The elderly population in Montenegro, particularly pensioners, experience a low standard of living due to their material, social, and health status. This is particularly evident in smaller and more remote municipalities, such as Andrijevica, which has a population of approximately 4,500 inhabitants. Situated in the eastern Polimlje region of Montenegro, the elderly in Andrijevica face economic challenges as well as a lack of recreational and social activities, including sports and cultural events, and access to health care facilities. This situation was exacerbated during the pandemic, prompting the elderly in Andrijevica to take action to improve their quality of life.
Doko Elezovic, a 70-year-old former state-owned company manager, currently serves as the president of the Andrijevica Retirees Association, a non-governmental organisation funded by the membership contributions of those with low economic incomes. According to Mr. Elezovic, “Until recently, the situation for retirees in Andrijevica was dire due to their low wages, as well as the lack of recreational, social, and informational activities. “Recognising our situation and limited economic capacity, we sought assistance from donors to improve their quality of life and the UNDP and EU responded positively to our request,” said Mr. Elezovic.
The Andrijevica Retirees Association, under the leadership of Mr. Elezovic and with support from the UNDP and EU, launched the “Veterans” project. The project was funded through the Regional Programme for Local Democracy in the Western Balkans 2 (ReLOaD2). The project aimed to adapt space for the Pensioners’ Club, organise various recreational and social activities, and inform retirees about easier access to health care facilities. With this support, the association of retirees organised tours to nearby mountains, sessions on health, technology and computer use, and thematic evenings. “These activities were highly beneficial for elderly people in our municipality and literally transformed our lives in many ways,” said Mr. Elezovic.
The services provided by the “Veterans” project ensured better utilisation of pensioners’ time, encouraged their participation in the work of the Pensioners’ Club, connected the elderly in remote rural areas, and increased their satisfaction in various aspects of life. “The support provided by the EU-funded and UNDP-managed ReLOaDprogramme was highly crucial for us, as without it, we would not have been able to revitalise our association and make it useful for our members,” said Mr. Elezovic.
Mr. Elezovic and other members see a brighter future for the Andrijevica Retirees Association. They are already planning upcoming activities and hoping for more support from the government and donors.
About the project
The Regional Programme for Local Democracy in the Western Balkans 2 (ReLOaD2) is a continuation of EU-supported initiatives – Local Democracy Strengthening Project (LOD, 2009-2016) and the subsequently expanded Regional Program for Local Democracy in the Western Balkans (ReLOaD, 2017-2020). The overall objective of the project is to strengthen participatory democracies and EU integration in the Western Balkans by empowering civil society and encouraging young people to actively take part in the decision-making process, and by improving a supportive legal and financial environment for civil society.
Photo credits: UNDP
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