Boljevac Pilot Demonstration Project
In 2012, RPC Researcher Jane Atterton was awarded project funding from SRUC's International Engagement Strategy to carry out detailed data collection in Boljevac, a small village located in central southern Serbia.
The project aimed to gather information from the villagers about the opportunities, needs, priorities and challenges facing the local community, and to use this information to inform the development of a strategy for sustainable local development in Boljevac and a larger-scale research proposal for further work in Boljevac and other rural communities across Serbia.
The data reveals a picture of a village in transition, with the poor availability of key services - in particular the road - holding back economic and social development and negatively affecting residents' quality of life. Although local residents' aspirations are relatively modest, there is potential to scale up agricultural production and the tourism offer in Boljevac, and scope to expand cooperation and community participation.
There are key lessons that can be learned from Boljevac by other similar villages in Serbia and elsewhere, including:
- the facilitation role for effective community development played by a key local actor (the schoolteacher in Boljevac);
- the engagement of committed local experts to help villagers meet individual and collective goals;
- the potential for strategic development of networks and economic cooperation;
- and the sustainability of an approach which aligns different stakeholders incentives and grounds the responsibility for and rewards of development within local communities.
This project has been undertaken in partnership with Richard Simmons at the University of Stirling, SRUC Researcher and RPC Associate Artur Steiner, and Steve Quarrie (Education Forum Serbia and Visiting Professor at the University of Newcastle).
Download the Research Report
Sustainable Rural Development in Serbia: Boljevac Pilot Demonstration Project