F O R U M
“Sustainability of RHP / Regional Housing Programme
– contribution of the CARE project: achievements and challenges – the experience of Montenegro “(October 28, 2020)
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
- The project “CARE” – Contribution to the access of refugees and internally displaced persons to employment rights and opportunities” in Montenegro realized all planned activities, although slightly reduced in volume compared to the original project. Although there is still a lack of verification that the results of the project will be fully achieved and through them greater sustainability of the RHP / Regional Housing Programme in Montenegro will be achieved, they are expected to be available in the first half of 2021, when, according to the representatives of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, the CARE project beneficiaries will get prefabricated houses for use – given that the legal issues that hindered the implementation of the construction of houses have been resolved.
- It was pointed out that it is necessary to continue monitoring end users after the expiration of the “CARE” project in order to establish the impact made in the quality of life of users, but still support vulnerable users, who are in great need. The need to periodically collect data on the socio-economic status of the refugee population as problems they face was also emphasized.
- The recommendation for the RHP program is aimed at the need for stakeholders in Montenegro to avoid “ghettoization” of beneficiaries in isolated communities. Greater user participation in the planning and implementation of the program was also highlighted as an area for potential improvement.
- According to the conference participants, it is necessary to increase strategic support to the issues and problems of the beneficiaries of the Regional Housing Programme at the level of government, legislature and municipal authorities in order to increase efficiency and improve their position. In this regard, the need for stronger and more efficient horizontal coordination within the state system of government and management (at the level of ministries and supporting structures) was emphasized in order to more efficiently and synchronously solve the problems of the most vulnerable groups of refugees, displaced persons and returnees.
- The participants of the conference emphasized that the difficult situation is still evident in Montenegro with a number of refugees, returnees and displaced persons, especially those located in the northern part of the country, mainly in rural areas. Special attention was paid to Berane and a large number of families without legal status who are in a state of need of a wider range, including housing. Major problems are being identified within the Roma population, whose problems are multi-layered (unregulated legal status, housing, economic, social, health, educational position…) and require much more intensive community engagement. It turned out that the needs of refugees, returnees and displaced persons are still much greater and more complex than what are the possibilities of intervention through existing active projects.
- Speaking about the aspects of sustainability of the RHP program in Montenegro and the contribution of “CARE” project, it was pointed out that there are still numerous challenges that RHP faces. Every conference participant agreed that strong and full coordination of RHP stakeholders is needed with other accompanying programs and projects. Especially projects that seek to support full integration of refugees, returnees and displaced persons into the local environment. It was pointed out that a big problem is to provide a housing solution / build houses and flats and move families into them, but an even bigger challenge is the full integration of people – their more favorable economic, social status.
- In the context of the sustainability of the housing programme, there was an emphasis on the need for Montenegro to resolve the issue of maintenance of social housing facilities – the legislative frame. Existing regulations oblige tenants / users to adequately maintain housing units, although most families are unable to do so, primarily due to very unfavorable socio-economic status.
- The recommendation of the conference is to work on further development of human and material capacities within public institutions (ministries, municipalities, centers for social work), but also within the non-governmental sector. For activities under the jurisdiction of local governments, it would be good to, at the state level, develop mechanisms to bridge differences in local resources community, and especially to support those communities where financial resources are lacking (North Montenegro), in order to provide a better support system for end users.
- It is recommended to expand the range of activities related to social transition and strengthening the capacity of end users for social inclusion – this is especially true for local governments to initiate actions in which end users can participate, and thus use the machines provided. Eg. if an activity (deforestation, mowing, etc.) is carried out on the land belonging to the Municipality, the engagement of end users should also be considered.
- At the general level, in relation to the RHP programme and accompanying projects, it is recommended to involve representatives of local authorities, as well as end users in decision-making on activities and programs intended for them, and especially to create mechanisms for active participation of women and children in these populations; Develop psycho-social support services for individuals because data from the field indicate the needs of this type (family dysfunction, disability, domestic violence, the problem of adjustment, etc.)
- In the part of self-organization and empowerment of users, it is recommended to pay more attention to the development of local initiatives in terms of creating a network of cooperation between end users in order for the end users associate and help each other, exchange knowledge and resources.
- The practice of the “CARE” project in Montenegro which used the experiences of all relevant actors, including other civil society organizations that have been working on issues of importance to refugees and displaced persons for many years, was praised. (example of CRS, HELP, Legal Center …)
- According to the forum participants from state institutions, the “CARE” project opened many new issues and aspects of importance for a long-term and sustainable solution to the situation of refugees and displaced persons of which the responsible actors were not fully aware. At the same time, very good cooperation was achieved between the representatives of the “CARE” project team and the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare – the leading state body in charge of the RHP program in Montenegro, as well as with relevant international organizations and local authorities. Such cooperation between the civil and public sectors is recognized as a good practice that should be continued and intensified.
- Forum participants agreed that the need for interventions such as the “CARE” project still exists, that the existing lessons learned are numerous and useful and should be translated into new similar projects and supported by the EU. RHP activities need to be intensified and even more strongly linked to civil society support projects that will strengthen the elements of RHP sustainability and full user integration.