Empowering Civil Society in Rural & Remote Areas – ECSRA

What is this programme about?

”Delivering as One” programme  approved by the Government of Albania in October 2007, identifies civil society strengthening as an integral part of the work of UN organizations in the country. Moreover, the Common Country Programme Document (CCPD) for Albania 2012-2016 highlights the importance of strengthening the engagement of civil society with the state, to ensure government accountability and transparency, as well as to raise awareness and advocate for the promotion of human rights and access to justice.

Despite significant progress in the past two decades, Albanian civil society is still struggling to increase influence on governance, reach out to citizens and ensure sustained impact of its actions.

The Civil Society Index for Albania (2010) provides empirical evidence on the discrepancy between civil society development and role in urban areas vs. that in rural and remote regions.  According to the index a  predominantly donor-driven civil society that appears to be detached from its citizens and the needs and priorities of the local context, has led to a grave situation as regards the presence and added-value of third sector actors in remote and rural areas.

The absence of active civil society actors in rural areas and remote regions deprives local communities from benefits of participatory and citizen-oriented governance and also from advantages of EU accession process.

The project aims to revitalize civil society  in rural/remote areas and to promote good governance through building capacities & empowering CS, as well as through facilitating close cooperation and partnerships between CS and local & regional authorities.

The project aimed to:

  • Build sustained capacities for rural civil society as an indispensable stakeholder to advance rural communities’ priorities through concrete actions that   promote the principles of participatory, accountable and citizen-oriented governance.
  • Advocate with national / local stakeholders to strengthen  rural civil society and  support their  networking and tri-partite partnerships.  

What have we accomplished so far?

1.       Based on the methodological approaches and experience of “Civil Society Index for Albania” (2010), a comprehensive assessment of civil society in rural and remote areas of target regions, outlining needs, challenges and action plan. Recommendations have built further on the previous work – Policy Brief “An Action Agenda for Civil Society”. The study was carried out through qualitative (literature review, structured interviews, focus groups etc.) and quantitative research methods (e.g. surveys). Download here.

2.       Two Manuals for CSOs management and tripartite partnerships developed and used  a series of 20  trainings (5 per each target region, with approximately 300 trainees)  on tripartitie partnerships, organizational development, planning and CSOs management.

3.       A public  awareness and media campaign aimed to raise  awareness on civil society development and citizens’ involvement in local governance of the target regions  was implemented .

4.       A national Workshop “Empowering civil society in rural & remote areas” (Tirana, 1 March 2012) gathering over 170 participants – civil society, donors, state actors, media, academia etc. was organized to build a shared platform of action in support of civil society in remote regions. Conference report available here.

5.        “FAIR OF IDEAS: Good Governance and active citizenry” (Tirana, 13 July 2012) aiming to encourage concrete initiatives for joint implementation under the project  with local CSOs in the target regions. Despite great interest showed by numerous CSOs, due to limited funding, ECSRA partnered with local CSOs in the implementation of 20 initiatives in Lezha, Elbasan, Berat and Gjirokastra rural and remote areas.

6.       Some of the main highlights of the 20 selected initiatives (Fair of Ideas) include: establishment of a network of farmers around the country that would, among others, consolidate the managing structures of 5 communes in the district of Elbasan; establishment of a women club in the communes of Gostime, Shushice and Gjergjan; establishment of a polyphonic group with the inclusion of all the vulnerable categories in Gjirokastra region; Improving local government action plans in support of Roma and Egyptian minorities of Lezha districts; establishment of a partnership forum for the development of the tourism in the region of Gjirokastra etc. These a activities were accompanied by series of capacity building, awareness raising and other actions.

7.      A Book of Achievements was produced, identifying success stories and achievements of the project implementation with the aim to share project’s approach with civil society development stakeholders.

A final Conference (29 January 2013) “Partners for change in rural areas” bringing together  representatives of  national decision makers, civil society, donor community and other civil society development stakeholders was organized. The conference aimed to  share ideas and experiences on challenges and best practices to improve civil society empowerment in remote areas. Conference report available here.


Total: 209,492 USD

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