Democratic and Effective Municipalities Initiative

ICMA's global reach extends to Kosovo through a program that seeks to help local officials meet the challenges of decentralization.

Economic development, including tourism, was a focus of the DEMI project.

The Republic of Kosovo, with a population of approximately 2 million, is a self-declared independent state. It is currently in a process of decentralizing power and resources from the central level to the municipal level, with the municipal governments now responsible for a multitude of services, ranging from personnel recruitment to waste management. However, the quality of municipal services often is poor and local governments face many challenges as they absorb these new responsibilities.

As Kosovo strengthened its focus on its democratic institutions, ICMA supported the decentralization process by partnering in the Democratic and Effective Municipalities Initiative (DEMI). DEMI was a three-year program designed to assist Kosovo municipalities, their leaders, and citizens to promote, implement, and encourage good governance.

DEMI was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and ICMA was a subcontractor to The Urban Institute. Other partners were Crimson Capital, Training Resource Group, and PA Government Systems.

ICMA worked with partners to introduce the concept of the High Performance Organization to provide local administrations with tools to set priorities for service outcomes, to engage citizens constructively in that process, and to be able to identify needed improvements to their municipalities’ systems, processes, and human capacity in order to best meet community-wide objectives. Through coaching, training, and technical assistance, the program helped municipal officials set priorities for service improvements and identified the organizational structure and capacity needs required to meet their objectives.

ICMA’s role encompassed the following activities:

  • Conducted assessments and fact-finding interviews to identify gaps in leadership, management, organizational performance, and service delivery
  • Created a measurement tool to collect baseline data on organizational functioning, which was expected to evolve into a nationwide comparative performance benchmarking system
  • Facilitated coaching opportunities and developed workshop materials—tailored to each municipality by local implementing partners—to address the needs that were identified
  • Prepared local facilitators so that they could implement development programs nationally
  • Assisted municipalities in updating and implementing local economic development plans
  • Facilitated peer-to-peer partnerships between Kosovo municipalities and U.S. counterparts, using the ICMA CityLinks model.

Program activities and accomplishments include the following:

  • ICMA facilitated a CityLinks partnership between the city of Golden, Colorado, and the city of Gjilan, which had identified downtown traffic congestion and scarcity of parking as top priorities to be addressed. In the course of several exchange visits, representatives from Golden evaluated traffic flows; recommended improvements for intersections, pedestrians, and parking; and examined the possibility of a local circulator bus. The mayor of Gjilan awarded a certificate of appreciation “for valuable support in designing traffic mobility in town” to the city of Golden.
  • Economic development staff from Auburn, Alabama, shared their expertise by providing evaluations, recommendations, and training for Kosovo cities. They showcased Auburn’s successful economic development initiatives during a study tour by a delegation of local officials from Kosovo in September 2011 and participated in the Balkan Venture Forum in Pristina in April 2012. They worked  with Kosovo local officials to finalize local development plans and to strengthen the role of local government in economic development by building up staff capacity and development methodologies.
  • The program provided training, workshops, and coaching on project development and management; implementation of the Kosovo legal framework on spatial planning, housing, environmental protection, water, waste management, and associated inspection services; action planning for tourism development and promotion; and gender issues. 


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