STRENGTHENING ROMA NGOS AS TRANSPARENT AND INDEPENDENT WATCHDOG ORGANISATIONS
ERGO Network’s new transparency and accountability criteria give recommendations on how grassroots civil society organisations should be governed and managed in order to be reliable and accountable. Fulfilling the criteria will bring attention to an organisation’s quality work. The set of criteria focuses on governance, financial management and performance.
ERGO Network together with its member organisations – Roma Advocacy and Research Centre (Slovakia), Roma Active Albania (Albania), Slovo 21 (Czech Republic), Autonomia Foundation (Hungary), OTAHARIN (Bosnia and Herzegovina), RROMA (Macedonia), Mladi Romi (Montenegro) and Zero Discrimination (Turkey) – developed a set of transparency and accountability criteria for grassroots organisations with the aim to strengthen civil society organisations. Using the criteria will give more legitimacy, better fundraising opportunities and more trust from both the grassroots level and institutions and ultimately reinforce the power of civil society organizations. Being transparent and accountable are important prerequisites for the effectiveness of civil society that is taken seriously by its institutional counterparts and other partners.
Furthermore, the members of ERGO Network agreed on joining their efforts and putting their thorough expertise together to empower Roma and pro-Roma civil society in their countries in implementing the transparency criteria. For this aim, ERGO Network has developed a board game that leads the players through different steps necessary to become more transparent and accountable. Anyone can download the game and play it by themselves, or invite an ERGO Network facilitator to support them through the process. Besides the offline game, there is also an online self-audit that you can go through to discover how far you are in applying the criteria in your organisation.
Fulfilling the transparency criteria means not only being able to show that Roma and pro-Roma civil society takes these very seriously, but also having the right to demand the same from other stakeholders.
Find out more about the transparency and accountability criteria and download them in several languages: https://ergonetwork.org/transparency/
Do the online audit and know how well your organisation fulfils the transparency and accountability criteria https://ergonetwork.org/transparency/transparency-audit/
A local dialogue meeting under the project “Strengthening Roma NGOs as transparent and independent watchdog organisations” was organised in Bijelo Polje on 8th May 2018. in cooperation with local NGO Klub kulture and coordinated by NGO Young Roma, partner of ERGO Network in the project funded by the Visegrad Fund.
The aim of the local dialogue was to discuss the issues of the community with Roma and the representatives of the local authorities. The meeting discussed the results, extracted good practices used by the municipalities and provided ideas on future joint initiatives.
Recommendations from the meeting:
- Increase the level of transparency of local municipalities in the process of allocation of funds (to publish all information – public call, public and final decision, total score lists as well as individual score lists)
- Local authorities in charge of implementing policies related to social inclusion of the Roma should cooperate intensely, in an organised and structured way with NGOs dealing with the issues related to the protection of Roma’ rights. Local authorities should provide continued funding of joint activities with NGOs, in line with the Strategy.
- Local action plan is in the process of development and it should be made in close cooperation with community representatives and local NGOs.
- It is necessary to provide for adequate quality of education and care for all Roma children, primarily through the intensification of additional lessons (language learning and learning backlogged subject matter) with the help of teaching assistants.
- It is necessary to work more intensely on raising awareness about the importance of education and removing the barriers between Roma children and children from the majority population
- Introduce mediators to all schools attended by members of Roma populations. It is necessary to additionally train mediators and organise their work so that they can help schools update lists of children to be enrolled with schools as well as to regularly keep track of the risks, contact parents, schools and social welfare centres.
- Vocational training for Roma should be designed on local level to combine the needs of the labor market and the demands for skills and knowledge of Roma.
- Particular attention should be paid to the adequate employment of Roma in local institutions
- Funds for solving the housing problems of Roma should be urgently taken into consideration.
- The housing programs implemented for Roma on local level have to ensure sustainability of the solutions, meaning ensure possibility for the beneficiaries to cover their rental fee and communal services and ensure integral social services. It is also recommended that the housing programs ensure desegregation of Roma and prevent forming of new ghettoes.
The participants at the meeting were able to watch a short film produced during the realization of the project “Roma from the North” organized by the NGO Klub kulture from Bijelo Polje. This video was realized through the program of granting small grants within the project Joint Initiative for Empowering the Roma Civil Sector in the Western Balkans and Turkey, in which the NGO Young Roma is a partner, while financial support is provided by the European Commission.