The First Bulgarian Municipalities Promoting Rural Development through the LEADER Approach are Gathering in Ardino
The Final Meeting of the SRD Project Steering Committee and the project partners will take place on 4-5 April 2007, in Ardino. More than 60 participants will be welcomed by the mayor of Ardino and will be greeted by H.E. Neil Buhne, UNDP Resident Representative and Mr. Dimiter Peychev, Deputy-Minister of Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The commitment of the mayors and the LEADER Groups of the 11 partner municipalities: Gurmen, Satovcha, Yakoruda, Belitsa, Trun, Vurshets, Topolovgrad, Madjarovo, Ivailovgrad, Ardino and Kirkovo, will be highlighted. The final meeting will be attended by all key SRD Project partners and guests from the joint SAITC/UNDP “T-centers” Project.
Within the event a final meeting of the SRD Project Steering Committee will be held, where the achievements and the impact of the SRD project (February 2003 – April 2007) will be presented. The successful completion the project activities will be combined with 2 official inaugurations of UNDP-supported local projects in Ardino, highlighting UNDP’s involvement in partnerships for local development: the Public-Benefit Project “Cultural heritage is our tourist potential”, co-funded from the Demonstration Initiatives Fund of the joint MAF/UNDP SRD Project; the Ardino Telecenter, established under the joint SAITC/UNDP T-Centers Project.
The project has tested for the first time the introduction in Bulgaria of the EU’s Leader method for rural development through support to the constitution, training and operations of Bulgaria’s 11 pilot Local Leader Groups (LLGs) – 1 in each of the participating municipalities. A Demonstration Initiatives Fund (DIF) within the project has strengthened the capacity building of the Leader Groups in 2004-2006. The DIF provided grants for environmentally friendly employment generation activities in public and private benefit, as well as micro-credits and training funds in the 11 municipalities. The LLGs organized the elaboration and implementation of 85 local projects and 146 business-plans in compliance with the strategies developed by the LLGs, through the pilot projects scheme in 2003 and DIF Grants in 2004-2006.
The project boosted the development of the social capital in the Bulgarian rural areas, creating viable local non-government organizations and encouraging them to work with the local governments and entrepreneurs. The pilot LLGs are key members of the National Rural Network, respected partners of the municipal authorities and representing the local communities’ voice.