UN-HABITAT is launching a new Municipal Spatial Planning Support Programme in Kosovo to help improve the standard of living in secondary towns and cities and bring them into line with modern European and international standards.
The programme, which will be managed with the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, is scheduled to run for two years with funding of US$ 3 million from the Swedish International Development Agency.
At a press launch on 6 December, UN-HABITAT said the idea was to improve the effectiveness of the spatial planning in Kosovo’s six secondary municipalities of Gjakova/Djakovica, Peje/Pec, Gjilan/Gniljane, Prizren, Ferizaj/Urosevac, and Mitrovica. The agency will apply the lessons learned in six years of post-conflict work in Kosovo and improve development so that large population movements in the capital, Pristina, are reduced.
Current socio-economic indicators for Kosovo show significant disparities between Pristina and the secondary cities selected for the project. These relate to employment opportunities, poverty levels, housing and living conditions, water, waste and sanitation management, all of which are substantially worse in the secondary towns and the countryside than in Pristina.
Kosovo cities and towns are now in the process of preparing municipal and urban development plans under new Parliamentary legislation. They are intended to give direction to the urban regulatory plans as well as direct private and public investments. However, the 30 municipalities have limited experience with drafting such plans. They also need to strengthen their capacity to manage urbanization and facilitate growth under a market economy. The larger municipalities are particularly in need of assistance here.
Informal settlements and illegal construction are among the main problems facing Kosovo. Like elsewhere in the Balkans, many municipalities have problems trying to deal with chaotic development along the main roads, in the city centres and on the periphery. Kosovo is a signatory to the Vienna Declaration, which envisages that the problem of informal settlements will be solved by 2015. UN-HABITAT, in cooperation with the Stability Pact, is currently working on developing a regional capacity building programme for countries in southeast Europe to redress these problems and, in the future, to help monitor progress in meeting the goals of the Vienna Declaration.