Better integration of Roma in rural areas is not only a social, but also a demographic and economic issue. ERGO Network has been working actively to use bottom-up approaches such as Community-led Local Development (CLLD) as a tool to engage Roma people more actively in shaping the future of their rural areas.
CLLD is a term used by the European Commission to describe an approach that turns traditional “top down” development policy on its head. Under CLLD, local communities form local partnerships that design and implement an integrated local development strategy. The strategy is designed to build on the community’s social, environmental and economic strengths rather than simply compensate for its problems. The local partnership receives long-term funding from European Funds and decides how it is spent.
CLLD can offer opportunities for Roma communities to participate in developing and implementing Local Development Strategies (LDSs). From case studies we conducted in 2014, however, we know that Roma involvement is not obvious. Also, the monitoring and evaluation of LDSs mostly takes a narrow quantitative approach, neglects the perspectives of beneficiaries and fails to analyse why Roma communities very often hardly benefit from them.
The ERGO Network Quality Audit
ERGO Network’s Quality Audit addresses these shortcomings. The Quality Audit is a tool to involve Roma communities in the monitoring of CLLD, which at the same time strengthens their voice in the process, and to evaluate the quality of LDSs, both in terms of participation and results. The ‘Quality audit’ assesses to what extent LAGs involve Roma in the four phases of local development strategies: preparation, strategy planning, implementation and evaluation.
To this end, the specific objectives of this tool are to:
Identify the extent to which Roma people participated in the development and implementation of local development strategies and projects.
Make Roma active partners in local development strategy development and implementation.
Giving feedback on the possibilities for including Roma in LAG projects and on the benefits of their active participation.
Provide Roma with skills development and training so they can effectively engage in local development strategies and projects.
Dimensions of the Quality Audit
Extent and quality of the participation of the community in local strategy development and implementation.
Quality of the local strategy
Extent to which a local integrated strategy reflects Roma community needs and an acceptable level of ambition.
Extent to which the strategy produces results for the Roma community.
The LAG areas or sub-areas are selected for the application of the Quality Audit tool.
Training of pollsters
The data will be collected by local activists. They can be representatives of a local NGO or individuals. Their training covers aspects such as: the CLLD process and principles, the Quality Audit process, the approach to data collection and the use of information sources, the importance of participation and the difference between consultation/participation of NGOs on one hand and the community on the other.
Data is collected using ‘community scorecards’, covering different aspects of the CLLD process and applied to each LAG. There should be a separate scorecard for each of the four phases of the CLLD process. Scores from 0 (very bad) to 100 (very good) are awarded for each LAG across the three dimensions.
Once the basic data collection is finalised, scorecards are submitted to ERGO Network members in the respective country, who analyse the data provided by the scorecards and produce interim reports with overall results and assessments.
Triangulation’ of findings
Triangulation aims to verify the findings of community pollsters by interviewing key informants at local level and therefore strengthen the overall reliability of the data collected. Triangulation is carried out by ERGO members in a selection of localities where the Quality Audit was conducted.
Sharing of findings with local groups
The findings of the Quality Audit are shared with local target groups and LAGs, the objective being to learn from this process and identify new ways to increase the effective participation of Roma in local development processes and practice.
Sharing of findings with ERGO Network
The final step seeks to inform ERGO network members of how different LAGs in different countries perform in terms of facilitating the active participation of Roma. This information serves the ERGO network to improve its approach and methods for promoting the active inclusion of Roma in CLLD by identifying ways to make the Roma owners of their own personal and social improvement.