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Touristic guesthouses, farms, playgrounds, vegetable processing enterprises – these are just several ideas to be implemented this year in ATU Gagauzia, Taraclia and neighboring villages through the Local Action Groups (LAG), based on the EU LEADER approach to rural development.  For this purpose, the 8 LAGs established in 2017 in the region benefited of European Union grants of about 24 000 Euro (USD 30,000 USD) each through the SARD Programme.

Today, one of the grant beneficiary LAGs, “Eco Bugeac” has opened its office in Joltai village from Ceadir-Lunga district. The event was attended by representatives of the LEADER Programme Coordination Committee formed under the aegis of the Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and Environment, representatives of the SARD Programme, regional public authorities and members of “Eco Bugeac” and the other LAGs.

The people present at the event discussed the experience of the SARD Programme in implementing the LEADER/CLLD method, about the benefits provided by this method to communities in Europe, as well as the prospects of a national LEADER Program in Moldova.   

A LAG is a tri-party partnership of the local authorities and institutions, local business and civil society organizations to identify together the problems and values of the cooperating villages, create a participatory strategy and act for prospering future. Those 8 LAGs established last year with SARD support cover 44 rural localities in ATU Gagauzia, Taraclia and neighboring districts. It is the first time in the country when these localities use the European LEADER/CLLD (Community-led local development in rural areas) method.

Over the last year, the LAGs prepared and approved their own development strategies for a period of five years and identified 50-100 social-economic actions, projects to answer local challenges. This year, the European Union provided LAGs with grants for implementing the first rural development projects, through the EU-funded Programme “Support for Agriculture and Rural Development in ATU Gagauzia and Taraclia” (SARD), implemented by the UNDP.

“Our priority is to improve the quality of our people's lives by using local energy, values and talents of people and we are glad that the European Union supports local initiatives and assists our villages’ prosperity”, stated Valentina Caichi, Mayor of Chiriet Lunga, President of “Eco Bugeac” LAG.

From the non-reimbursable assistance provided by the EU, the USD 5,000 will be used for the LAG’s office management. The remaining amount, namely USD 25,000 will be used for implementing the best development projects in Avdarma, Joltai, Chiriet-Lunga, Besghioz, Valea Perjei, and Tvardita villages, which are members of the “Eco Bugeac” LAG. Individuals, enterprises or non-governmental organizations from these localities may request non-reimbursable financing for up to USD 4,000.

A selection committee, elected by the LAG members and composed from representatives of mayoralties, local businesses and civil society representatives, will select the most feasible and relevant proposals for financing. “It is the decision of the Local Partnership, based on our five-year strategy that we support those projects, which are related to improving the touristic attractiveness of the villages and rehabilitation of public spaces, creation of entertainment areas and promotion of healthy lifestyle”, said Irina Selezniova, manager of “Eco Bugeac” LAG.

The other 7 LAGs will use the grant provided by the European Union for rural development projects, using the same mechanism and principles as the “Eco Bugeac” LAG.

One of the objectives of the SARD Programme is to collect experiences from piloting the LEADER approach to its institutionalization in the country. The first LEADER Programme was initiated in the EU Member States in 1991. Since 2013, the LEADER method, entitled “Community Led Local Development” was extended to cover urban and coastal areas, as well as at the geographical extension, has been implemented in countries going through EU pre-accession period and neighbouring countries, with the assistance of EU and other development partners.

Being financed by the European Union with 6.5 million Euro and implemented by the UNDP, the SARD Programme intends to intensify during 2016-2018 the cooperation between central and local authorities, as well as among regional organizations from Gagauzia ATU and Taraclia district to upgrade the capacities of Local Public Administrations and foster social-economic development of the region and of the Republic of Moldova, as a whole.

Contact person for mass-media: Natalia Costas, Communications National Consultant, SARD Programme, Tel.: 069 22 11 41; E-mail: natalia.costas@undp.org

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