorption capacity for EU funds – i.e. implementing a comprehensive training and technical assistance programme for drafting EU project proposals

(e) assistance in adapting to the EU rural development policy: increasing the competitiveness of the small agriculture holdings, introducing LEADER approach and promoting protection of environment and utilization of sustainable sources of energy in rural areas – i.e. leading participative processes of establishment of LAGs (local action groups) in Dalmatian rural areas. 

In the forthcoming period, the UNDP Croatia Local development programme will, in partnership with the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, enhance its EU policies’ adjustment activities, through development of a pipeline of project ideas / proposals, for which the targeted municipalities and counties, and the business sector within them currently do not have sufficient capacity. 

The Programme has been supported by the Government of Norway, the Government of Netherlands, the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the EU, local and regional government units and UNDP. The implementing partners are the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, Ministry of Agriculture, Local and regional authorities – Counties, towns and municipalities, local and national NGOs, international organisations (UNHCR, UNICEF, IOM) and local businesses.