The village of Cabra in northern Kosovo, about 10 kilometers away from Mitrovica, was completely destroyed during the war. When peace came, survivors returned to their torn-down homes and rebuilt them with the help of local and international humanitarian organizations. Despite reconstruction efforts, Cabrans lacked a health clinic and were required to go to the city of Mitrovica to receive health care...that is, until 2005 when the Community Development Fund helped them build a small local clinic.
One of the doctors serving in Cabra's clinic is Vllaznim Hoti, who until the end of 2009 travelled from Mitrovica to the village clinic twice a week. Doctor Hoti explained the cases he was checking were often quite serious, though those with serious illnesses are still sent for treatment to Mitrovica. "We have cases of flu, but we also see other cases of lung, heart, and kidney problems."
He has now left room for a full-time Cabra doctor, a long held wish for many Cabra residents, including Fatmire Mehmeti, the young mother of a five year old girl who was at the clinic to be treated for the flu.
"Now it is easier, we don't have to go to Mitrovice. But we wish the doctor came everyday and not just twice a week," said Ms. Mehmeti.
Many villages in Kosovo are enjoying newly rebuilt or newly constructed infrastructure and services, which were hit hard by both the armed conflict and decades of neglect.
Some 320 projects conducted under the Community Development Fund (CDF) project from 2001-2008 have been a significant contribution towards this improvement in the lives of individuals and communities across Kosovo.
The Fund was set up in 1999 as a local NGO and was chosen to carry out the implementation of the post-conflict project, which received $8 million in grant money from the World Bank. The funding was part of special support provided through the International Development Association - the World Bank's fund for the poorest countries - for Kosovo's reconstruction and recovery, mobilized in response to its emergency condition after the conflict in 1998-99. The Government of Netherlands also contributed US$4 million to the trust fund.
The project aimed to increase the quantity and quality of infrastructure and services in poor and conflict-affected communities as well as the most vulnerable groups, and to promote local capacity building including participation and empowerment.
Hida Hasani is employed at the Cabra clinic as a nurse, assisting her villagers every weekday and when needed on the weekends. "I live here and I have a house here, they all know my telephone number, so no matter if during working hours or after hours, I am here for them," she proudly exclaims.
The clinic in Cabra is one of the five health clinics constructed with grants, and another two-thirds of the projects were to build or upgrade schools or water supply systems.
After years of failed water supply systems and the destruction of some systems during the conflict, the CDF financed the rehabilitation of the system and people finally have running water in their homes. According to a review carried out by the CDF in consultation with stakeholders, a direct outcome of the CDF's water supply projects has been a dramatic reduction of waterborne diseases. For example, in the project area of Bakshi and Raskovë villages with 1,520 beneficiaries, the number of people suffering from waterborne diseases dropped from 84 to 0. In Petrove village, out of 5,220 beneficiaries, the number dropped from 98 to 12.
An additional important outcome of the water supply systems financed by the CDF II Project has been the elimination of time and effort in carrying water. For example, in another study carried out by the CDF, prior to the water supply project in the area of Bakshi and Raskovë villages, 160 people carried water 200 meters. The time and effort in doing so has been completely eliminated as an outcome of the project.
"We did not have water, so we had to bring it from the neighbors [who had wells]. You cannot do anything without water," says Kimete Haziri, a housewife living in the conflict-destroyed village of Krajkove in central Kosovo. When the CDF repaired the water system here, it created a reservoir and installed a pump and underground pipes going through the village. Over 170 families and 400 people got running water in their houses in Krajkove alone.
"The water supply system was a good idea! It is much easier now, for the children and for everyone", says Kimete Haziri. Women benefit from the water supply projects in particular, as they are primarily responsible for gathering water.
The CDF financed projects reached tens of thousands of direct beneficiaries. Infrastructure projects were also conducted in Serbian and other minority communities, as well as in mixed communities. Communities are now enjoying potable water in their homes, rehabilitated and warmer schools for their children, cleaner and safer sewerage systems, access roads to neighboring communities, and multi-purpose community centers and local market places. The latter, in particular, have helped strengthen social interaction and provided incentives to the young to remain in local areas, thus stemming the tendency for rural-urban migration. Infrastructure projects also generated thousands of days of labor which was an important contribution, given Kosovo's very high unemployment rate.
The social service projects cover a wide range of services including youth, women, and the disabled. Some particularly innovative projects included multi-ethnic camps, computer courses for the handicapped, and bee-keeping and flower cultivation for widows.
Women were specifically targeted as beneficiaries of some the projects, which range from a cooperative milk collection where cow milk is delivered by 20 women, to health education for 243 women from five villages, particularly new and expecting mothers. A third project provided legal advice to women and taught them about their legal rights.