Canada has been present in the Balkans (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia) since 1990 supporting programs aimed at furthering peace, stability, and prosperity. CIDA's assistance in the Balkans was aligned with Canada's overall foreign policy objectives of maintaining peace and security. CIDA coordinated its efforts with other bilateral and multilateral donors, as well as with local governments and organizations, to ensure that programming was harmonized, met the needs of partner governments, and enhanced local ownership and sustainability. CIDA assisted countries to move closer to their goal of accession to the European Union by ensuring that projects promoted European standards.
A significant focus of CIDA's early programming was supporting multilateral peace-support operations and reconstruction efforts. Following the Kosovo crisis in 1999, CIDA programming was largely directed toward humanitarian assistance, with contributions amounting to more than $200 million for the Balkans between 1999 and 2001.
As the crisis subsided and peace was restored, CIDA's work evolved from a focus on security to one based on economic and social development in support of the region's transition. Further to broad-based consultations in 2003, CIDA programming focused on the development of responsive, accountable, and competent national government institutions that help protect citizens' safety and creating an enabling environment for social, political, and economic reform.
CIDA has completed its last cycle of programming focused on two broad sectors that were critical to the transition process and in line with the priorities of partner governments: the rule of law and health.
Between 1990 and 2010, CIDA invested more than $540 million in more than 800 development assistance projects in the Balkans. CIDA completed its bilateral programming there in December 2009.
Along with other donors and several Canadian government departments, CIDA funded emergency and humanitarian assistance to the region during times of crisis by delivering food aid; providing medical treatment; repairing schools, clinics, and houses; and assisting displaced populations. CIDA also made strong contributions to peacebuilding by supporting civilian police deployments to multilateral organizations, and through demining projects to help with the safe return of refugees.
In the health sector, CIDA programming resulted in greater public access to primary health care services, broadened awareness of HIV/AIDS, and strengthened community-based centres for the disabled.
In the rule of law sector, the introduction of alternative dispute resolution into the justice system increased efficiency and effectiveness. Public consultations in local planning are now the norm and have helped democratize local governance in several municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.