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What’s next fort the CSOs in the Region?

From 5-7 December 2023, together with over 50 grantees of the 1st and 2nd Call for Proposals, in the city of Durrës, in cooperation with EU TACSO, we organized a large 3-days workshop focusing on building capacities, partnerships, and sustainability in the Western Balkans Region.

After six thematic workshop sessions and panels organized in cooperation with selected experts of EU Technical Assistance to Civil Society Organisations in the Western Balkans and Türkiye (EU Tacso), on the final day, we wrapped up with a list of recommendations and the decision to continue cooperation further with EU TACSO in the future.

Recounting the findings of the main session, Dafina Beqiri, WBF Senior Program Manager, set the tone by emphasizing the importance of donors allocating more funds to enhance partnerships. She underscored the value of workshops like this for all participants.

Jelena Pajovic van Reenen, EU TACSO expert, was asked to elaborate on specific insights regarding how to ensure funds are dedicated to activities that aim to increase cooperation. “To build a successful partnership, you need trustworthy partners who understand their roles. From what we heard yesterday, there is a need to insist on sustainability within existing grant calls. Organizations should describe how they will continue their activities after the funding ends, emphasizing investment in long-term impact”, she responded.

Part of the experts, Andreja Tonc highlighted the importance of involving project partners from the beginning to the end for a full Project Cycle Management (PCM). She also stressed the significance of partners participating in training sessions organized by different donors to collectively increase capacities.

Regarding small-budget projects, Andreja mentioned that initiatives are sometimes overlooked, and stakeholders may not take them seriously due to limited funds. Additionally, Ms Tonc emphasized the importance of stakeholder involvement throughout the PCM, encouraging a thorough analysis of stakeholders at the project’s beginning and continuous assessment of their importance.

Natasha Nazari, from EU TACSO underlined: “We have guidelines aligned with EU standards for civil society. Now, we are in the process of evaluating indicators of Civil Society Organisations in the Region. CSOs have the chance to contribute, and I invite everyone to share in focus group consultations to strengthen our collective impact.”

Fjordi Bisha, WBF-EU Joint Action Manager, concluded the panel by underscoring: “Partnership was a keyword of this workshop, with community support, elevating knowledge, and bringing together diversity as key pillars. Community support, not only for CSOs but also for WBF, is crucial for sustainability. Bringing together diversity, both in partnerships and ideas, enhances regional cooperation. Elevating knowledge has a reciprocal effect, enabling organizations to better understand their communities and plan for the future.”

In summary, the conference highlighted the need for sustainable practices, thorough stakeholder analysis, and ongoing collaboration to achieve long-term impact in the region