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 Press release - World Bank Launches First Kosovo Project (WB)

 Press release date: 15.11.1999

  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
Kosovo Foundation for Open Society
of the Soros Foundations Network
K F O S The World Bank
News Release No. 2000/097/ECA

Contact: Gina Ciagne (202) 458-4166
Email: Gciagne@worldbank.org

WORLD BANK LAUNCHES FIRST KOSOVO PROJECT

WASHINGTON, November 16, 1999 - The World Bank and the Kosovo Foundation for Open Society (KFOS) today announced the establishment of a new initiative to help the people of Kosovo rebuild their lives by supporting the development of Kosovos local government and communities.

WORLD BANK STRATEGY FOR KOSOVO

As part of a broader World Bank strategy to assist Kosovo in its reconstruction and recovery effort, the Community Initiatives Fund will jump-start economic activity amidst the aftermath of the recent conflict and a decade of neglect. The Banks strategy also aims to maximize its impact in Kosovo by using its comparative advantage in policy advice, institution building, and aid coordination to help ensure the overall sustainability of the reconstruction and recovery effort. Total World Bank assistance to Kosovo is expected to amount to US$50-60m over the next 18 months.

Through the creation of a Special Trust Fund for Kosovo, financed from World Bank net income, the Bank intends to support several operations from the first US$25m tranche. These include: (i) a budget support operation covering recurrent costs in the health and education sectors (primarily salaries); (ii) an agriculture restart operation that will enable farmers to begin the 2000 spring season with sufficient inputs to produce incomes and reduce food aid dependence; and (iii) a credit line to help support the dynamic small and medium-sized private enterprises that may help lead Kosovos economic recovery. Additional activities in the energy, water and waste, and social sectors will also be supported. A second tranche amounting to US$25-30 million will likely be made available in the next fiscal year.

Financing has also been made available from the Banks Special Post-Conflict Trust Fund for two additional projects, including this Community Development Fund Project and a quick-start Budget operation.

The Kosovo Community Development Fund - the first operation financed by the World Bank in Kosovo? has two main objectives: to provide rapid, targeted support to assist communities rebuild their shattered infrastructure and improve community services; and to support the development of local governments to allow them to serve their communities in a transparent, fair, and accountable manner.

The Community Fund will finance small-scale projects? identified by communities themselves? up to a maximum of US$75,000. Eligible projects will include small-scale infrastructure, community services (such as programs for youth, war widows, the elderly, and the disabled), and business development activities. The Community Fund will finance projects in communities all over Kosovo, however, resources will be especially targeted towards poor and marginalized communities where investment is most needed.

The Fund will operate in partnership with KFOS, the Pristina-based foundation that is part of the philanthropist George Soros' network of non-profit foundations based throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The Soros foundations network has been active in Kosovo since 1993, principally through its Belgrade-based Fund for an Open Society-Yugoslavia (FOSY). Since August 1999, the Pristina office has been operating as an independent foundation, KFOS. With programs in media, civil society, education, and culture, up and running for more than six years, KFOS has a strong local presence and credibility in Kosovar society.

Flaka Surroi, seconded by UNICEF, has been appointed the executive director of the Fund. Fund management will report to a Board comprising representatives from the KFOS Board, Kosovar society, the Soros foundations network, and the World Bank. Future donors may also participate in the Board.

The Community Fund has strong support from the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and will liaise closely with UNMIK representatives, particularly at the local level. It is expected that UNMIK will help identify priorities for the Fund and facilitate relations with local authorities and communities.

The World Bank will provide technical assistance during the start-up of the Fund, drawing on experience in managing similar funds in over 25 countries, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the West Bank and Gaza, and many countries in Eastern and Central Europe. The Bank will also carefully monitor and evaluate the activities of the Fund and provide financial oversight and control.

Total planned financing, dependent on available financing, will be US$20 million, including US$1 million from the World Banks Post Conflict Fund and US$3 million tentatively committed from the Japanese Post Conflict Fund. Funding is being sought from other interested donors.

For more information on the Kosovo Fund for Community Initiatives, contact. Sarah Forster at sforster@worldbank.org or Flavia Surroi at kfos@soros.org.mk. For more information on the Economic Reconstruction and Development in Southeast Europe, visit the joint World Bank/European Commission website at http://www.seerecon.org/ .



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