Social services for vulnerable population groups

Project description

Title: Social services for vulnerable population groups 
Comissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Serbia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs
Overall term: 2018 to 2022



Since the break-up of Yugoslavia, the Republic of Serbia has been striving to achieve economic stabilisation and convergence with the European Union (EU). Following the economic and financial crisis of 2008, the Serbian economy is once again experiencing growth and reduced budget deficit. However, high unemployment rates and widespread poverty continue to present major challenges, particularly among vulnerable population groups.

By adopting a national anti-discrimination strategy for 2013–2018, the Serbian Government has set itself the goal of tackling all forms of discrimination. The strategy covers vulnerable groups such as ethnic and religious minorities, women, homosexuals, bisexuals, transgenders, people with disabilities, the elderly, children, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). Despite improvements in human rights, action is still needed to ensure equal treatment for vulnerable groups, which often have limited access to social services. 


The needs-based provision of social services for vulnerable population groups in selected municipalities has improved. 


The measure pursues a multi-stakeholder approach that includes state and non-state actors and involves the active participation of vulnerable sections of the population. Project activities comprise empowerment of the municipalities in aligning the provision of social services more closely to their needs. In addition, the project is improving the general conditions and capacity for monitoring social services provision and the implementation of national strategies.

It also aims to support local and national actors in performing their roles more effectively and independently. At local level, the focus is on an advisory and supportive approach tailored to the specific needs of the municipalities. Experience, approaches and requirements are then fed back to the national level and are incorporated into policy-making.


The project contributes to the aim of the programme on Promoting Good Governance in Serbia, which supports local and national state institutions and actors in structuring their work more efficiently, transparently and based on needs.

It advises the Ministry on implementing the revised strategy for social protection and establishes cooperation formats and communication channels between social services planning at local level and implementation of the strategy at national level. As part of the project, standards and criteria for the provision of social services, including financing, are being developed and fine-tuned. The part of the project concerned with monitoring addresses both the collection of relevant data and the supervision of local and national institutions and focuses on developing needs-driven services involving users. Activities also include promoting exchange between municipalities and centres for social work, as well as outreach measures to ensure that vulnerable population groups are targeted more effectively.

Last updated: September 2020

Additional information