130 project proposals for the RYCO Call

The Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) opened its Fourth Open Call intended to support and empower partnerships between civil society organizations, secondary schools and other actors in implementing activities in the areas of regional youth cooperation, mobility and exchange; and enabling environment for regional youth cooperation. The general objective of this call for proposals is to support the civil society in the Western Balkans to foster reconciliation and regional youth cooperation during COVID-19 pandemic by providing young people with opportunities that create space for dialogue, mutual learning and increased understanding across communities and RYCO Contracting Parties, as well as contribute to increasing capacities of CSOs in offering meaningful opportunities to young people in a changed reality caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Call was closed at midnight on 12 October 2020.

DPNSEE and its member organisations Aksion Plus (Albania), Margina (Bosnia Herzegovina), Juventas (Montenegro), Prevent and Re Generacija (Serbia) prepared the project proposal No Risk, no borders for young people. Our project will strive to contribute to the efforts of the reconciliation processes in the WB countries and stronger youth participation in CSOs by developing and supporting regional youth cooperation focused on youth at risk, as its desirable overall impact/change. The project is strongly focused on marginalized youth groups that are in our context defined as youth at risk consisting of young people who use drugs, sex workers, LGBTI population, youth in conflict with the law and others addressed as “youth with alternative lifestyles and identities”.

We are awaiting December 2020 and some good news from RYCO!

New model of work in Zenica and Tuzla

Denis Dedajić, President of the Association Margina from Bosnia and Herzegovina sent us a short summary of the situation from March 1 to April 10.

Drawing on our life experiences we have had the opportunity to experience (the 4-year war, the floods of 2014), we can point out that we have very quickly adapted to the situation caused by the COVID 19 pandemic.

Our operations are compounded by the funding problems of our services that you are already aware of. Our organization is the only one that has survived the provision of harm reduction services in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In accordance with the orders and recommendations of the Crisis Staff managing this health and social crisis, we had to close both Drop in centres (Zenica and Tuzla) and transferred all forces to the field.

A rapid mapping of the terrain was carried out and interviews with a large number of clients enabled a new methodology of work, all in line with the recommendations on the method of contacts between people. We currently cover all our clients in two regions, covering about 1 million people and about 1.800 of our clients, and with the great help of our clients we have identified in both regions 20 key points – persons to whom we deliver all the materials available to us.

The material is delivered on the basis of the stated needs of our clients. In the period from March 1st to April 10th we distributed in both regions 51.800 needles and syringes, 25.000 pieces of distilled water, alcohol wipes, containers for preparation of the mixture and 1.200 containers for disposal of infectious waste. It should be noted that during this period about 45.000 needles and syringes and other infectious material were collected and deposited in our drop in centres until this crisis passed.

We have established 4 sex workers supply lines and have distributed a lot of materials (over 500 hygiene packages) and unfortunately this is the only one they have received over the last three months.

The biggest win at the moment is the involvement and commitment of our clients throughout this work process.

In interviews with the inmates of the largest prison, we confirmed that they lack basic equipment such as mask gloves and disinfectants and the needs are quite high. The good situation is that all visits are suspended and there is very little opportunity for COVID to break into these facilities, although they need urgent help with these safeguards to improve the prevention system and reduce the possibility of infection.

 All of this work is done by 6 of our employees and we all do all the work and have very few resources at our disposal. The 6 of us have been volunteering for a long time and will work as long as we have materials to share with our clients.

If this model of work continues, our supplies are sufficient by the end of June. After that we will be forced to close after 18 years of conducting harm reduction services in Bosnia and Herzegovina because we will no longer be able to do so.

 

Regional conference on youth at risk

The regional conference on youth at risk, the closing event of the project “At-Risk Youth Social Empowerment“, was held in Podgorica, Montenegro on 10 – 11 December 2019. The project was supported by the European Union and implemented by consortium of six organizations from six Western Balkan countries: Juventas (project coordinator, Montenegro), ARSIS (Albania), Association Margina (Bosnia and Herzegovina), HOPS (Macedonia), NGO Labyrinth (Kosovo), Prevent (Serbia).

The conference aimed to examine results of the implementing reforms as well as remaining challenges in the field of social policies focusing on youth at risk. Within the scope of this project, youth at risk category includes young people using drugs, young people in conflict with the law, youth without parental care, young Roma, youth with street experience, youth living in families with history of using drugs or/and conflict with the law.

The conference gathered policy officials, researchers, service providers, civil society activists and members of the academia from the region of Western Balkan and Europe to discuss current social position of different youth at risk categories and main obstacles for better social integration. Guests and speakers included Nikola Janović, Minister of Sports and Youth, Government of Montenegro and representatives of the ministries of Health, Education, Justice and Labour and Social Welfare, Fiona McCluney, resident coordinator, UN system Montenegro, Michaela Bauer, UNICEF’s Deputy Representative for Montenegro and Ana Margarida Tome De Freitas Mariguesa, European Delegation to Montenegro, among others.

One of the main topics was related to the social services in terms of their quality, regional availability, process of monitoring and evaluation. Also, the conference was the opportunity to explore current state of the cooperation between public administration and civil society in the process of service provision. Different modes of cooperation were discussed including examples of good practice with the aim to identifying cooperation models that can have best possible results. The sustainability of the social services was one of the topics.

A very emotional moment of the conference was screening of the movie “Where is the home?” which was produced with the support from the project. The movie presents personal stories of two young man who grew up in a home for children and youth without parental care.

Representatives of the DPNSEE member organisations were active throughout the conference. Board members Nebojša Đurasović and Denis Dedajić were panellists, while Executive Director Milutin Milošević moderated one of the panels.

A publication about our project

In the last decade, an increasing number of donors are withdrawing their support for healthcare. This has been especially true for middle-income countries, where the growth of domestic resources was one of the triggers for donor funding reduction. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) has termed this process as “transition”.

In 2018 the Open Society Foundations, through the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), initiated the project Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in countries of South East Europe. It provided funding to three transitioning countries in the Balkan region – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia – through the sub-regional network organization, Drug Policy Network South East Europe (DPNSEE), to support budget advocacy for harm reduction services. The local coordinating organisations are Margina, Juventas and Prevent.

The case study looks at the implementation of this project as one of the demonstrations of the SBF mechanism, with the objectives to:

  • Document the pilot in 3 Balkan countries and to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of this approach and to develop suggestions for improvement; and,
  • Document the results, successes, and challenges of the budget advocacy projects supported through this approach.

Our project serves as a pilot for the Sustainability Bridge Funding (SBF), an idea that has been discussed among donors and civil society organizations as a way of mitigating the negative effects of transition and in providing support for key essential services for communities and key populations. As a safety net mechanism, it should respond to gaps in funding and mitigate adverse effects of donor funding withdrawal.

Please find the document following this link>>>

Results of the budget advocacy presented

A workshop on Budget advocacy and monitoring in South East Europe was held in Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina from 23 to 25 September 2019. Aim of the workshop was to present and discuss the results of the budget analysis implemented by mr sci Faruk Hadžić dipl ecc with support of the Association Margina team, the coordinating organisation of the regional project Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in countries of South East Europe for the country.

Even though the organisers made a huge effort to invite representatives of various institutions, not many of them participated in the workshop. But, the quality of presentation and facilitation provoked a very fruitful discussion and motivating atmosphere.

The conclusions of the workshop are summarised in one sentence: There is enough money in the system, but planning, analysis and strategic thinking are weak and they hit back as a boomerang.

The contacts established and agreements made are optimistic with hope that in the forthcoming period an open process of designing the system of social contracting of civil society services in Bosnia Herzegovina.

The Analysis of the budgets in Bosnia and Herzegovina is available following this link>>>

 

Alarming situation in Bosnia Herzegovina

With delay in establishing political structures in the country and reduced international donor support, the situation with harm reduction services in Bosnia Herzegovina became alarming. Here is what we heard from Denis Dedajić, Chairman of the Association Margina and DPNSEE Board member:

The current situation is as follows: the Margin Association is the only survivor with the services and we provide them now and on a larger scale because no other service provided by other NGOs is active, so all clients have turned to us. We are taking over users and equipment from Sarajevo and we shall organise distribution with support of few gatekeepers who used to work for us recently.

I estimate that we will endure until the end of October and after that we shall have no more materials for distribution. The salaries of our staff need not be talked about, as of May we are all volunteers and the funds we had are already spent on transportation and rents of the space we use.

The situation is further complicated by a few things. What concerns us most are the indolence of the authorities and the large waves of migrants coming to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Yesterday, I was in contact with asylum officers and they informed me that about 1.000 immigrants a day enter northern Bosnia and in different ways move west to the border with Croatia and the EU respectively. They aim at Western Europe, but their psycho-physical condition is very poor. There is an increasing number of fatalities, both as a result of illness (quite a large number of TB and Hepatitis C), which is due to conflicts between groups from different countries (Afghanistan Pakistan, Algeria Morocco, Syria, Bangladesh). These conflicts generally end with very serious injuries by knives or other cold weapons. We have had about 100 contacts so far and have been using sterile injection supplies. According to asylum officers, many drug users have been around for several years.

NO one is doing anything on this issue, and we are simply waiting for when a major incident will occur so that everything will surface.

We sincerely hope that a solution will be found soon to revitalize the harm reduction services and ensure health support needed.

Advocacy for a cantonal institution for drug diseases

For this year Association Margina once again organised street action disseminating promotional materials, meeting people and spreading information about the campaign and work of the association.

By sharing an educational brochure (What to do when someone overdoes you, etc.) to several locations in the city by volunteers, Margina wanted to raise people’s awareness of a problem that doesn’t affect only individuals, but whole community. Passers-by had the opportunity to get acquainted with the organization’s work and campaign goals, and also to take pictures with campaign Logo in order to support those who need it the most. Organisers are very pleased with the community response to the messages that the campaign provides, as more and more people are aware that changes must be introduced to the entire system.

A special feature this year is the public debateDo We Need The Office of Addiction Diseases” with 40 representatives from institutions and civil society present, as well as active users of “suboxone” therapy and active users of harm reduction services provided by our organization.

The opposite views are expressed about how to fund a part of the health system, and insufficient systemic support for people using drugs. Also, for the first time data from the regional project “Budget advocacy and monitoring” were presented and representatives of the Ministry of Health and the Health Insurance Fund had mild panic outbursts, with the information provided and recommendations.

The conclusion of all the attendees is that this Department of Addiction Diseases, as urgently needed, will be one of our goals in the advocacy campaign that will follow in early September.

Regional training for the ARYSE Advocacy Network

Within the project “Strengthening young people at risk of social exclusion“, a regional training of the ARYSE (At-Risk Youth Social Empowerment) Network for advocacy for the promotion of children and young people at risk was held from 5 to 7 July in Bar, Montenegro.

The project is being implemented in six countries from the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo*, Northern Macedonia and Serbia) and aims to contribute to the social inclusion of the larger part of the young people at risk at the regional level, by strengthening the capacities of civil society organizations, regional/national cooperation and advocacy activities.

This training was intended for representatives of the implementing organizations and representatives of the national working groups established within the project. The idea of ​​the training was that the members of the working group and representatives of the organizations form a regional advocacy body which will continue to function after the completion of the project.

During the training, the participants worked to develop a common platform on which they would base their future work on young people at risk. During the training, the participants worked to develop an advocacy plan for all target groups covered by the project: Street youth, Youth who use drugs, Youth in conflict with law, Youth without parental care, Young Roma and Youth from families with history of drug use and/or conflict with law.

The regional body would aim to continue to promote the results of the ARYSE project and to advocate for appropriate guidance created through this project. In addition, the regional body would continuously work on the exchange of information and good practices and the improvement of policies related to young people at risk and the availability of the services designed for them.

The project is implemented by the NGO Juventas (Montenegro), the Association “Prevent” (Serbia), the Association Margina (BiH), ARSIS (Albania), HOPS (Macedonia), Labyrinth (Kosovo) and the Foundation CHL (Germany).

The network of the mentioned organizations that implements activities are aimed at contributing to active participation in the social and social processes of young people from the Western Balkan countries who are at the highest risk of social exclusion.

New accreditation for Margina

The Board of the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Accreditation in the Federation of Bosnia Herzegovina (AKAZ), at the meeting held on 29 April 2019, accredited the drop-in centres of the Association Margina in Tuzla and Zenica.

AKAZ performs a variety of services including standards for healthcare institutions, indicators for healthcare institutions, certification, accreditation, facilitation, clinical guidelines, education for healthcare professionals and support healthcare institutions in clinical revision. With Margina, they implemented a project Quality improvement for drop-in centres on back in 2014 whose objectives were:

  • Development of tailor-made training
  • Development of specialized standards
  • Development of risk-based indicators
  • Facilitation during accreditation preparation
  • External assessment of the centres
  • Granting accreditation status for 3 drop-in centres – in Tuzla, Zenica and Mostar

Margina benefited from the project gaining accreditation for the three drop-in centres in 2015 and became the first civil society organisation in South East Europe. The accreditation includes 13 standards and 89 criteria and 15 politics and procedures.

External assessment in the Association Margina

This accreditation status for NGO Margina expired on 23 November 2018 and they passed through the process of re-accreditation which was successfully completed. Margina is now accredited, now for the period of 4 years.

Congratulations!

EHRA representatives visit

As the DPNSEE project Budget Advocacy and Monitoring in countries of South East Europe funded by Open Society Foundations (OSF) through Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) is about to come to an end in April this year, EHRA Financial Director Tatiana Fomicheva and Sustainability and Transition Adviser Ivan Varentsov visited DPNSEE on 17 and 18 April 2019. The purposes of the visit were to make an oversight of the project related documents and provide support with regard to the development of the final financial report.

EHRA representatives had an opportunity to meet with representatives of the national coordinator organisations MarginaJuventas and Prevent and get to know better their achievements and challenges while implementing the project. It was also interesting to discuss lessons learnt, possible next steps and follow up actions. All three indicated that the main issue they faced was lack of information or very slow response to provide them by the authorities. Understanding this obstacle, an agreement was made that DPNSEE and partner organisations will propose to extend the project by September 2019.

Our guests presented us the EHRA activities in the scope of the Global Fund HIV multi-country project, content of the workshop on human rights issues for the Balkan region planned for autumn this year and the Global Fund Community, Rights and Gender Technical Assistance Program. For this occasion, we also invited our colleagues from Serbian partner and member organisations DugaGAJPTimok Youth Centre and Čovekoljublje.

For our guests, we also arranged meetings with Dr Jasmina Tanasić, Head of the Department for Social Affairs at the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities and Primarius Dr Danijela Simić, Head of Department for HIV infection, STI, viral hepatitis and tuberculosis, Centre for Prevention and Control of Diseases, at the Institute of Public Health of Serbia “Dr Milan Jovanović Batut”.

The visit will help to better document the approach, process and results of our project as well as the lessons learnt. Documenting this our joint experience as a regional best practice and example of small grants to NGOs in recently transitioned of transitioning countries to support their sustainability and transition related advocacy activities can be of benefit to the Sustainability Bridge Funding that is about to be created by a group of international donors led by the OSF.