Strengthening Roma civil society as independent and transparent watchdog organisations

Strengthening Roma civil society as independent and transparent watchdog organisations

ERGO members from the Western Balkans, Turkey and the ‘Visegrad countries’ Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic met in Brussels on 24-25 November to prepare a new ERGO project that will strengthen Roma civil society as independent and transparent watchdog organisations.

Being transparent and accountable are important prerequisites for the effectiveness of civil society organisations that are taken seriously by their institutional counterparts. It also shows public authorities that civil society take transparency and accountability very seriously and demand the same from the public sector.

With financial support from the International Visegrad Fund and the European Commission, ERGO Network member organizations therefore agreed on joining their efforts and put their thorough expertise together to set up a list of ‘transparency criteria’ and capacitate Roma civil society in their countries in implementing them.

During the meeting, all partners agreed that using transparency criteria would give them more legitimacy, better fundraising opportunities and more trust from both the grassroots level and institutions. They then drew up a list of criteria, divided into the chapters ‘governance’, ‘finance’ and ‘performance’. These include points such as giving access and distributing information about statutes and funding sources of CSOs, clear decision-making structures that divide responsibilities and ensure gender equality in CSOs, as well as the participation of target groups in the development of strategies and goals.  The partners furthermore stressed the importance of open leadership and regular training within the organisation that contribute to a positive performance of the staff, as well as the need not to use ‘dirty money’ coming for example from illegal sources or from companies using child labour.

Transparency also demands a proper and clear communication strategy (both internal and external) that communicates the vision, mission and the long term goals of the organization. If applicable, diversification of funds also contributes to more independence of organisations.

In 2018, ERGO Network will organise a training for trainers on the transparency criteria in order to help their usage and dissemination in the participating countries as well as offer coaching visits to the partner organisations. You will be able to find regular updates on our website.

“The inclusion of the Roma community was encouraged and evaluated through a system of indicators developed by the ERGO Network”* – a story of success

“The inclusion of the Roma community was encouraged and evaluated through a system of indicators developed by the ERGO Network”* – a story of success

Our Bulgarian member organisation Integro analysed the Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) process and Roma inclusion therein.

In Bulgaria the implementation of the CLLD in the 2014-2020 programming period started within the Rural Development Program 2014-2020, a successor of the LEADER approach. During the current period, the budget for implementation of local development strategies is significantly higher – so that it is expected that two times more local development strategies will be funded.  With the help of ERGO Network’s quality audit tool, Integro analysed Roma integration in local development strategies and local action groups, and identified four steps that are important to take when wanting to improve Roma access to the CLLD programme.