"Kosovo/a Initiative" Assessment Mission
R E P O R T
DRC Job no. 503-556
Supported by FRESTA
NGOs in the context of return
Registration of local and international NGOs is governed by UNMIK regulations, through a straightforward administrative procedure. Donor funding for NGOs is still largely available for reconstruction, income generation, community rebuilding and reconciliation projects (mainly related to minority return of IDPs), but these funds are not equally accessible to all relevant organizations.
Within the framework set by UNMIK structures and outlined in the "Manual for Sustainable Returns", international NGOs have taken the primary responsibility of implementing comprehensive return projects, whereas local NGOs mostly come into play when smaller actions in community work are needed. According to the most recent list of return concept papers approved under the established mechanism, there is only one or two local NGO in Kosovo/a that became lead agencies in such return projects.
Therefore, the issues highlighted by the two NGO communities differ according to their perspectives and focus areas. International NGOs are more concerned with reconstruction and return project implementation and planning, coordination and the "big picture", whereas local NGOs tend to talk more about concrete issues in their communities, stressing legal problems of their clients, lack of resources, skilled staff and links with other regions, as well as pressing issues in their respective communities (poverty, violence, crime, drug abuse, etc.).
Within the local NGO community there is also a substantial difference in the development level, from large and well established NGOs that have been around for a longer while, such as CDHRF and Mother Teresa Society, operating throughout Kosovo, and smaller ones that operate in local communities, sometimes lacking basic resources to do their everyday work.
Civil society actors, primarily NGOs, could serve as a good mechanism of facilitating contact and slowly reconstructing the fabric of the overall society, provided they are assisted by other stakeholder in charge of ensuring security and safety for all, as well as equal access to property, services, education, employment and other opportunities.
It is likely that in the future there will be a decrease of funding in Kosovo, due to priorities in other parts of the world. It is therefore essential to strengthen the capacity of local organizations to continue fundraising for projects on a much wider basis. In this respect it is therefore of high importance to enhance and further initiate meaningful operational partnerships and knowledge transfer between international NGOs operating in Kosovo and their local counterparts, especially local NGOs but also with local communities/authorities.