Fojnica: Helping Government at the Grassroots Level

On Wednesday, January 12, I made my first visit to Fojnica in order to attend the opening of the municipality’s Citizen Service Center.  The Center was developed under USAID’s Governance Accountability Program – or GAP – with additional funding from the Governments of the Netherlands and Sweden. 

Fojnica is one of 72 municipalities throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina that has developed a Citizen Service Center.  Under this concept, GAP provides funding and assistance to construct a “one-stop shopping” facility for citizens seeking government services such as marriage licenses, birth certificates and building permits.  Since these modern, computerized centers provide efficient services to citizens, there is a marked improvement in the quality of local governance, thus strengthening democracy at the level where citizens most often interact with their governments. 

The dynamic Mayor of Fojnica, Mr. Salkan Merdzanic, hosted the opening ceremony and gave us a tour of the new center.  I was very impressed by the bright, large and well-organized room.  The government employees had already been trained on the new computer system and were very proud of their new capabilities of providing efficient services to their fellow citizens.  Many local residents attended the opening ceremony and were clearly impressed as they toured the Citizen Service Center. 

Fojnica is located in a beautiful setting.  It has both a historic Franciscan Monastery and a thermal spa.  The post-war closure of large manufacturing enterprises resulted in continuing high unemployment in the area, but Mayor Merdzanic and his team are working hard to strengthen the community and attract new business activities.  I look forward to returning to Fojnica with my family to enjoy the many attractions of the community.