BCSDN: COVID-19 – The Effects to and the Impact of Civil Society in the Balkan Region (Part II)

Publication by Balkan Civil Society Development Network, May 2020 – accessible here

This analysis looks at the State of CSOs, their Involvement in the Crisis Response & State and Donor Support

Civil society in the Balkans has been facing many uncertainties and difficulties brought about by the COVID-19 crisis. CSOs have been adjusting their operations and priorities to respond adequately to the emergency situation and still meet their goals, all the while struggling with the funding and support available from both the states and the donors. Despite the experience of many CSOs in providing services in a crisis response, or the expertise in areas affected by the state of emergency and the measures enacted, in most cases CSOs have not been included in the national coordinated crisis responses, and even less in the consultations or decision-making processes and crisis bodies.

Still, driven by self-initiative, CSOs have greatly contributed in filling the gaps and responding to the increased needs of citizens, especially to the most vulnerable and marginalized groups. Even without acknowledgement or economic support measures by governments, CSOs have proved they can be a relevant and irreplaceable partner to the state in such unprecedented times. Having this in mind, the role of donors as partners and supporters of civil society will be even more important both in ensuring its sustainability and supporting the CSOs’ efforts and shifted priorities. Now, more than ever, it is necessary for CSOs and the whole society to work together and across sectors, to support and complement as much as possible the efforts of public authorities, the private sector, academia, media and every actor helping to mitigate the negative effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.