The CPF’s new campaign: Changing our communities
Citizen Participation Forum (CPF) – a network of more than 120 civil society organisation from the whole country launched an initiative under the slogan ‘Changing our communities’, which advocates for the establishment of citizen initiatives fund at the municipal level. As part of the campaign, CPF developed a 10-step mechanism explaining the main preconditions. A pilot phase will be proposed to three municipal administrations – Shumen, Stara Zagora and Blagoevgrad. Following the initial phase, this will be implemented to other municipalities in Bulgaria, where such forms of support to NGOs do not exist.
The mechanism builds upon the campaign from 2015 when CFP elaborated a questionnaire and methodology for assessment of the Citizen Participation index on municipal and national level. 15 assessments of municipalities have been implemented and could be consulted online on index.fgu.bg.
The Index assessments, based on a wide-array of stakeholders focus group involving NGOs, local authorities, business, active citizens and media, communicate conclusions and recommendations how to improve interaction between civil society organisations and municipal institutions. Albeit the differences in holding the forums and the participants, the focus groups formulated similar outcomes: – to improve the procedure of public discussions and consulations; – to enhance transparency of the Municipal councils deliberations; to launch public debates and campaigns targeting key issues on the local level; to make municipalities’s websites more user-friendly, topical and to the point. One of the key recommendations throughout all discussions is the need to establish fund supported by the municipal budget to set up a grant scheme for civil society and citizens’ initiatives.
Following the analysis of these recommendations, CPF launched this campaign. First, a number of discussions were organised where CPF members, local media and active citizens discussed the need, the opportunities and the potential challenges in establishing such a fund on local level. CPF experts elaborated a detailed mechanism with the main steps for setting up a municipality fund supporting essential citizen initiatives and what are the functional preconditions for its establishment.
A summary of the main steps could be found online.