The social development bank in Europe

The CEB’s role in managing the Regional Housing Programme has generated unrivalled opportunities to learn and enhance our working practices.

Regional Housing Programme team
Regional Housing Programme team
The Regional Housing Programme (RHP) aims to help resolve the situation of the most vulnerable refugees in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia (the “Partner Countries”) who were displaced following the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. This flagship initiative has had a significant positive impact on fostering reconciliation and improving regional cooperation.  

The programme, which is part of the larger Sarajevo process and is endorsed by the international community, was founded by partner stakeholders: the four Partner Countries, the EU, the U.S., the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).  

Creating a robust structure

The founding partners entrusted the management of the RHP and the RHP Fund to the CEB – the first time the Bank would implement a programme of this size and complexity.  

In 2012, in consultation with the stakeholders, the CEB established a multi-level governance and coordination structure for the RHP, which it has since managed through its roles as the programme’s finance institution, fund manager and secretariat. The CEB is a flexible institution, responsive to challenges, and the support from its many departments has enabled the Bank to create a multifaceted structure that continues to work well.  

“We have been very lucky to have managed to put together a team which consists of highly qualified people with strong expertise in their own specific field and who know the Western Balkans’ region,” explains Marja Seppala, Head of the RHP Secretariat and RHP Coordinator. 

An opportunity to learn

The Bank’s unique and vital role in the programme has also opened up valuable opportunities to learn on an international level.  

For example, the EU has pledged €232 million to the programme, making it by far the largest RHP donor. This close co-operation with the EU has deepened CEB’s understanding of how to channel EU funds. It is also the first time the Bank has obtained grant funds from the U.S., which has to-date made three contributions to the RHP Fund.  

“Both the EU and the U.S. are very active in daily RHP operations,” says Marja Seppala. “This brings us a lot of expertise and valuable support, also thanks to their extensive presence in the region.” The other main donors - Germany, Norway, Switzerland and Italy - have also been active counterparts, bringing further added value to the implementation.  

The CEB’s involvement in the programme has also presented a unique opportunity to create successful ‘modus operandi’ with the UNHCR and OSCE. Both organisations contribute much to the RHP in the areas of beneficiary selection and protection, as well as sustainability aspects, through their strong expertise and presence on the ground.  

Tackling challenges together

Marja Seppala concludes: “The RHP is a big and complex programme. But, so far, we have always managed to deliver up to the expectations, and – very importantly – in a good atmosphere and respect of one another. By combining different skills under one team, complex issues can be tackled efficiently, fully in line with the CEB’s legal framework, rules and regulations.”

More at  regionalhousingprogramme.org

RHP in figures

  • 28,000

    beneficiaries

  • €217 million

    cost of projects

  • 1,900

    housing units completed in 2017