The successful closing of the Swiss-Hungarian NGO Block Grant and Scholarship Fund
On Monday, 12 October 2015 the three-year programme of the Swiss-Hungarian NGO Block Grant and Scholarship Fund has been successfully completed with a closing conference held in Miskolc. There have been 111 projects (102 NGO grants and 9 scholarship schemes) implemented with the support of the Swiss Contribution between 2012 and 2015. The target area of the NGO Block Grant has been Northern-Hungary and the North Great Plains, while scholarships were available countrywide.
The Swiss Confederation, according to its agreement made with the European Commission in 2006, has provided a total of 1 billion Swiss francs to the ten countries that have joined the European Union since 2004, with the purpose of reducing economic and social disparities. The strengthening and capacity building of NGOs as well as supporting marginalized children to begin or continue their secondary education were two important objectives of the programme.
The NGO Block Grant and the Scholarship Fund in Hungary were launched in mid-July 2012, and were operated based upon a trilateral agreement signed between the Swiss Donor, the Hungarian National Coordination Unit and the consortium led by Ökotárs – Hungarian Environmental Partnership Foundation. The grant manager was selected through an open tendering process. The other three members of the consortium implementing the Grant were Autonomia Foundation, the Foundation for the Development of Democratic Rights and Carpathian Foundation Hungary. During the programme, 111 projects received support totaling almost 1.3 billion HUF (5.4 million CHF) in two grant rounds. From among the 102 projects supported in the NGO Block Grant, 67 were implemented in the thematic area of provision of social services with special emphasis on the social integration of Roma, and 35 in responses to environmental concerns. The small projects represented a broad diversity, but their common feature was that they were implemented for and involving people living in marginalised areas in the target regions: children and adults, villagers and city dwellers, Roma and non-Roma – they engaged or had impacted the life of tens of thousands of people in total. Through the 9 projects of the Scholarship Fund, 679 children received financial and in-kind of support (tutoring, skills development and community experiences).
The consortium managing the grant has provided assistance to the organisations involved in all stages of the application and implementation process. Theme days and workshops were organized, guidelines prepared, and establishment of connections among the supported NGOs was promoted via networking meetings.
Tasks were divided by themes within the consortium: Autonómia was in charge of the social projects, Ökotárs of the environmental projects, and Kárpátok of the scholarship ones, while DemNet was responsible for financial control and background work. Programme managers kept regular contact and gave advice to the supported projects in their portfolio. Possibly partly due to this, none of the projects failed – there were only two that needed to be aborted at mid-term, all the others were completed successfully.
At the closing conference on Monday, the results and lessons learned were summarized by the supported organisations. The event was opened by Ulrich Stürzinger, Head of Division at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The Swiss Ambassador to Hungary, Mr. Jean-Francois Paroz has also attended the closing event. The opening speech was followed by the overall evaluation of the NGO programme and presentations of a few successful projects. Within interactive sessions, participants also had the opportunity to evaluate the highlights and the problems themselves. The day was finally closed by Veronika Móra, the director of Ökotárs.
Veronika Móra, Ökotárs Alapítvány, firstname.lastname@example.org, +36-20-480-4328
Swiss Contribution Office: Katalin Bábosik, Senior Programme Officer,email@example.com, +36-1-460-7055