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Manual for Sustainable Return

Part II - Operational Guidelines - Return Projects Process

The Returns Projects Process describes the tools available to develop and implement the facilitated return of group of displaced persons to a particular location. The process fundamentally depends on indications of demand to return and on matching resources to priorities set within the Returns Projects Process. The central goal of this process is to ensure that returns projects are prepared and prioritised, and that they are funded. A credible and transparent process for project development and prioritisation is a crucial tool to securing donor support for returns efforts. From the identification of a "returns need" 8 to the implementation of a returns project, there are various possible elements in the Returns Projects Process. It must be emphasised, however, that these elements can and should be occurring simultaneously with regard to the development of different projects - in other words, there is not a single point in time in which gaps are identified, and concept papers are prepared. Instead, the Returns Projects Process is available and should respond at all moments to newly identified returns needs.

Projects Where Funding Is Already Secured As noted above, in some cases donors will have already identified projects and NGO implementing partners, eliminating the need for the early stages of the process outlined below. Such projects are fast-tracked and need only to be presented to the Municipal Working Group for endorsement before the donor makes a final decision on project funding and implementation. This step is critical, since involvement by the participants in the Municipal Working Group will be essential for successful implementation of virtually any return initiative.

Recognition of Displaced Persons' Expressed
Wish and Identification of Returns Needs

The Returns Projects Process relies fundamentally on recognising and responding to the expressed wishes of displaced persons to return. The process of identifying returns needs occurs in a variety of ways, and draws on a number of sources of information. Displaced persons learn about the process to be assisted to return and conditions in their pre-conflict home communities from members of their community residing in Kosovo, other members of their ethnic community from the immediate area, IDPs displaced in the municipality or immediate area of origin, NGOs, through "Go and Inform Visits" and "Go and See Visits", and through other informal ways (e.g. media or personal visits to their places of origin, or the joint Information Framework project).

Non- Governmental Organisations working within displaced communities also play an important role by meeting with those interested in returning, and by identifying return needs. Exchange of information during Go and See Visits provides a further indication of displaced persons wishes and returns needs. Displaced persons associations and organisations engage with international organisations and MWGs to indicate the return needs of particular communities or individuals. In identifying return needs, displaced persons, NGOs, and all those involved in the returns process can draw on assessments and information gathered, such as profiles or assessments of villages or neighbourhoods from which people have been displaced, Returns Location Profiles, where available; Municipal Working Groups can also pull together additional profiles where information is considered insufficient. KFOR/KPS security assessments regarding pre-conflict minority inhabited villages and neighbourhoods are key elements of this process. Municipal Working Groups provide an opportunity for all those involved in the returns process to share information regarding return needs, and to discuss areas in which returns needs have been identified.

Preparation of Concept Papers

Once returns needs are identified, the next step in the Returns Projects Process is the development of concept papers that outline returns projects to meet the identified returns needs. Municipal Working Groups will encourage all interested parties to develop concept papers for identified returns needs. In requesting concept papers, Municipal Working Groups are recommended to design a Framework identifying the broad needs to be met by the project (including those of the receiving community) within four possible project "sectors": 1) housing reconstruction/repossession assistance; 2) infrastructure; 3) employment and income generation programme; and 4) interethnic dialogue, integration and community activities.

The Chair of the MWG can appoint a member of the MWG to draft the Framework for Concept Papers. Assistance from the Regional Returns Unit can be requested if needed. The Chair of the MWG will distribute the Framework and the Concept Paper Outline (see Annex) to all partners interested in developing and presenting Concept Papers. Concept papers will most commonly be developed by NGOs who have an interest in implementing the proposed project. However, concept papers may also be developed by Municipal Working Group members (UNMIK, UNHCR, KFOR, Municipal Authorities, etc.), or by displaced persons or their representatives. The Chair of the MWG will set a deadline for interested NGOs, members of the MWG as well as others, to develop concept papers in response to the Framework for Concept Papers. Municipal structures,
through the MWG, will be available to provide NGOs and others with information considered relevant to contribute to the compilation of a concept paper for the proposed project.

Concept papers reviewed and prioritised by Municipal Working Groups

The MWG is responsible for reviewing Concept Papers submitted by partners based on the Criteria for Considering Concept Papers by MWGs (see Annex 5). Particular focus will be given to assess if a demonstrated (and informed) willingness of displaced persons to return is reflected and if the returns process proposed in the Concept Paper is sustainable. Concept papers also describe a project in sufficient detail for the
MWG to evaluate the sustainability and cost of the proposed project, and to evaluate the implementing organisation's capacity and relevant expertise Preference will be given during the review of concept papers to implementing organisations that propose a multi-sectoral approach covering all relevant sectors. At the same time, not all implementing organisations have the capacity or expertise to undertake multi-sectoral projects. In such cases, implementing organisations are encouraged to join with other NGOs (particularly national NGO's) and to submit concept papers reflecting a "consortium" approach to the project.

Finally, implementing partners that are unable to submit concept papers addressing a full project, or to join in a consortium that does so, should submit a concept paper that describes the component of the project the NGO would be prepared to implement. In such cases, MWGs may consider linking partial submissions to arrive at a comprehensive, multi-sectoral approach to the proposed project. As described in further detail in the Concept Paper Outline, concept papers that demonstrate the strategic use of the components of the project to enhance the sustainability of the project are encouraged (e.g. efforts to involve the whole community in the programme through including infrastructure components that benefit both the returning and the receiving community). In addition, concept papers must clearly demonstrate a "demand-driven" approach by articulating the methods that will be used to determine the level of interest within the displaced persons community in the proposed location, and to engage the displaced persons community in the project's development and implementation. Concept papers should be formatted in accordance with the "Concept Paper Outline", and should include the following components: objectives, outputs, indicators, activities, and finally an estimated budget and timeline. The MWG articipants will then endorse Concept Papers. As set forth, MWGs will preferably decide by consensus. In case this is not reached, the final authority relies on the Chair of the MWG
(Municipal Administrator). Furthermore, NGOs or others submitting concept papers will have a role in the MWGs discussion of the paper, but will remain observers during the endorsement and prioritisation process, based on the potential for conflicts of interest.

Municipal Working Groups will review concept papers on a rolling basis (as they come in) to determine whether a proposed project addresses an identified need in a manner consistent with returns policies articulated in the May 2002 Concept Paper for Sustainable Returns. In particular, concept papers should discuss the demand for the project from potential beneficiaries, as well as the process that will be used for selection of beneficiaries. Based on the review of the concept papers, Municipal Working Groups endorse possible projects. Where multiple concept papers are submitted within a municipality or for a single location, the Municipal Working Group prioritises the proposed projects to reflect the Guiding Principles stated above. Again, this process occurs on a rolling basis, as new concept papers are received. In evaluating differing concepts for the same locations, preference will be given to concept papers that propose a multi-sectoral approach covering all relevant sectors.

Regional review and prioritisation

Municipal Working Groups will compile a list of municipal level prioritised concept papers. The list of prioritised municipal concept papers will be forwarded to the regional level, where the list is discussed and reviewed by the Regional Working Group.

Regional Working Groups compile a prioritised regional list of proposed projects based on the input from Municipal Working Groups and on specific criteria: ethnic proportionality, geographic proportionality, vulnerability, sustainability, and efficiency (cost per beneficiary).

In preparing the projects list, the Regional Working Group ocuses on the extent to which the proposed project is consistent with returns policies and principles, and in particular on the extent to which the project responds to demand from displaced persons.

Preparation of the Kosovo Prioritised Projects List

The regional projects lists are forwarded to the Returns Coordination Group. The eturns Coordination Group has responsibility for developing (and updating) an overall, Kosovo-wide Prioritised Projects List. To achieve that objective, the Returns Coordination Group will rely on a Technical Advisory Board (TAB). The TAB's membership includes, in addition to the members of the Returns Coordination Group, representatives from NGO implementing organisations and the donor community. Members of the TAB will include individuals with particular technical expertise in project design and implementation. The Returns Coordination Group will establish criteria for project review to be applied by the TAB9. The TAB will review concept papers and regional projects lists, and will make recommendations to the Returns Coordination Group regarding the compiled Prioritised Projects List. The Returns Coordination Group compiles and updates the Prioritised Projects List, based on recommendations from the TAB.

Circulation of the Prioritised Project List

The Prioritised Projects List is the primary tool for soliciting donor funding for returns projects. ORC, UNHCR, and other members of the Returns Coordination Group, circulate the Prioritised Projects List to potential donors and implementing organisations. Efforts by all those involved in the returns process regarding solicitation of returns-related funds should be consistent with the Prioritised Projects List, and should be coordinated with ORC.

Solicitation and preparation of full proposals

Donors interested in projects included on the Prioritised Projects List will solicit full proposals in accordance with their own requirements. Where the concept paper for a project on the prioritised list has been developed by an implementing organisation, donors will be encouraged to work through the organisation that submitted the endorsed concept paper. Full project proposals should be consistent with the concept paper approved by the Municipal Working Group, and with the returns policies set forth in the Concept Paper for Sustainable Return.

Development of Multi-Sectoral Project Proposals

Full project proposals will be solicited and developed only after a project concept has been endorsed by the MWG, and a donor has indicated interest in funding the project. In instances where implementing organisations already have funding, they will be requested to submit directly a detailed multi-sectoral project proposal to the MWG and RWG. Full project proposals must be in accordance with the Return Beneficiary Assistance Criteria and the guidelines for multisectoral projects which highlight the requirements for the housing reconstruction assistance, the construction of infrastructure programme, the employment or income generation programme, and the interethnic dialogue or community activities. IP's are encouraged to work with other national and international NGO's who have particular expertise in one sector. They should also work in consultation with local administration.

Final review of full proposals

Once a full proposal has been prepared and has been preliminarily selected by a donor, donors and implementing partners will be asked to submit the proposal for a final review by the relevant Municipal Working Group before the donor gives its final approval and provides funding for the project. This step will help ensure that the final proposal is consistent with the guidelines developed for returns projects, and will be essential to ensure the Municipal Working Group's involvement and assistance in implementation of the project. The MWG's role at this stage, however, is only to review the proposal, and to raise questions or make suggestions that the donor may want to address with the implementing partner, not to provide a detailed evaluation of the project. If the proposal raises substantial concerns, these should be referred to the

Returns Coordination

Group and ORC for discussion with the donor. Proposal is funded Following the final review of the full proposal by the Municipal Working Group, the donor selects an implementing partner and provides funding for the returns project.


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