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Joint Initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society on the Western Balkans and Turkey

The ‘Joint Initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society on the Western Balkans and Turkey’, co-financed by the European Union, sets up a supporting facilitating structure for (pro) Roma civil society to actively participate in the local and national policy and decision making process.

This project is supported by the European Commission through the IPA Civil Society Facility and Media Programme 2014 – 2015

It addresses the generally weak position of civil society organisations (CSOs) aiming at promoting Roma integration or represent the voice of communities, which mostly lack the capacity to make their case effectively and act as a reliable counterpart for public authorities and other stakeholders.

Roma Active Albania (RAA) is the lead applicant and coordinator of the project in cooperation with ERGO Network.

It aims to establish a constructive and systematic dialogue between local and national authorities and Roma CSOs in order to improve policies for Roma integration, social inclusion, non-discrimination, interethnic dialogue, socio-economic development and citizens’ rights.

Project Intervention Logic and Specific Objectives

The project followed an integrated trajectory to enhance the ability of Civil Society in the target countries to play these crucial roles and to improve policy development and delivery. The project:

1. Builds the capacities of the partners to successfully manage the programme, take up a steering role at national level and become respected partners to authorities. It also identifies and addresses capacity building needs of at least 10 relevant Roma organisations in 6 countries so that they can articulate a forceful voice and give valuable contributions to the policy and decision making process, both at local and national level.

Specific objective 1: to strengthen the professional capacity, legitimacy and accountability of (pro) Roma CSOs and to enhance their long-term strategic organisational planning.

2. Establishes a support, exchange and coordinating structure for at least 10 Roma CSOs in each country to advocate towards and enter into systematic dialogue with authorities at local level.  Their work is, crucially, supported by a re-granting facility within the project that supports local actions (financial support to third parties).

Specific objective 2: to raise awareness of model approaches for Roma inclusion (pathways out of social exclusion) and achieve structural changes in local public policies by creating strategic partnerships with other civil society, local institutions, municipalities and other stakeholders.

3. Gathers these organisations into national coalitions in 6 countries that advocate and monitor policy delivery at local and national level. The coalitions aim to establish a constructive and systematic dialogue with national public authorities. The national coalitions also contribute to the annual review of their country’s performance in the frame of the EU accession process.

Specific objective 3: to contribute to more effective policies and keep governments accountable in policy development, decision-making and implementation.

4. The project brings together organisations from the 6 target countries in regional meetings to share experiences, coordinate common actions and facilitate input into the international review mechanisms in the region (EU accession process and the intergovernmental work conducted in the Regional Cooperation Council).

Specific objective 4: to foster regular networking of (pro) Roma CSOs at regional and EU level and facilitate the exchange of knowledge, skills and connections, and increasing and widening their impact in campaigning and advocacy.

The activities that contribute to these four objectives are divided into three work packages:

Work Packages

  1. Capacity-building

Activities that aim at equipping Roma CSOs with the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to fully participate in local policy development, decision-making processes and policy monitoring.

  • Networking and advocacy

Development and implementation of advocacy strategies at local, national as well as the regional (international) level.  In addition to the capacity building and support activities, the work of the CSOs at local level is assisted through a re-granting facility.  

  • Monitoring and accountability

Contribute to more effective policies and programmes for Roma integration by pursuing (shadow) monitoring at local and national level. The results of this monitoring should help policy reviews and at the same time strengthen accountability mechanisms: CSOs can pursue evidence based advocacy, which empowers them and strengthens their legitimacy