The European Union finances five new civil society projects in Armenia to promote democratic governance and human rights which will become concrete examples of civil society taking initiative to information gathering and promoting public discussions. The latter will identify common views of citizens and passing key recommendations and concerns to politicians and government institutions and acting as a watchdog of their governments. The projects reflect the common values identified and confirmed by the Republic of Armenia and the European Union in the Comprehensive & Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the European Union & Armenia (CEPA) signed on 24th November 2017.
The EU Ambassador Piotr Świtalski stated: “The EU delegation is launching five new important civil society projects that will be engaging Armenian citizens in different governance and human rights activities. I very much hope that these new projects will encourage more young people and ordinary citizens to engage in public discussions on important issues in Armenia.
The five new projects spans from youth issues over human rights in closed institutions, women’s organisations, national policy and budget implementation and to reducing energy costs so regardless of your interest these projects have something for everyone”.
The new projects will engage Armenian citizens, including women and youth, in work on human rights, budget transparency, capacity-building of women’s organisations, assessments and discussions of the situation in closed institutions, and enhancing the knowledge of citizens in rural communities and civil society organisations on steps to reducing their energy costs through new technology. Many project activities will involve and benefit Armenians in the regions during their 2-year implementation period.
Two of the five projects will be advancing human rights issues – one by working with youth journalists and youth organisations to enhance knowledge on human rights monitoring, reporting and promotion of human rights through policy dialogue and the second by updating and expanding existing assessments of the human rights situation in closed institutions such as prisons, institutions for mentally ill persons and pre-trial detention centres. The third and fourth projects will create better information flows to Armenian citizens on the important issues of budget implementation and how to reduce energy bills through small-scale investments in new technology. The fifth project will ensure more predictable support to more than 600 vulnerable women by improving the social enterprises run by women’s organisations in the marzes of Armenia.
Brief Information about the EU-funded Projects
The Delegation of the European Union to Armenia is pleased to present the five new civil society projects funded by the European Union to be implemented in Armenia in 2018 – 2019. We believe the projects with a total budget of over 1,9 million Euro (EU contribution is 1,74 million Euro) will make a difference by addressing the issues of human rights advocacy, State budget monitoring, participatory rural development and economic empowerment of vulnerable groups as well as by creating new jobs, engaging citizens in decision-making processes and fostering public debates in the country on the most pressing issues relevant to every resident of Armenia.
Brief Description of the Projects:
- The Project “A Public Glimpse into a Closed World: Increasing Awareness on the Human Rights Situation in Closed Institutions” is a two-year project implemented by Public Journalism Club (PJC) NGO and For Equal Rights (FER) NGO. This project will shed more light on the daily life of Armenians who are living in closed institutions – people in pre-trial detention, serving prison sentences or living with severe physical and mental disabilities in specialised closed institutions. The project will offer a series of specific trainings for media professionals to further enable a balanced and comprehensive public debate about human rights situation in closed institutions, produce a series of TV shows and video reports on the life in closed institutions to engage the public and inform ordinary citizens. The project with a total budget of EUR 278,072 (EU contribution of EUR 264,168) will be implemented in all regions of Armenia and will run until December 2019.
- The Project “Access to Information and Investigative Journalism for Better Informed Citizens” implemented by Freedom of Information Center of Armenia (FOICA) and Maastricht-based European Journalism Center is intended to help Armenian population, especially in the regions, to get more access to information about the national budget, public expenditures and their rights to hold the government accountable for inefficient budget spending. The 20 months-long project with a total budget of EUR 390,000 (EU contribution of EUR 343,200) will offer trainings for civil society organisations and young journalists to teach them how to produce and share easy-to-understand information, provide efficient monitoring of the State budget and contribute to public debate about budget allocations and spending in Armenia. A sub-granting scheme in the project will allow 10 CSOs to cooperate with government bodies on public finance-related projects of choice in a bid to find more efficient and effective ways of planning and/or spending State budget resources and to create a positive impact on economic and social wellbeing of the society in Armenia.
- The Project “EU4Civil Society: Energy Efficiency in Armenian Communities” is a two-year project aimed at assisting wider democratic participation to overhaul civil understanding of energy efficiency as a way to reduce and eradicate poverty in Armenia. Through this project the National Social Housing Association Foundation (ASBA) in cooperation with its partners from the Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic will address the issues of energy efficiency in rural areas by increasing awareness and implementing practical measures to improve energy utilization pattern, increase quality of life and reduce energy bills. The project will engage regional CSOs and media of five Marzes of Armenia (Lori, Tavush, Gegharkunik, Kotayk, Ararat) to work with urban and rural communities on their specific energy efficiency issues. People will learn about new energy efficiency methods and practices, how to mobilise community resources and engage in effective partnership with local municipalities and private companies to address energy efficiency issues. The project with a total budget of EUR 372,231 (EU contribution of EUR 335,000) will also support the implementation of community initiatives and create new opportunities for civic groups to mobilise resources for effective partnership with municipalities to achieve synergetic effects and ensure long-term sustainability of investments in energy efficiency and community development areas.
- The Project “EU4HumanRights: Pursuing Positive Change through Empowering Civil Society” is a two-year project implemented by Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation – Armenia (OSIAFA) and two CSOs – the Institute of Public Policy and the Union of Informed Citizens. Capacity-building and sub-granting facilities will be the Project’s key tool to empower civil society organisations with skills and knowledge needed to better monitor, record and report human rights violations related to domestic violence, the right to be free from torture, the right to fair trial, tolerance, access to quality education and access to healthcare services. The project will serve as a bridge between established human rights advocates in Armenia and younger generation of activists interested in gaining more expertise in defending rights of the Armenians. The project with a total budget of EUR 460,035 (EU contribution of EUR 400,000) will also help ordinary people to learn more about human rights, criminal justice and social justice.
- The Project “EU4Women: Economic Empowerment through Social Enterprise” is a two-year project implemented by the Near East Foundation UK (NEF UK) and the Women’s Development Resource Center Foundation (WDRC) will provide support to 12 civil society organisations in Aragatsotn, Gegharkunik, Lori and Syunik Marzes advocating for women’s rights or helping women and children at risk. The project with a total budget of EUR 446,797 (EU contribution of EUR 400,000) will help these CSOs to launch or further develop social enterprises to fund programmes of benefit for both their organisation and women in their communities. Through the intensive training and coaching CSOs will be trained on business operations that can support the CSOs in their work and provide income that can sustain and expand projects for vulnerable women. At least 10 social enterprise activities will be developed or upgraded based on prospective business models (e.g. tourism, export-oriented handicrafts, cultural industries, “green” business industries) and over 600 vulnerable women (particularly survivors of gender-based violence and women at risk of gender-based violence) will find brighter options in life through new employment, involvement in social enterprises or participation in expanded projects that meet their needs.
Source and photos: Delegation of the European Union to Armenia