Local Action Groups create new development opportunities for local communities
More than 100 directors and members of Local Action Groups from the Republic of Moldova gathered at the closing event of the LEADER – EU 2.0. Rural Development Fund to exchange experiences and share best practices in managing and implementing local development projects.
On 22 December 2022, an event was held to sum up the results of the LEADER- EU 2.0. Rural Development Fund, as part of which 232 local development projects were implemented in the fields of agriculture, public infrastructure, education, public administration services, health and social care, industry, tourism, trade and services, etc. The event also provided a platform for the launch of the Inception Fund, under which 15 newly created Local Action Groups (LAGs) would implement local development projects in 2023, based on Local Development Strategies (LDS).
During the event, members of 26 LAGs, which implemented local development projects from June 2021 to September 2022 from the sources of the LEADER for Rural Moldova Project, discussed the importance and role of the direct funding mechanism for entities to create a participatory space for local actors and community members who had the expertise, vision and skills needed to ensure the sustainability of community development at the local level.
“The year 2021 marked a new beginning for the development of our LAG. The successes and accomplishments we achieved together with partners in the region are tangible and visible in the localities. We have contributed to the revival and sustainability of projects in the region, supporting both entrepreneurs and the civic sector”, said Cristalina Cojocari, Manager of Vasile Stroescu LAG Association.
Thus, during the panel discussion, LAG members talked about challenges, addressed topics related to the management of project selection, monitoring and reporting processes, as well as management of allocated financial resources. This experience will serve as an important prerequisite in the process of managing the state budget funds to be allocated to LAGs by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry of the Republic of Moldova within the LEADER Programme. Vladimir Pascaru, President of Răzeșii de pe Ciuhur LAG, believes that “the first challenge was to register with the Ministry. Another challenge was when beneficiaries came up with a raw idea and I helped and guided them on how everything should be put in writing. Together with the project coordinators, with the LAG directors, we succeeded and accomplished everything successfully. We are here to learn, to succeed, to implement beautiful projects and keep going.”
LAGs in Moldova act as an engine for economic growth in rural areas and are based on public-civic-entrepreneurial partnerships that facilitate long-term community development and demonstrate respect for local priorities by using and appreciating the cross-sectoral contribution of each partner.
“This beautiful result, which we can be proud of, has been made possible by the fact that behind it lies an important managerial, administrative process of communication and collaboration between different institutions. The year 2022 is a year of many challenges, but also one that gives us hope that together we can progress and have other successful achievements,” said Tomasz Horbowski, Country Director of Solidarity Fund PL in Moldova.
Launched in April 2021, the LEADER – EU 2.0. Rural Development Fund provided co-financing of 20 million lei for 26 LAGs in the country, financial sources being allocated through LEADER financial measures of activation and development.
Rural development remains a priority for the Republic of Moldova, which faces the problem of population exodus to cities and a high level of poverty (32.8% in 2021). According to the latest statistics, the labour force participation rate of the population in rural areas is only 38% and the absolute poverty rate is significantly higher in rural areas compared to urban areas. In this context, Solidarity Fund PL in Moldova supports rural development in the Republic of Moldova through the implementation of the LEADER approach, thus contributing to increasing competitiveness and improving living conditions in rural areas and supporting the country’s efforts to integrate into the European Union.
“It is an honor for USAID to be with you and to see the results of all the projects that have been developed. Even though many projects were small, they had a major impact on people’s lives and developed rural life. The process of selection, implementation and participation is transparent, which provides a model example of how the Republic of Moldova is aligning with the European Union standards,” pointed out Erin Doss, Deputy Director, Office of Democracy and Governance, USAID Moldova.
Currently, the LEADER for Rural Moldova Project is implemented in more than 260 localities in the Republic of Moldova. The LEADER for Rural Moldova Project is a joint initiative of USAID and Polish Aid to contribute to the improvement of living conditions and inclusive economic growth in rural areas by expanding the LEADER approach as a model solution for effective local development. The LEADER approach has been implemented in Moldova since 2016 and currently covers more than 50% of the country’s rural areas, generating economic development opportunities for more than 1 million people.
The LEADER-EU 2.0 Rural Development Fund is implemented within “The Moldova Rural LEADER Project” financed by the United States Agency for International Development – USAID, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, cooperation program for development – Polish Aid. The Project is implemented by Solidarity Fund PL in Moldova, in partnership with the National LEADER Network in the Republic of Moldova. Strategic partner – the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry of the Republic of Moldova.
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in Republic of Moldova