USAID and the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) recently signed grant agreements with civil society organizations (CSOs) in Serbia for the implementation of advocacy projects which will take concrete steps to bring about changes in government accountability and transparency; social and economic rights; and environmental protection.
Since 2006, USAID’s Civil Society program has provided local civil society organizations in Serbia with $8.3 million in support. Projects are selected through an open application process. Of the 194 applications received, 29 semi-finalists were identified as having the highest potential to effect changes through their efforts. Through USAID’s project, these 29 organizations received training in advocacy and communication strategies to incorporate some of the lessons learned into their projects. The applicants revised their applications after the training, and CSAI’s Evaluation Committee chose 16 CSOs in which to support with funding ranging from $20,000 to $40,000. The total amounted awarded to this round of applicants is approximately $600,000.
“Civil society activists and organizations work to improve the quality of people’s lives and protect their rights, hold leaders accountable to their constituents, shine light on abuses in both the public and private sectors, and advance the rule of law and social justice,” noted USAID’s Mission Director Michael Harvey and added: “We believe that true progress comes from within a society and cannot be imposed from the outside. We know that change can not occur overnight, which is why we seek to work with civil society organizations to try to build local capacity in local organizations and individuals to create sustainable change.”
The 16 CSOs selected to receive funding are: Alternative Dispute Resolution Center, Incest Trauma Center, NGO Document, Serbia on the Move, Civic Library Pirgos, YUCOM Center, Zrenjanin Educational Center, Ethnicity Research Center, Citizen Association Sretenje, Women’s Space, Center for Democracy Foundation, Ecological Association Heliks, Association of People with Disabilities Fenix, Bureau for Social Research, Association for the Development of Creativity, and Zlatibor Circle. These CSO were selected because they are best positioned to champion the grassroots issues that concern their communities.
U.S. Ambassador Mary Warlick subsequently met with the grant winners to hear more about their activities. The Ambassador shared her opinion that, “A pro-active and engaged Civil Society is absolutely essential for the proper functioning of any democracy. That’s why Milosevic did his best to suppress civil society, because he saw it as a threat. And, he was right, as grass roots movements did play a crucial role in helping to bring about the changes which occurred here and in installing a democratic political system.”
USAID will continue to work with the civil society sector in Serbia in order to help lay the ground work for a more inclusive and vibrant civil society, where citizens are actively engaged in determining the kind of society they live in.
Fore more information about the USAID-supported Civil Society Organizations, and a map of the locations they work in, please visithttp://www.iscserbia.org/where_we_work/