Foundation for Local Government Reform
Rural Network and Leader
In May 2006 started the realization of the "Rural Network and LEADER" project, which is a partner initiative between the Government of Republic of Bulgaria, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, the United Nations Development Programme and the Foundation for Local Government Reform.

The project will raise the awareness and will strengthen the capacities of rural communities and stakeholders for planning and using financial resources through networking, as well as through design and implementation of integrated local area development strategies. At the same time the project will enhance the inter-municipal cooperation, especially among small municipalities, and will facilitate the creation of horizontal links among rural actors, including public-private partnerships. The project will target grass-root level activation in five geographical areas.

The project expands and furthers the efforts and results achieved by the joint project Sustainable Development of Rural Areas of the UNDP and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests for the establishment of 11 Local Action Groups following the model of the EU Leader+ Initiative for Development of Rural Regions. In addition, the project builds on the work carried out by the Foundation for Local Government Reform with regard to the formation of the National Rural Development Network in Bulgaria.

As a result from the implementation of the project activities, the first steps towards the actual formation of the National Rural Development Network will be at place. In addition, the project will build on and strengthen the capacity of 11 Leader Groups in the municipalities of Trun, Vurshets, Yakoruda, Gurmen, Belitsa, Satovcha, Madjarovo, Kirkovo, Ardino, Ivaylovgrad and Topolovgrad and will facilitate the expansion of their best practices and experience into another Bulgarian municipalities in five focus areas. While supporting the consolidation and capacity building of the Local Action Groups, the project will organize formal training and hands-on practice in the field for a group of Leader practitioners (moderators), who will work with the local groups and in the future will constitute Bulgaria`s core experts group in Leader and will be able to support the implementation of the Leader approach nationwide.

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