Local Development Pilot Projects (LDPP)
"The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia"
Debar and Reka Region
The Debar and Reka territory corresponds to the administrative limits of Debar-Mavrovo and Rostusha municipalities, located in the north-west of the country (on the border with Albania). Geographically, the pilot territory is coherent. It is characterised by numerous and diverse cultural, natural and human heritages and resources (most of Debarís population is Albanian speaking), as well as by traditional crafts and farming activities in an unspoiled and unpolluted environment. The mountainous landscape and extensive forests, protected by the Mavrovo National Park, are already partially exploited for seasonal tourism and recreational activities.
Socially and economically however, the pilot territory is fragile. The level of activities is too low to provide inhabitants with sufficient jobs and to justify the relevant level of public investments for maintaining the efficiency of infrastructures. Villages are gradually becoming depopulated, and there are fewer and fewer people to take care of traditional buildings. Instead of rehabilitating what already exists, the seasonal newcomers invest in new buildings, which as with spontaneous interventions by inhabitants who want to improve their living conditions, threatens the authenticity and quality of the cultural environment and landscape. The authorities do not have the means to actively intervene. Restrictions are imposed, but not always applied, attempting to protect the most important features, although these measures are often perceived as obstacles to the economic improvement of the region. In such a context which increases feelings of abandonment and isolation, the stakeholders are divided about what should be done. Because financial resources are scarce and prospects limited, municipalities compete with each other rather than working together, with increased opposition or misunderstandings between communities. National and regional authorities focus mainly on sectorial responses to the problems which do not impact on the global situation. It is therefore easy for investors to take advantage of these divisions in order to exploit natural and cultural assets to acquire business and profits which do not benefit the majority of the population.
The Debar and Reka LDPP is designed to guide stakeholders in finding their own responses to the main issues at stake affecting the development of the territory: the preservation and sustainable use of the cultural diversity, natural richness and activities typical of the region which give it its identity, are a guarantee for fostering its attractiveness and boosting its future dynamism. Their integration into national and regional economic development strategies can be the start of a new global development model, based on a diversified economy taking advantage of small and medium-sized enterprises. Local actors must be convinced that only their mobilisation around common rules can lead to defining a common will, and then to promoting one coherent social and economic territorial project, assuring investors of the best options and the increased skills of local communities to guarantee sustainable management of future activities. New partnerships and renewed cooperation help to decompartmentalise the competencies, to apply a holistic and multidisciplinary approach, and to share responsibilities through a different kind of social pact that ensures the viability of the decentralisation policies and supports institutions in the implementation of the public action.