Presentation of the CSOSI 2020 Report for North Macedonia: Responsive CSOs and Enhanced CSOs’ Cooperation in Times of Crisis

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On 3rd September 2021, BCSDN held an online event to present the key findings of the Civil Society Organizations Sustainability Index (CSOSI) 2020 Report for North Macedonia. The report prepared by BCSDN based on discussions with a a panel of country experts is included in the 2020 CSOSI for Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia that will be released by USAID and FHI 360 in the upcoming period. 

Ms. Biljana Spasovska, BCSDN’s Executive Director, opened the event reflecting that besides the crisis and challenging civil society operating environment in 2020, CSOs were among the most recognized and responsive actors, which adapted their projects and abilities to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic. CSOs accommodated their activities to assist their constituencies, especially providing services to the most affected and marginalized groups. An introductory speech on the event was further provided by Ms. Dawn Carmin, USAID’s General Development Office Director in North Macedonia, who recognized civil society resilience as crucial in a difficult period during 2020. Ms. Carmin has specifically pointed to USAID role in supporting the enabling environment through new programming and effective partnership, presented in 3 development objectives of the USAID’s new country development cooperation strategy for North Macedonia 2020-2025, based on: greater economic growth through improved competitiveness; fostering economic opportunities attractive to youth; and supporting the critical need for accountability of government institutions and citizens to increase their actions to counter corruption.

The authors of the report, Ms. Snezana Kamilovska Trpovska from the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC) and Ms. Marija Vishinova from BCSDN, reflected on some of the most important events affecting the CSOs’ sustainability during 2020, presented in the findings of each of the seven dimensions covered by the CSOSI methodology.

Some of the conclusions were that Organizational capacity within the CSO sector improved due to the progress in constituency building, volunteerism, and the use of technology. At the same time, CSOs quickly adapted to the new conditions during the pandemic and provided new services to address their constituencies’ needs, resulting in an improved result in service provision. The sector’s public image was also enhanced, due to the positive media coverage and citizens’ recognition of CSOs’ positive role in society, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. At the same time, the sector’s financial viability declined slightly due to the reduction of state funding for CSOs from both the central and local budgets. The legal environment, advocacy, and sectoral infrastructure remained stable.

By sharing participants’ individual experiences during 2020, the event concluded with an open discussion on specific dimensions’ findings. Bellow, please find some of the reflections covered:

  • Every crisis is also an opportunity for improvement and change in the operating civil society environment;
  • In 2020, many coalitions and networks have cooperated towards accomplishing and promoting shared goals;
  • CSOs cooperation is especially crucial during a period of crisis, reflecting on the sector’s maturity and self-criticism;
  • The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of the crisis management process for overall civil society resilience;
  • The state funding is crucial for the overall financial viability and long-term civil society sustainability;
  • Some of the local grass-roots organizations were faced with challenges to continue their activities online;
  • For effective pandemic response and enhanced government-civil society relations, CSOs should be included in crisis management bodies on a central and local level.

We look forward to your feedback and a further discussion on the report’s findings. For more information, please reach out to us at: executiveoffice@balkancsd.net.

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