Local communities engaged in cross-border cooperation
In eastern Slovakia, Norway Grants projects spur sustainable development in the disadvantaged border region.
The challenges facing the region of East Slovakia includes ending poverty and spurring development. According to Katarína Vajdová of the Civil Society Development Foundation in Slovakia, sustainable economic and social development will only come about if local stakeholders are directly involved in development projects and cross-border cooperation with Ukraine.
In March 2008 the Civil Society Development Foundation took on the task of managing a €2.1 million fund under the Norway Grants that supports small-scale projects by local communities in the Slovak-Ukraine border region.
15 ongoing projects
So far, 15 projects have been awarded support under the fund. These range from projects monitoring the Slovak-Ukraine border, as part of the country's duties as a Schengen member, to small projects promoting active tourism to the region. In one of these, called "Green Artery of Tourism", 15 jobs have already been created, and several more are foreseen as eco-friendly tourism in the area develops further.
According to Vajdová the fund has two advantages. "Improving the capacity for creating sustainable development in the region is of major importance. This gives a boost to the public's belief in and ability to help themselves. Secondly, the fund contributes to a culture of transparency, in that public funds are allocated through an open and rule-bound process", she said.
Local government cooperation
Cooperation between Slovakian and Ukrainian local governments is another important aspect of the fund. Cross-border cooperation is rarely as direct and committed as in projects concerning water management of shared rivers between the neighbouring countries. The repeated struggle with flooding rivers in the region makes the support from the Norway Grants to assist local governments with flood prevention projects important.
Two open calls have been completed, with one further call for allocation of the remaining funds to be held this autumn. According to Vajdová, the funding has been welcomed enthusiastically in East Slovakia. "Especially in the current global economic crisis, the support from Norway is highly sought after", she said.
OPENING DOORS TO NEW ARENAS OF COOPERATION
Regional policy and cross-border activities
Type & project assistance:
Civil Society Development Foundation (CSDF)
Type of institution:
Non governmental organisation
Grant agreement date:
14 March 2008
The purpose of the Fund is the capacity building within cross-border and regional strategies, with the overall objective to promote the sustainable development of East-Slovakia’s poor border regions and municipalities. Reference is made to the application, dated 23 January 2007 and the additional information provided by the Focal Point dated on 20 April 2007, 2 July 2007, 3 August 2007 and 11 October 2007.
The completed Fund shall include the following activities:
- Re-granting towards selected sub-projects.
- Fund management and publicity.
The Intermediary is the Civil Society Development Foundation (CSDF).
The Focal Point shall ensure that the state budget of the Slovak Republic will provide at least 15 percent of the estimated eligible costs of the Fund.