IFES Bosnia and Herzegovina Voter Education and Civic Organizing Project, FINAL REPORT, Concerning USAID Indefinite Quantity Contract (IQC)

Publication Date: 
31 May 2002

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Summary

The USAID Contractor Performance Report of the 1998-1999 IFES civic education program in Bosnia states that "[t]he services IFES provides to Bosnian citizens are recognized as unique and empowering. It offers them both the information and tools to engage in the political process; helps them understand that they have a right and an obligation to demand government accountability; assists them to develop the skills and confidence to approach authorities; and counsels them through the process of seeing their needs met." Thus, it is logical that IFES continued activities in this vein with T0803. The program continued IFES' successful effort in the realm of voter/civic education in order to increase the numbers of citizens who view themselves as stakeholders in the democratic process. The IFES Civic Action Initiatives (GAINs) program was continued throughout the project area following completion of the pre-election phase of activity. The rapport established with municipal councils and the links created to citizens were built upon in order to continue encouraging responsive local government.

In 2000, IFES brought new ideas and made more contributions to the election process in BiH including radio GOGs for the April and November elections in addition to reaching more than 82,000 voters in 5,526 sessions and having thirty local communities sponsor candidate forums for the first time. Following both elections in 2000, IFES presented the results of its independent election day survey of voters and elections observations.

IFES has also published IFES Citizens' Guides for a number of municipalities, with the goal of completing one in each municipality where IFES has a presence. These guides explain local government structure and the responsibilities of each agency and official and provide the municipal budget and phone numbers to contact officials. The guides have been widely disseminated throughout communities. By facilitating public scrutiny of the municipal budgeting process, IFES promotes local government transparency. By teaching effective lobbying techniques, IFES empowers citizens to hold their elected officials accountable. By showing people how a democratic system operates, IFES emboldens citizens to act more freely.

IFES partnered with a Bosnian NGO, the Center for Civic Initiatives, which, with IFES support, has also carried out activities promoting civic initiatives. In 2000, CCI's focus was on the development of advocacy through activities focusing on monitoring of the elections, involving citizens in the elections process, and strengthening non-government organizations by forming a network of these organizations. In 2001 and 2002, CCl implemented programs designed to improve cooperation and communication between citizens and their elected representatives. Their aim was to raise the level of education and build capacities of common citizens and nongovernment organizations to take over more active role in decision making process in their communities by giving them skills and knowledge that would help them to better present their interests to local authorities and keep their elected representatives accountable.

The culmination of IFES's efforts was the transfer of responsibilities from IFES to CCI. IFES turned over its offices in Bihac and Bijeljina to CCI during May 2001; the Doboj and Livno offices were turned over in August 2001; and the Zenica and Visegrad offices were transferred in October 2001. IFES's support of CCI was carried out through January 2002. This transfer was an indication of the level of development of the BiH's civil society.

Read the Full Report.