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TACIS 1997CIVIL SOCIETY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME The Micro Grant Scheme
The NGO component of the Civil Society comprises a scheme for micro grants – grants up to 50 000 EUROs for projects of up to 12 months duration. • The total budget foreseen is 661 000 EUROs. • Beneficiaries are local non-governmental and non-profit organisations.
The objectives of the CSDP programme are to strengthen civil society and improve the humanitarian situation in Belarus. • The CSDP Micro projects encompass a range of activities that – taken all together - aim at : • strengthening the capacity of local non-governmental and non-profit organisations working in the social sector, • addressing the consequences of the Chernobyl accident, • promotion of democracy and human rights in Belarus.
The European Commission conducted two Calls for Proposals and more than 30 information seminars in 19 towns in Belarus. • NGOs responded with great interest and readiness to discuss the problems in Belarus, the CSDP, relations with the European Union.
Responding to the specific needs of Belarus • Language for the call for proposal – In addition to English, Bielorussian and Russian were added. • Scope of the programme and sectors – To meet the demands of the Bielorussian Civil Society, and on the basis of the applications received in the first round, Commission included in the scope of the programme issues that are more specific to Belarus. They are (1) Chernobyl related problems, (2) assistance to children, schools, Orphanages etc. (3) Improving health care (4) Activities in support of Women and Children. • Partners – In many cases Bielorussian NGOs requested the collaboration of Ministries and government bodies, to enhance the effectiveness and generalize the results of projects. For this reason Commission allowed other non profit partners, such as Universities, Public institutions (Schools, Orphanages), and government bodies, to participate as partners in the projects. This provided that only a minor part of the grant was reserved for activities of this type of partner, and only for support of the main activity of the beneficiary NGO.
The number of eligible and complete proposals received was 126. • The Delegation identified 33 projects (for 32 contracts) for a total budget of about 650 000 EUROs, committing almost all the available budget.
Geographical and thematic distribution of micro -projects • 17 projects (around 50%) have been proposed from Minsk based NGOs, reflecting the predominance of Minsk in the third sector of Belarus. • Among the other regions, Gomel and Brest regions have many projects, Vitesbk region has only two projects approved, while Mogyliov and Grodno regions do not have any projects approved.
The large majority of the projects 7 deal with issues of disability-diseases (terminal, contagious) and/or forms of social disadvantages and social abuse (7 – including 2 projects with marginal prisoners groups). • To the promotion of democratic values, H.R., good local government and the third sector are dedicated 9 projects. Some of them are dedicated in part also to social assistance (e.g., defence of “HR” for children victims of abuses). • To Chernobyl related issues are directly dedicated 5 projects. Finally, 7 projects are dedicated to the young people and 4 to women and gender issues.
Conclusion • An overall conclusion is that, in spite of various difficulties it has been possible to obtain good results in the implementation of the CSDP.
Since the start of the Civil Society Development Programme, civil society in Belarus grew progressively stronger. • Between the first and the second round of the call for proposals for micro-projects in the CSDP, the quality of applications improved remarkably. Both Calls for Proposals reflected higher quality with respect to the first call for proposals for macro-projects. • The second round of call for proposals for micro-projects proved the existence of a number of NGOs with good accounting practise and ability to design in details high quality project proposals.
Belarusian regions differ sharply among themselves in respect to the situation of the Civil Society. Large differences also exist among major towns and the countryside.
In general, in main regional centres NGOs are comparatively well established. Usually they have offices provided by regional or municipal authorities at favourable rates, and are interested in seeking recognition for their role in the society by the general public and the authorities. In parts of the countryside the situation is rather more difficult and NGOs see their role entirely misinterpreted or not appreciated. Often they still receive public support in the form of offices etc. but are marginalized both from authorities and within the local community.
In the most backward areas the issues of concern for all local NGOs is still their legal existence. Registration, legal address, fulfilment of requirements about a minimum number of members, are still their main concerns. • Another important difference to highlight is between old NGOs that came into existence and were active in Soviet times, and the new ones borne after the independence of Belarus. While the latter have registered unquestionable progress, the former type of NGOs has little experience in modern practise of NGOs life and organisation. There are, however, important exceptions, like the Belarussian Union of Women and Trade Unions, which point to a great potential of transformation for the more traditional type of NGOs.
It is important to stress the success of the Tacis method. The importance of the demand-driven and dialogue-based approach to identification and implementation of common activities/projects. • This is at the root of the peaceful, but engaging Tacis method, which proved its value in the difficult context of the current Belarussian history.