INDEPENDENT NET: Civic Association for Development, Cooperation, and Public Control (I-NET)
Sonce, North Macedonia
Bjelina city administration, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Individual activists have been identified as partners in Kaloyanovo,Sotirya,Gavrailovo, Samuilovo,Krushare,Kermen. Agreements will with local and international partners will be signed upon approval.
To address the identified challenges before of civic participation deficit and reluctance of local administration to open to stakeholders and to involve them in the decision-making process, the project will pilot a network of six Civic Impact Hubs in Sliven region. The learning by doing approach will empower local communities, ensuring sustainability of results and potential for peer-to-peer transfer of results and models.
Sliven municipality: town of Kermen,villages of Kaloyanovo, Sotirya, Gavrailovo, Samuilovo, Krushare
The 6 participating municipalities from Sliven region face a civic participation deficit due to the reluctance of local administration to cooperate with stakeholders and to involve them in the decision-making process. Providing support to local civic activists to set up Impact Hubs at local level and empowering the grass-root level through learning-by-doing training, the project will address the situation that challenges the essence of democracy and local self-governance. Fostering the feeling of responsibility and ownership over public processes is a mechanism that eventually boosts development. The envisaged hubs-network will increase their impact potential. The involvement of the local youth will ensure sustainability of results.
Involving communities in decision-making process, enhancing cooperation between public authorities and stakeholders at local level and creating networks for civic mobilization and support, are key elements of democratic governance and preconditions for development of communities and regions. Lack of awareness about the importance of civic participation among stakeholders and the reluctance of public authorities to promote, foster and enhance it, is a no-win situation with lasting negative impact. By raising awareness and mobilizing local youth of the 6 communities in Sliven region, establishing civic impact mechanisms at local level, and providing hands-on-training, the project will foster citizens’ engagement and solution-oriented cooperation with local authorities.
The targeted project participants will be also the end-users of results. The Civic Impact Hubs will aim at engaging a wider range of local stakeholders (NGOs, business, elderly/youth/ women organizations, Roma and other ethnic communities), initiating a process of cooperation with LSGs and supporting the decision-making and the problem-solving processes at local level. The network between the 6 Impact Hubs will boost the civic activism in and respectively the development of Sliven region, characterized by: high % of Roma population (11%), of people living in material deprivation (33,6%) and below the poverty line (35,6%), 9% unemployment, and very high dropout rate (9% from primary, 6% from secondary education).
The intervention will enable sustainable community empowerment through:
1.Capacity building–raising awareness and transfer of knowledge at grass root & LSG level, support mobilization (information campaigns, meetings)
2.Inspirational meetings with experts and international peers
3.Hands-on problem-solving training (6 local initiatives on community problems identified through 6 sociological surveys)
4.Establishment of 6 Impact Hubs, connected in a network
5.Ensuring sustainability – mapping stakeholders at local and regional level, development of Guidebook, multiplication of model and network expanding
6.Media campaign & dissemination of results through public events
The expert-based user-centred approach will ensure that stakeholders become drivers of positive community change.
The increased capacities at LSG level, the raised awareness and increased civic activism among stakeholders, and the provided hands-on training will enable the established Civic Impact Hubs, connected in a network, to start functioning before the end of the project lifetime. As a part of the training, the project will pilot 1 problem-solving initiative in each community (defined and implemented by the local stakeholders) which will aim at the development of an Action plan as a minimum. Fostering cooperation between authorities and communities, equipping local civic leaders with knowledge and tools for mobilising support will empower stakeholders to take over ownership of their future. Mapping of players and development of guidelines will enable multiplication of project results.
According to the Democracy Index 2019 (of EUI), Bulgaria falls behind most of the European countries due to underdeveloped political culture, low levels of participation in politics, and issues in the functioning of governance. Aiming at increasing the citizens’ engagement and participation in the decision-making process, at increasing the capacities of local public administration and at fostering the cooperation among stakeholders, the project directly addresses the identified challenges at European level and transferring of models, standards and values, supports the sustainable community development. In Europe of Regions, positive changes at local level and the functioning transnational and local support networks are preconditions for quality democratic governance and development.
The project proposal is directly related to the mission of I-NET: development of a network of independent civic activists, groups and organisations aiming at contributing to local and regional development through active participating in the public and political life. I-NET believes that future is in hands of citizens and when they are aware, responsible, and willing to join efforts for the public good, the future will be brighter and better. Efficient and accountable democratic governance requires citizens’ involvement and dedication, which cannot be engineered. It is a process that can be inspired. The Civic Impact Hubs are the pilot inspiration channels that will eventually bring in a positive change to the Bulgarian society at large.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
6 500 Project Management: administration,technical assistance,accounting,IT, stationary&utilities
14 200 Implementation of field-activities&logistic: 6 Hub’s kick-off support meetings,12 workshops,1 regional and 1 final dissemination event, travel costs, accommodation & meals
14 700 Expert support: moderators, lecturers, interpreters, researches, trainers, sociologists
12 500 Communication campaign: visual identity, web site, Facebook, content design, media campaign, guidebook, info-materials
As a knowledge and idea hub, the project team expects that the platform can provide information about successful practices for civic mobilization, experienced challenges in similar situations and approaches for overcoming those. Suggestions for improvement of planned activities will be valuable.