Review of the cultural heritage projects in the Czech Republic
Many pieces of cultural heritage in the Czech Republic would have been subject to complete deterioration without the EEA and Norway Grants. The review finds the support from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to have a significant and positive impact on the preservation of European cultural heritage in the Czech Republic.
Support to cultural heritage projects is particularly dominant within the Czech Republic. The country has the highest number and the highest proportion of supported cultural heritage projects of all the 15 beneficiary states.
The review concludes that the EEA and Norway Grants have provided a significant strengthening of cultural heritage preservation in the Czech Republic. Many of the supported projects involve saving pieces of cultural heritage that have been in a critical state and were in danger of complete deterioration. Such projects include the restoration of Rajhrad Benedictine Abbey in Moravia and the renovation of the Stucco and Fresco Decorations of the Basilica of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary in Prague.
Another important impact of the cultural heritage support in the Czech Republic is the digitalisation of documents and publications. The digitalisation of some 16.000 items will make this information available to the public. The review highlights a project by the National Library in Prague and its digitalisation of non-periodical publications from the 19th century, an important period for Czech national renaissance, language and literature.
Key overall findings
• The support has helped to revive historical buildings that would otherwise have fallen into disrepair, and also to erect buildings that had already been lost, and for which only the construction documentation remained.
• The support covered the digitalisation of endangered documents that have now been made freely accessible to experts and the public.
• It was documented that proper rehabilitation works have taken place and that the finished projects are outstanding as compared to their initial state.
• The supported projects cover a wide range of cultural heritage items which have local, regional and national importance. The projects also have a wide geographical distribution.
• Local professional capacity and skills were developed, revived and strengthened during the rehabilitation.
• Due to lack of baseline data and indicators, evidence of “cultural” and “educational” impacts have been difficult to document, however there are many examples of increased awareness and sense of identity and ownership as results of the projects.
• An assessment of what type of quantitative baseline and targets that can be applied for CHs and how they should be specified should be carried out.
• From a financial management point of view there is a clear need for Project Promoters to get advance payment to ensure a smooth project cashflow. This will also assist in the sorting out of problems related to exchange rate differences.
• Based on the needs, quality and competence demonstrated in the reviewed projects, further funding from EEA/Norway Grants is recommended.
Midterm evaluation 2008
The EEA and Norway Grants have been warmly appreciated in the beneficiary states, according to a new report. The funds have been highly visible and the many open calls for project proposals have spurred strong interest.
Prepared by: Price Waterhouse Coopers
Download the evaluation (PDF)
The mid-term evaluation was commissioned by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) on request from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA) to provide input to the continued implementation of the current grant schemes and to the planning of future grant schemes.
The evaluation is comprehensive in scope, covering all fifteen beneficiary states, with case studies in three beneficiary states: the Czech Republic, Estonia and Poland. The analysis covers the period from inception in 2004 until end of March 2008.
Key overall findings
• The grants have been welcomed very enthusiastically by the beneficiaries and the demonstrated in-country demand is high.
• Despite some successes, there are considerable inefficiencies in implementation, which have led to significant delays.
• Objectives at program level are vaguely defined and are not supported by indicators and targets.
• According to the report, funds and programmes appear to be most successful. They have a programmatic approach, clear prioritisation, objectives and targets.
• Timely accomplishment of disbursement targets is at risk due to delays in initial implementation.
For the remainder of the programming period:
• There is a need to devote resources to ensuring timely commitment of the outstanding amount, and a speedy disbursement of the remaining 97 percent of the allocation.
• Mechanism to aggregate project level indicators and better link these with program level objectives should be strengthened so that program level progress can be determined.
• The reviewers suggest that more responsibility be delegated to the beneficiary states when it comes to the appraisal of applications, selection of projects and monitoring of implementation.
For future programming
• There is a need to establish clear objectives, indicators and targets at the program level and ensure sufficient linkages with country programs and with individual projects.
• Future financial mechanism should apply the principles of additionality and proportionality in order to avoid donor replication of country processes when adequate capacity exists at country level. The donors may consider using existing risk and capacity assessment conducted by other partners.
• The donors should consider adopting a programmatic approach where programs and their objectives and targets would be negotiated bilaterally with beneficiary states.
• The implementation could rely on country systems where sufficient capacity exists, with beneficiary states responsible for financial management and monitoring, as is customary in EU regional policy.
• The beneficiaries would be accountable for results and reporting to donors. Such an approach would realize significant efficiency gains, sacrifice little in terms of quality and control, and contribute to more country-level ownership; and ultimately promote the objectives of lowering social and economic disparities in EEA.