The Regional Housing Programme

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More than fifteen years after the end of the 1991-1995 conflicts in the Balkans, thousands of refugees and displaced persons still live in temporary accommodations.
 
Since 2010, the Bank has been actively involved in a regional initiative to provide the most vulnerable of these refugees and displaced persons with durable housing solutions. This initiative, which is called the Regional Housing Programme (RHP), is led by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, which are referred to as the Partner Countries. It aims to benefit close to 74,000 people living in the Partner Countries and should cost around EUR 600 million over 5 years.
 
The Regional Housing Programme is an integral part of the "Sarajevo Process on refugees and displaced persons" initiated in 2005, re-launched in March 2010 at the Belgrade conference, and to which the Partner Countries have re-committed themselves with the November 2011 Belgrade Declaration. The RHP is supported by the international community, including the European Union, represented by the European Commission, the United States (US), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the CEB.
 
To raise funds for this initiative, a donors' conference was held in Sarajevo in April 2012. During this conference, the European Commission, the USA, Germany, Italy, the Kingdom of Norway, the Swiss Federation, the Kingdom of Denmark, Turkey, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, Slovak Republic and the former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ms. Sadako Ogata, pledged contributions for the Regional Housing Programme. In total, EUR 261 million were pledged, of which EUR 230 million by the European Commission and USD 10 million by the United States.
 
The CEB has the following main tasks within the framework of this initiative:
  • To manage the multi-donor fund, named the RHP Fund, which holds the contributions of donors amounting to at least EUR 250,000. As part of this role, the CEB manages the contributions received from donors, provides administrative support to the RHP Fund’s governance bodies and will monitor the use of grants disbursed from RHP Fund
  • To assist the Partner Countries in preparing and implementing their housing projects, under the oversight of the European Commission, which is funding this support. In particular, the CEB supervises the technical assistance that is being provided to the Partner Countries throughout the duration of the Programme
Over the last months, the Bank has been very active, alongside the four Partner Countries and in coordination with other international stakeholders, in getting the RHP up and running.
 
As regards funding, the Bank has finalized, in coordination with the main Donors, the legal framework of the RHP Fund. With this framework in place, the US was able to formally pledge USD 10 million in September 2012. This commitment was an important milestone: it has been the first contribution to the RHP Fund as well as the first contribution ever from the US to be managed by the CEB. As of 31 October 2012, Switzerland and Norway have also signed contribution agreements for EUR 5 million each, while additional donors are expected shortly.
 
As regards project preparation, the CEB has selected in October 2012, following a stringent tendering process, a consultant to carry out a new phase of technical assistance. This new phase, which builds on preliminary assistance provided between November 2011 and May 2012, started in the beginning of November 2012. It will last 48 months and comprise two stages:
  • During the first stage, which will last approximately 4 months, the consultant will assist each Partner Country in preparing, on the basis of the pre-feasibility report, a country feasibility report. The report is meant to help the Partner Countries further improve their project preparation by reviewing all key project aspects in detail.
  • During a second stage, which will last 44 months, the consultant will provide implementation assistance within the PIUs in technical, financial, legal and administrative areas. This second stage is foreseen to be front-loaded and to decrease over the years so that by the end of year 4 at the latest the PIUs can operate without external support.
 
For more information on this issue, please contact the Secretariat of the Regional Housing Programme (ceb-rhp@coebank.org).