When the Association of Local Democracy Agencies (ALDA) was established in 1999, it brought together a network of Local Democracy Agencies (LDAs) in existence since 1993.
The LDAs were set up by the Council of Europe's Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (Congress). They were originally conceived to provide concrete assistance to war-ravaged municipalities in the former Yugoslavia through partnerships with counterparts in Western Europe. When the war in the Balkans ended, ALDA's focus shifted from crisis management to strengthening local democracy, with an emphasis on promoting tolerant and trust-based relationships within communities.
From the beginning, however, the method has been to establish partnerships between local and regional authorities and NGOs in the former Yugoslavia and their counterparts elsewhere in Europe.