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Serving the Underserved with Greater Accessibility in Montenegro

November 19, 2014


  • Gaining access to buildings was always problematic for Dejan Tmusic, a person with disabilities living in Montenegro – mostly because the buildings had been so badly constructed.
  • Dejan and about 9,000 other people have participated in debates on spatial and urban planning (SUP) to voice their opinions and influence the design and implementation of buildings, both private and public, in Montenegro.
  • As part of the World Bank Group’s Land Administration Management Project, working groups and discussions on SUP have so far helped to significantly reduce the number of poorly and illegally constructed buildings in Montenegro.

Dejan Tmusic is 40 years old and lives in Cetinje, a town of about 13,000 people in southern Montenegro. Dejan also has physical disabilities.

Along with about 2,200 other people with disabilities living in Cetinje, Dejan became extremely tired of watching the unstructured, dangerous, and socially non-inclusive way that the town’s physical infrastructure was expanding.

Over the past few decades, an estimated 3,000 buildings, both public and private, have been constructed around the town – many of them illegally. Builders often bypassed safety standards and zoning restrictions, and completely neglected the needs of people with disabilities. 

Increasingly concerned by this, Dejan decided to take action – he joined a group that monitors the implementation of legislation requiring all new public buildings to be accessible to people with disabilities. Dejan is part of the Working Group on Social Issues, one of several entities working with the World Bank Group as part of the Land Administration Management Project (LAMP).

" I joined the group to enable people with disabilities to be involved in a number of areas – education, employment, decision making, and infrastructure. "

Dejan Tmusic

Resident of Cetinje, Montenegro

LAMP is designed to advance real estate cadaster creation, improve registration of services, strengthen capacity to support the planning sector, and further develop the permitting process in Montenegro.

Since the project’s inception in 2008, more than 9,000 people have participated in debates on spatial and urban planning, helping to ensure that the concerns of all stakeholders are taken into consideration during project implementation and that the outcomes are as inclusive as possible. These efforts are helping to decrease illegal construction and ensure that buildings – especially public ones – are built according to code, thereby better serving the needs of everyone.

“I see improvement – both in the situation in general, as well as in people’s awareness,” said Dejan, following a recent meeting of the working group. “Through direct communication among the networks of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), almost half of the people with disabilities in Cetinje had a voice in the planning process,” he continued.

In six years of implementation, the LAMP project has helped bring about a reduction of more than 88% in the construction of illegal buildings – and as a result, increase significantly the number of buildings that Dejan and other people with disabilities can now access more easily.

“Every time a new public building is made accessible, I feel that our needs are being reflected,” concludes Dejan.

The youth of Cetinje have also benefitted. Last year, a day care center for young people with disabilities opened in the town, with support from the local municipality, the Ministry of Social Care, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The center accommodates up to 25 young people between the ages of 3 and 27 years, and provides help with their everyday needs.

The construction of the day care center, the huge reduction in illegal construction, and the enforcement of laws on spatial planning and construction of structures for accessibility are all highly positive developments for Cetinje, and ultimately for Montenegro.

The active participation of people like Dejan Tmusic in working groups that continue to influence these activities is also proof that a single voice, when multiplied several times over, can truly make a difference – for an individual, a community, and an entire country.