My Municipality: Taking inclusion to new levels in fYR Macedonia
On 13 May 2014, Tetovo, a municipality in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, took a major step forward in increasing the transparency, accountability, and responsiveness of local government.
The launch of a new system called 'My Municipality' is set to transform the way the public communicates their priorities to decision-makers, radically increasing the inclusiveness of the municipality’s policy-making processes.
The new tool was inspired by the MY World Survey which aimed to find out what matters most to ordinary citizens. 'My Municipality' takes that same idea and applies it to the local level.
With the project, user-friendly touchscreens have been installed in the offices of the municipality offering citizens the chance to identify, in one of six local languages, the top three priorities for themselves and their families. Or they can simply stay at home or go to an Internet café to do it via the website.
For Tetovo Mayor, Teuta Arifi the key to the project’s success lies in its accessibility:
“The 'My Municipality' solution is deceptively simple. It takes a few touches of the screen for individual citizens to provide invaluable data to inform and guide policy-makers in the decisions and actions they take for the whole municipality.”
The initiative is part of a regional project funded by the Swiss Development Cooperation for empowering the Roma population. UNDP will further support the priorities identified with the administration of small-scale funds in each of the pilot municipalities.
The four pilot municipalities were selected on the basis of their high rates of unemployment and large Roma populations. With the new system, local authorities, along with UNDP and a range of civil society organizations, will be in a much stronger position to develop effective measures for bolstering their inclusion.
Finally, this tool will enable municipalities and the UNDP to collect valuable and accurate data on a whole range of issues. This will make it possible to follow changing trends in the needs of different groups in the population and enable better informed actions at the local level.
This is especially important in the light of the lack of appropriate data on the needs of vulnerable groups in the area, as well as the shortcomings and institutional barriers they are facing. As UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton remarked at the launch:
“This initiative reflects UNDP's broader commitment to helping local authorities improve people's lives. But we know this can't be done in isolation: It's crucial to listen to what people want and engage them in devising solutions.”