KCSF launched new civil society program and residents of Biti e Poshtme honoured with The Democracy Award

In presence of more than hundred representatives of civil society and citizen initiatives, public institutions, foreign donors and international community, today KCSF launched its new civil society program Engagement for Joint Action (EJA Kosovo). Through this program, KCSF will support civil society initiatives through grants and capacity building with the overall aim to contribute to a democratic and inclusive society in Kosovo. EJA Kosovo is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Swedish Agency for International Development and Cooperation (Sida).

On this occasion, the residents of Biti e Poshtme (Sterpce Municipality) are honoured with The Democracy Award 2019 for their voluntary mobilization, courage and protection of environment and public interest by consistent reactions against the construction of a hydropower plant H3 Viça in river Lepenci. The Democracy Award is presented by KCSF on annual basis. This year’s awardees join the individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to the strengthening of democracy in Kosovo.

 

In his opening remarks, his excellency Mr. Jean-Hubert Lebet, Ambassador of Switzerland in Kosovo, said “Development of a democratic culture is a long-term and complex process. Strengthening the role of civil society and citizens for an active engagement in participatory shaping of public affairs is a central element for the democratization process”.

In her opening remarks, her excellency Ms. Karin Hernmarck Ahliny, Ambassador of Sweden in Kosovo, said “Trust between people is the foundation of all societies and trust is therefore the most important component in building a democracy. Civil society organisations with strong ties to their constituents is the best base to develop trust and create positive change in our society.”

In launching EJA Kosovo, KCSF Executive Director Mr. Taulant Hoxha said “Building on existing experience and professionalism of civil society and adding a strong component of involvement of citizens in their work, EJA Kosovo is designed to support civil society initiatives and individuals that are responsive to the needs of citizens by systematically including them in their work”. In announcement of the Democracy Award he stated “the award highlights the efforts, courage and sacrifices of Kosovo citizens for the democratization of the country and shows a model of society that we aspire”.

On behalf of residents of Biti e Poshtme the award was received by Mr. Agron Rushiti. He underlined that this award encourages them to continue to strive for protection of their rights, the environment and the well-being of citizens living around river Lepenci.

The current envelope of EJA Kosovo is 3.1 million EUR. In next four years, more than 90 organizations and citizen initiatives are expected to be supported and contribute to citizens’ engagement in public policies. EJA Kosovo will soon launch its first call for proposals.

About EJA Kosovo

Engagement for Joint Action (EJA Kosovo) is a KCSF program that supports civil society initiatives through grants and capacity building with the overall aim to contribute to a democratic and inclusive society in Kosovo, on its path towards integration into the European Union. Designed as a pooled funding mechanism, EJA Kosovo is currently co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Swedish Agency for International Development and Cooperation (Sida).

Centering citizen engagement and participation throughout the work of civil society, EJA Kosovo aims to contribute towards two main objectives where: (a) civil society uses and claims spaces for participation in shaping public affairs and (b) civil society organizations have strengthened ties to their constituents and improved accountability and transparency towards the wider public and their constituents.

EJA Kosovo is based on the premise that through tailor-made systems of inclusiveness, transparency and accountability on the one hand, and better access and communication with the community, on the other hand, CSOs will embed the practice of involving citizens in their work, develop an emotional linkage thus directly contribute to strengthening of their constituency. Combined with improved internal governance and increased transparency and accountability, it is expected to increase trust in CSOs as an adequate platform to voice citizens’ concerns.

EJA Kosovo will support initiatives that will focus on addressing the rights and needs of marginalized groups, namely women, people with disabilities, Roma, Ashkali, Egyptian, and Serb minorities, LGBTI, elderly and youth. Watchdog activities, monitoring of implementation of policies and legislation, contribution to controversial topics, improvement of representation of marginalized groups, creation and utilization of public spaces, awareness raising and education in combating gender stereotypes and representation of underrepresented groups would be an illustration of some of the initiatives that will be supported and fit within the larger theory of change of the intervention.