From strategic plan to sports hall

From Strategic Planning to Sports Court

18 October 2013, Ankica Milenković

This year the municipality of Surdulica adopted a new Strategy of Sustainable Development for the period 2013 - 2020 and the accompanying Action Plan that involves the projects to be realized in four areas: environment; social activities; agriculture and industry; and services, finances and tourism. Each year the municipality adopts a budget and allocates the funds for the projects from the Strategy, i.e. the Action Plan. When there is a public call, the municipality applies with these projects, in accordance with the stated rules.

First, the Economic Development Department analyses the public call and informs the management of the municipality about the rules of the competition. In cooperation with the municipal services the management decides which project to apply with. For example, in case of an infrastructural project we always apply with the project that has the technical documentation ready, as well as the obtained licenses and permit to build.

The employees of the Economic Development Department in cooperation with other departments of municipal administration obtain from the department of urban development and construction the main design and the Decision on Construction Permit, proof of ownership and other required documents (e.g. Decision concerning the Environmental Impact). And from other departments they obtain data and documentation regarding the annual financial statement, public procurement plan, decisions adopted by the municipal council and the like.

Coordination i.e. team work is extremely important in this process. The Economic Development Department in Surdulica prepares the application form. They know how the acquisition of documents is progressing at every moment.

Secondly, it is important to plan the resources and the time. Some public calls are open for three months and that is sufficient to prepare the project. Some calls have shorter deadlines and that must be respected.

Each project that we prepare must contain all the information necessary for the donor to assess it and recognize the importance of the project for the community and the target groups. But the project must fit into the public call priorities and show how by solving the problems of a target group in the local environment, one can contribute to the realization of the goals the donor has anticipated.

During 2012 we sent to our ministries the applications for 13 projects out of which seven were approved for financing. We sent the applications for 11 projects to foreign donors, and five projects were approved. They were all planned within the Action Plan since most of them required co-funding.

In the last ten years the local government in Surdulica was fortunate enough to work with the great number of donors from whom we learnt a lot and the local community benefited in different ways. Thus, the municipal structures were built (roads, waterworks, sewerage, air-supported (air-inflated) sports hall), living conditions for the vulnerable categories were improved, planning and technical documentation was produced…

We are extremely proud that Surdulica municipality is a reliable partner in the region and the area near the border. In inter-municipal or cross-border projects, the cooperation i.e. partnership is agreed between the management in line with the project activities implemented in both municipalities. It is important to have a reliable cross-border partner and to harmonize the activities during the project implementation. Furthermore, the common problems of citizens from both sides of the border are recognized and contacts at all levels are established.

We had excellent cooperation with the European Partnership with Municipalities Programme EU PROGRES that supported our ideas based on accurately written projects and complete technical documentation. Currently we are working on the project of constructing the water supply system in the village of Jelašnica and procuring the modern medical equipment for Special Hospital for Pulmonary Diseases that will be used by all patients from the Pčinja district and the region. Our “Sanatorium” will once again be the institution with long-lasting reputation it deserves and Surdulica will be the place in which the patients receive the highest quality health services. Branding of Vlasina as an important tourist destination and drafting the planning documentation are important steps in managing the social and economic resources at our disposal. Through public calls intended for the NGO sector and informal groups, EU PROGRES initiated the process of raising awareness about citizen participation and contribution of an individual to the local community’s development. The engagement of Roma associations is especially noticeable since now they have more self-confidence in presenting their programmes and projects.

The citizens are rightfully expecting even more from the local government employees. It is important to be ready for the public call, to prepare in advance the strategic and planning documents, technical documents and permits.

Actually, in order to have successful projects, the local government needs to constantly work on organizing administration, improving efficiency, having transparent operations, involvement of citizen and non-governmental sector and all other principles of good governance since that is the only key to success.

Ankica Milenković
Independent Expert Associate in the Economic Development Department of the Municipality of Surdulica

The attitudes outlined in this article represent personal beliefs of the author and do not necessarily reflect viewpoints of the European Partnership with Municipalities Programme, or the European Union, the Government of Switzerland and the Government of Serbia.

Please be informed that the European Partnership with Municipalities Programme – EU PROGRES was completed on 31 March 2014. If you would like to learn about the activities and results of the European PROGRES, which is a continuation of development support of the European Union and Government of Switzerland to the South East and South West Serbia, please visit