EU support of Euro 2.5 mn to strengthen civil society engagement in sustainable development and good governance was formalised on Thursday, May 25, in Thimphu.
The support comes under the Multi-annual Indicative Programme (MIP) 2014-2020 EU support to Bhutan.
The EU ambassador to Bhutan, Tomasz Kozlowski, said this support is very special and the expected results are to improve CSOs engagement in sustainable development and good governance through a capacity development programme.
He also said the support is to improve the enabling environment for CSOs through technical assistance to the relevant authorities and facilitation of multi-stakeholder dialogue. “EU and Bhutan enjoy a strong bilateral relationship and I am confident that this new support will go a long way to assist the government in its effort to improve the livelihood of Bhutanese citizens,” said the ambassador. He also said the support reflected EU’s willingness to keep the relationship growing as well reaffirmed EU’s determination to support Bhutan’s ambitious development agenda.
GNHC secretary Thinley Namgyel said that during the 2016 National Day 23 CSOs were conferred award of merit by His Majesty in recognition of the good work done by them. But CSOs today faced challenges is in terms of capacity constraint and sustainability of some of the things they are trying to do. “We are glad that through EU support to CSOs authority many of these issues will be addressed and we are thankful to the EU for the generous support,” he said.
The Chairman of CSO Authority, Sonam Dorji, said there are 53 CSOs in the country and there are some CSOs that have been implementing EU funded projects through global proposals.
“The whole fund is not only to implement the project, but around 20 percent is for capacity building,” he said. Prior to this, he said they have used funds from government outsource project and activities, from international NGOs based in Bhutan and CSOs fund facilities for 4 to 5 years.
“Today, individual CSOs are sourcing from government, private and international donor agencies and now we have the new opportunity, which will have greater impact for all the CSOs in the country,” he added. “Through this support, society at large will be benefited and CSOs themselves will gain a learning experience through capacity building in terms of implementation and processes.”
He said that sustainability of individual CSOs is challenging whereby donor agencies withdraw or minimize their support. “Lack of proper corporate social responsibility activities and policy tools is another challenge,” he said.
Another challenge was inclusiveness in a way that there is collaboration with the government agencies, which today was lacking or was minimum. “One thing we want to do from this project is increase the network between government agencies and CSOs so there is dialogue, so that government can outsources the activities to the CSOs for effective implementation of the projects,” he said.
The support will not be distributed or divided among 53 CSOs but will be open to all the CSOs and fund will be given based on the project proposal and its effectiveness.