A SUCCESSFUL COOPERATION BETWEEN THE CIVIL AND PUBLIC SECTOR
On December 17, 2020, the Zoom forum of the CARE project was held and attended by all major participants of the project in Serbia – the project management team, representatives of the Serbian Commissariat for Refugees, the EU Delegation to Serbia, OSCE, UNHCR, Fund for Providing Assistance to Refugees, Expelled and Displaced Persons of the Province of Vojvodina, as well as organizations that implemented the project in the field and project beneficiaries. The general conclusion of the participants was that the CARE project is a real example of a partnership between the civil and public sectors, through which significant added value can be gained. It was also concluded that the concept of realization of the CARE project was based on the principle of upgrading the already existing results, data and priorities of the RHP in Serbia, which is recognized as a good approach that enables greater effects and contributes to sustainable housing effects of the most vulnerable beneficiaries. The general assessment of the participants was that the most vulnerable group of beneficiaries still need support and assistance in the field of social and economic functioning, access to rights and the like. In this sense, continuity in support is recommended, which cannot be achieved without additional measures and projects.
The complete conclusions of the Forum can be found below in the text.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
- According to the participants of the final Forum of the project “CARE” – Contribution to the access of refugees and IDPs to employment rights and opportunities”, the project in Serbia was successfully completed in an atmosphere of full cooperation of various relevant actors, public and civil sector representatives, international agencies and organizations which are included in the Regional Housing Programme for Refugees and Displaced Persons (hereinafter RHP). It was stated that the implementation of the “CARE” project is an example of good practice of synergistic action of state bodies from the national, provincial and local levels (Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia, Fund for Providing Assistance to Refugees, Expelled and Displaced Persons, Commissioners for Refugees of Local Self-Governments); international organizations and bodies (UNHCR, OSCE) and local non-governmental organizations (Center for Regionalism, Amity, IDC, Housing Center, EHO, Education Center).
- The concept of the “CARE” project was based on the principle of upgrading to existing results, data and priorities of the RHP in Serbia, which was recognized as a good approach that allows greater effects and contributes to the sustainability of housing effects of the most vulnerable users.
- The involvement of civil society organizations in the implementation of the project was especially praised, emphasizing their knowledge of the terrain and the needs of beneficiaries, experience in working with the most vulnerable categories of beneficiaries, flexibility and commitment to the topic of refugees.
- The Forum praised the practice of close coordination of all actors involved, mutual openness for dialogue on finding the most effective solutions for specific situations on the ground and other challenges that accompanied the project. In that direction, the quantitative results in the part of the beneficiary’s coverage are pointed out, but also the qualitative effects of the project interventions, which are reflected in the degree of satisfaction expressed by the beneficiaries and their families.
- The Forum emphasized the use value of all lessons learned, tested solutions and approaches during the implementation of the “CARE” project for future interventions related to the care of the most vulnerable social groups that the EU Delegation in Serbia has plans for.
- Project interventions in the field of improving the living conditions of the most vulnerable families who could not repair their houses and install construction materials that were previously donated to them through RHP were assessed as the most complex, but also very useful. Although this intervention was assessed as insufficiently timely (a couple of years passed from the moment of recording the needs and delivery of the construction material package to the moment of organizing its installation), the flexible approach of the project team and organizations that implemented activities was praised. This approach enabled maximized effects of the project intervention and provided better housing conditions for 10 highly vulnerable refugee families.
- The practices of involving beneficiaries in the planning and execution of necessary construction works on residential buildings were assessed as positive and effective both for the motivation of the beneficiaries and for their sense of ownership.
- Community responses and support for housing improvement activities for their refugee residents have been very positive and stimulating in a number of cases. Organizing a traditional harvest is an illustration of the high degree of acceptance and integration of refugees into the community.
- It was assessed that this most vulnerable group of beneficiaries still needs support and assistance in the area of social and economic functioning, access to rights and the like. In this sense, continuity in support is recommended, which cannot be achieved without additional measures and projects.
- The component of the “CARE” project related to the research of the situation and the degree of integration of RHP users in Serbia was assessed by the Forum participants as very relevant for further planning and implementation of necessary state measures and interventions.
- Domestic NGOs were commended for quality fieldwork in the context of the COVID pandemic and the restrictions that were in place. The additional value of this project activity was also pointed out, because a base of well-trained interviewers has been formed, which can be used in the future to conduct similar research.
- In addition to the above, the forum participants stressed the need to make greater use in all future activities of the practice of direct contact and dialogue with users and respect for their assessments of needs and conditions, as well as direct participation in decision-making.
- The area of social innovation, which as a specific component of the project, was originally planned to support business association of users and innovative models of support. The results of the research of capacities, needs and resources of potential beneficiaries determined the approach of direct individualized assistance in the form of tools and equipment for providing services to the population. This flexibility in approach and focus on solutions that are functional and effective for users is praised as a good project decision, which followed the reality and feasibility. The example of good practice that selected beneficiary families participated highly in the planning, selection and procurement of aid packages for economic empowerment was particularly highlighted.