The project in brief
The Regional Working Group for the Regional Housing Programme (RHP) coordination
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia - collectively referred to as the Partner Countries strongly supported by the international community.
Solving protracted displacement situation remaining after the 1990s conflicts in the Western Balkans by providing durable and sustainable housing solutions to the neediest displaced population.
"Here to Stay" - new film about RHP achievements to-date
- Enhancing refugee self-reliance through implementation of the comprehensive, joint durable and sustainable solutions strategy;
- Ensuring the voluntary return and reintegration or local integration of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the 1990s conflicts in the Western Balkans;
- Providing durable housing solutions to 11 600 most vulnerable families in the Partner Countries – or to approximately 35 000 persons;
- Contributing to promoting reconciliation and good neighbourly relations and fostering economic growth and social development.
Country film: RHP Bosnia and Herzegovina 2019
A key feature of the Regional Housing Programme (RHP) is its foundation on the strong political commitment of the Partner Countries and the multi-donor/actor cooperation.
The RHP consists of four individual Country Housing Projects, implemented by the Partner Countries through national structures that benefit from a strong capacity building component thanks to technical assistance provided.
Out of the total estimated cost of EUR 289 million, the Donor contribution amounts to EUR 237 million or 82%, complemented by the Partner Countries’ own contribution of EUR 52 million (18%).
The EU is the largest donor with EUR 234 million and there are 14 other donors.
To ensure its successful implementation, the RHP is based on two guiding principles:
- Donor accountability; and
- Project sustainability.
Donors are able to ensure that their contributions to the RHP are put to good use, thanks to:
- Effective governance of the Fund; and
- A comprehensive monitoring and evaluation framework.
Donor contributions are channeled to Partner Countries through the RHP Fund managed by the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), who also supervise the provision of technical assistance to the Partner Countries. The Technical Assistance, financed by the European Commission, supports the Partner Countries throughout the RHP implementation.
The international partners UNHCR and OSCE, with their long-standing presence and intervention in the region, provide contribution in their own specific areas of expertise – especially as regards the key process of selection of the most vulnerable beneficiaries, their protection as well as provision for the socio-economic sustainability of the solutions provided.
Country film: RHP Croatia 2019
- Main donors: European Union, as well as government of the USA, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Turkey and several other countries
- RHP Fund manager: CEB
- Monitoring and advisory role: UNHCR and OSCE
- Technical Assistance: Consortium led by Eptisa SEE
Challenges and how they were overcome
- Identification of the neediest beneficiaries is relatively slow due to complex decision-making processes, time consuming, costly and demanding verification of beneficiaries’ vulnerability and property status (especially across country borders);
- Sustainability issues in general and in particular those related the return of the neediest refugees and IDPs since vulnerability criteria are not conducive to return. It is hard for vulnerable beneficiaries to afford living in very often remote rural locations where their pre-war housing units have been re/constructed;
- Additional issues include lack of infrastructure, such as electricity, water, access road, access to employment, education, health and social services, scarce economic opportunities, etc.
How they were overcome
- UNHCR/OSCE monitor and report bi-annually on Protection and Sustainability Aspects of the Programme;
- The Mid-Term Review and Evaluation has been conducted followed by recommendations aiming at improvement of the RHP implementation;
- The Partner Countries are tasked to address the recommendations as appropriate and report on progress achieved.
Country film: RHP Montenegro 2019
Results of the Good Practice
Besides the fact that the reconciliation and re-establishment of trust between the Partner Countries has been significantly improved and upgraded, the total number of housing solutions delivered so far stands close to 6 000 families (of 11 600 families planned) whose self-reliance has been enhanced, thus they became fully (re)integrated, irrespective of the voluntarily chosen durable solution (return or local integration).
To reach this objective, the need for complementary socio-economic measures have been identified and are being/should be addressed primarily by the Partner Countries themselves or through joining forces with the RHP partners including CSOs.
How the project meets the GCR Objectives
- Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
As a consequence of the armed conflicts in the 1990s, over three million people were displaced both within and beyond the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. Over the past decades, sustained efforts on the part of the four affected states, as well as support from the international community, have enabled the majority of those affected to return home or find other durable solutions. However, despite these efforts, almost half a million people remain displaced throughout the region.
To solve this protracted displacement situation, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, with the support of the international community, launched a regional initiative to end the protracted displacement situation.
As part of this initiative, the Partner Countries have developed a joint Regional Housing Programme to provide sustainable housing solutions to the most vulnerable refugees and internally displaced persons.
The process of resolving the regional issues arising from the displacement created by the 1991-1995 conflicts was initiated in January 2005, with the signing of the Sarajevo Declaration.
The Partner Countries agreed to fully respect the rights of refugees and IDPs and to closely cooperate to find durable solutions for these persons, either through voluntary return and reintegration in their place of origin, or local integration in their current place of residence.
The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Partner Countries met again in Belgrade in November 2011 and signed a Joint Declaration committing their Governments to co-operate in a spirit of good faith to protect and promote the rights of refugees, returnees and IDPs, including existing individual rights, to end their displacement and to enable them to live as equal citizens in Partner Countries.
In this Joint Declaration, the Partner Countries also announced that they had developed a regional working plan to solve the displacement situation and were preparing a Regional Housing Programme for the most vulnerable refugees and IDPs. They also indicated that, in the framework of these two initiatives, they have together resolved a number of regional issues as concerns:
- Ensuring that all refugees accommodated in collective centres will be provided with an adequate housing solution;
- Establishing a regional framework for addressing the housing needs of vulnerable persons, including vulnerable ex-Occupancy/Tenancy Rights holders, and taking into account concrete national programmes;
- Ensuring that facilitated and accelerated procedures are in place to provide guarantee to civil documentation for all refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons, to enable them to fully and effectively enjoy their rights and achieve durable solutions; this entails that genuine documents already in their possession shall be given particular attention in these procedures;
- Guaranteeing a free and informed choice of durable solutions for the refugees and internally displaced persons;
- Managing donated funds through a Joint Fund to ensure that donated funds will benefit the agreed upon priority population in the region;
- Ensuring continued regional data exchange to avoid multiplication of assistance and to ensure that no one be excluded.
Country film: RHP Serbia 2019