Category Archives: NGO

Lifelong Learning Programmes Info Sessions

EU_flag_LLP_ENThe Foundation for the Management of European Lifelong Learning Programmes (IDEP) is organising information meetings for interested organisations on the Comenius, Leonardo da Vinci and Grundtvig programmes. The purpose of the meetings is to provide the necessary guidelines and information on how to fill in and submit applications to these programmes.

The events organised are:

Wednesday 16/01/2013 – Leonardo da Vinci – Partnerships
10:00, Premises of IDEP

Wednesday 16/01/2013 – Grundtvig – Learning Partnerships
16:00, Hotel Kleopatra – Nicosia

Wednesday 16/01/2013 – Comenius – School Partnerships
16:00, Hotel Kleopatra – Nicosia

Wednesday 23/01/2013 – Grundtvig – Workshops
16:00, Premises of IDEP – Nicosia

Thursday 24/01/2013 – Comenius – Regio Partnerships
10:00, Premises of IDEP – Nicosia

Wednesday 20/02/2013 – Grundtvig – Senior Volunteering Projects
16:00, Premises of IDEP – Nicosia

CCMC is currently working on two projects funded under Lifelong Learning:

logo2Media Hackers aims to provide a flexible and basic training for journalists so that they are better equipped to cope with emerging new technologies. We are working with European partners to identify the current skills and training needs of journalists, and to create state of the art training material that will ultimately increase the employability of journalists by offering new and innovative ways of media training. You can follow us on the project’s Facebook page!

LOGO_mComSimilarly, through the m-Com  project, CCMC and its partners are develop educational approaches in a community-driven context with the aim of empowering Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) through Community Media literacy. You can track our activities on Facebook, or you can tweet about m-Com on the hashtag #mcomeu.

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“Awaken the African Giant” Kapuscinski Lecture, Wednesday 16 January 2013

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For the second year running, CCMC member the Cyprus Island-Wide NGO Development Platform (CYINDEP) is hosting a Kapuscinski Development Lecture on Wednesday 16th January 2013 at 18:30, at the Home for Cooperation in Nicosia.

“Awaken the African Giant” will be the topic of a lecture by Nick Moon, a winner of several awards for bringing together the entrepreneurial spirit of the poor, innovative tools and technologies, and the power of the marketplace, developing a cost effective and sustainable way to help families lift themselves out of poverty. He is a co-founder of KickStart and is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Georgios Markopouliotis, Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus will offer a welcoming speech on behalf of the organisers, the European Commission and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The event is also supported by the NGO Support Centre.

The lectures honour the name of Ryszard Kapuscinski, a Polish journalist and writer, who died in 2007. Kapuscinski, whose books were translated into many languages, was often named the “Third World Chronicler” or the “Voice of the Poor” for his famous reportages and books describing developing countries on all continents. Among other books, he was famous for: “The Emperor” on Ethiopia, “Shah of Shahs” about Iran, “The Shadow of the Sun” about Africa, “Another Day of Life” about Angola, and “Imperium” about the Soviet Union.

You can register for the event on Facebook  and you can follow the discussion on Twitter@CYINDEP @kapulectures

Alternatively you can contact Natasha Apostolidou Efthymiou at natasha.apostolidou@cyindep.eu or by phone +357-99-551699 .

Simultaneous translation will be available in Greek and Turkish.

Civil Society’s New Year’s Wish List

This article was first published on page 19 of The Cyprus Weekly (4 January 2013).

2013, dubbed by many as the most difficult year for Cyprus since 1974, is likely to be a year when the general public, and by extension civil society organisations, will increase their demands on the political leadership in light of economic austerity.

Here’s to wishing (and working) for a Happy New Year 2013!

1) Greater transparency and access to information
Writing in The Cyprus Weekly back in November, Maria Kapardis, Chairperson of Transparency Cyprus, spoke of the urgent need for greater transparency in political party funding, as highlighted in the Council of Europe’s GRECO report in 2011. In December, the presidential candidates who had put forward recommendations for fighting corruption all pulled out of an open discussion organised by Transparency Cyprus on the issue. However, going into 2013, there is a momentum generated behind a move for greater openness at the political level, and with the austerity measures likely to bite hard this year, the demand for transparency and accountability will grow. 2013 will also be a good time to implement the recommendations of the Access Info Cyprus project, which include, amongst others, adopting a law on access to public information, as well as full and proactive publication of information about the structure, policies, functioning, and budget of each public, to be presented in a way that is members of the general public can understand.

2) Protection and support for society’s vulnerable and marginalised groups
“During the economic crisis people with special needs and especially those with severe disability, face bigger problems due to their disabilities. The weight of these measures will affect people with special needs who are living on the poverty line even more.” A statement by the Cyprus Paraplegic Organisation, issued last November condemning impending cuts to government spending on benefits received by people with special needs. Nevertheless cuts went ahead as planned; cuts which will also affect other vulnerable groups in society including recognised refugees and asylum seekers. It appears that the time has come to close ranks in civil society around the issue of social policy and support. No longer are organisations fighting separate causes, and there must be a realisation that there is both a common cause to fight for and a value in the strength in numbers.

3) Establishing a functioning legal framework for civil society
There is a risk that we sound repetitive… However back in August we highlighted the fact that the process for reform of the Cyprus law as this relates to non-governmental organisations was stuck and in urgent need of a kick up the backside. We spoke with both the Ministries of the Interior and Finance, both of whom assured us that progress was being made and that we should expect “movement” in the process by the end of the calendar year. While both ministries may point to more pressing economic concerns, the majority of the groundwork has been done, and what is needed now is more of a ‘political’ push. We hope that after the presidential elections in February progress can be made towards seeing this process through to an acceptable conclusion for all.

4) Effective participation in the Cyprus peace process
Another process which came to a grinding halt last year, but is expected to be resuscitated in the post-election period. Whichever of the candidates assumes the Presidency they will be faced with a population that is frustrated by the lack of clear progress towards a solution. According to research conducted by the bicommunal think-tank Cyprus2015, there is an increasing trend towards a “no” vote: 51% amongst Greek Cypriot and 42% amongst Turkish Cypriots. In light of this, we believe that the leaders of the two communities would do well to consider Cyprus2015’s “five principles” for redesigning the peace process, and in particular to “develop mechanisms of public consultation, to ensure two-way communication between the leadership and society at large, thus creating a peace process which is owned by the grassroots”.

Civil Society as a vehicle for Active Ageing

This article was first published on page 16 of The Cyprus Weekly (16 November).

The European Union (EU) designated 2012 as the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, and has identified civil society as an important actor in support of active ageing. Through its various programmes it is improving the accessibility to mobility for individuals involved in adult education, as well as assisting people from marginal social contexts to attain alternative access to adult education.

Europe’s population is living longer. The average life expectancy at birth in the 53 countries in the European region of the World Health Organisation (WHO) is over 72 years for men and around 80 for women. “Promoting healthy behaviour and ensuring age-friendly environments for all populations and age groups are important steps to add life to years,” says Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO’s Regional Director for Europe.

A Eurobarometer survey in 2011 on Active Ageing revealed that 95% of Cypriots think that people over the age of 55 can “contribute greatly” to society by taking care of their grandchildren. While this may come as no surprise, the fact that just over half of the population thinks that the over 55s can contribute as volunteers is indicative of general attitudes of involvement in civil society activity. Whether a cultural trait or not, in the midst of an economic crisis that shows no signs of relenting such attitudes may be about to change as to how Cyprus’, and by extension the European Union’s, ageing population participates later in life.

Throughout the year of Active Ageing, a number of initiatives have been taking place with Cypriot participation. The DigiMe Photo and Film Competition, now in its second year and supported by the European Commission Representation in Cyprus, has decided to focus on active ageing in order to raise awareness of the contribution that older people make to society. Run jointly by the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) and the NGO Support Centre, it offers the opportunity to everyone to submit short films and photos, with the winner of each category in line to take home their very own iPad. However, judging is not just based on the entries themselves, but also on the way they are promoted online, measured by the number of people who “tweet” about it, “like it” on Facebook, and “view” it on YouTube.

The EU’s Grundtvig Lifelong Learning Programme is currently supporting two initiatives with Cypriot involvement. Raising Horizons is a project which facilitates the exchange of 12 senior volunteers between the NGO Support Centre, based in Nicosia, and Community Action Dacorum, a community service charity active in Hertfordshire, UK. Just this week a group of volunteers are in Cyprus working with Cans for Kids, a charity which collects and recycles aluminium cans donating all proceeds for the purchase of medical equipment for children’s wards at Cypriot hospitals. Young and Adults for a Better Life, coordinated locally by Euroculture, is bringing together young people and seniors from 11 European countries from various backgrounds with the aim of finding ways to bridge the generation gap and help people create better lives for themselves.

Check out these initiatives online to see what you can do in support of Active Ageing!
DigiMe: http://competition2012.digime.org.cy/en/
Raising Horizons: http://www.ngo-sc.org/
Young Adults for a Better Life: http://youngandadultsforabetterlife.blogspot.com/

 

Five Years in the Making: NGO Law Reform in Cyprus

This article was first published on page 16-17 of The Cyprus Weekly (3 August).

Yiouli Taki cuts a frustrated figure. As the coordinator for the NGO Initiative, an informal group of civil society representatives working towards reform of the legal framework for non-governmental organisations (NGOs), she has spent countless working hours organising meetings and drafting letters with the aim of achieving greater legal recognition of the sector. “This is as much about the process of reform as it is about the legislation”, says Taki, who doubles up as lead researcher at INDEX Research and Dialogue, a non-profit organisation working on issues of social policy. “Five years since this process started we do not know where we stand, and we are frustrated”, she adds.

Back in November 2007 things were on the up. Civil society, a novel concept for a country which just three years previous had joined the European Union (EU) had been limited to – and dominated by – institutions such as trade unions, the Church and political parties. The concepts of volunteerism and philanthropy covered the range of activities promoted by these institutions as a way of giving back to society. Cyprus’ accession to the EU created new opportunities and incentives for participation of a new form of civil society which had been developing in Cyprus since the late 1990s that was neither politically motivated nor philanthropic in its outlook on issues of societal concern. Increasingly active at the European level through networking and partnerships, Cypriot NGOs have started becoming more assertive in their demands for participation in decision-making processes.

In parallel, institutions of the state, the Planning Bureau in particular, started to see NGOs as potential implementing partners for policy both at home in abroad. European practice in the field of development cooperation – the delivery of financial support for countries in the developing ‘Global South’ – suggested that national agencies implement their policies in collaboration with local NGOs. CyprusAid, Cyprus’ development agency, has been implementing policy through ‘delegating’ funds through other EU member states such as Denmark and Ireland as well as through United Nations (UN) organisations like the World Food Programme. For collaboration to take place with local NGOs it was necessary for them to, amongst others, fulfil certain principles of financial transparency and accountability. Reform of the legal framework thus became a ‘wish’ for the Planning Bureau. “Not so much a wish, but also a need”, Taki responds.

On the initiative of the Planning Bureau funding was secured from the United Nations Development Programme in Cyprus (UNDP-ACT) and a reform process was launched. In April 2008 a report assessing Cyprus’ legal and regulatory framework was published by the European Centre for Not-for-Profit Law. The report, available online, included a series of recommendations for the relevant Ministries of the Interior and Finance calling especially for the adoption of legislation which would set out a “Public Benefit Status” category for NGOs. The NGO Working Group – formed in June 2008 and later renamed the NGO Initiative – was an effort on behalf of civil society to participate effectively in the public consultation process expected to be launched by the respective Ministries. “We had requested in our correspondence from the very beginning that our positions are taken into consideration in a future bill, and that we would like for there to be a consultation in line with standards set by the Council of Europe”, said Taki.

And there are serious shortcomings in the existing legislation. “The obstacles to registering an NGO under the Law on Associations and Foundations must be removed for the civil society sector to grow and become more professional”, says Nadia Karayianni, who represents the NGO Support Centre in the NGO Initiative. “Just recently we had the case of ACCEPT [an organisation working on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights], for which official registration effectively depended on permission from the Church because the law asks for the opinion of so-called relevant stakeholders. I think this case illustrates clearly the problems associated with this approach.”

Exogenous factors have also made it harder for NGOs to operate effectively. At present there are disparate provisions for state funding for NGOs, with limited operational support available. There are also severe limitations on the activities that are deemed as ‘profit-making’ for NGOs, which makes financial sustainability a key concern. So when the government imposed a 350 Euro tax levy on registered companies, including not-for-profits in response to the financial crisis, those managing and working for not-for-profits have had to dig into their pockets to keep their organisations afloat. The likelihood is that this fee would have been avoided had new legislation been in place sooner. Taki insists that the problem is one of definition. “When you start structuring a bill you have to put some basic concepts down on paper, and this is where the state creates definitions that are conflicting with those given by the sector itself”, says Taki. “Instead of entering into a real dialogue they are trying to update the legislative framework based on outdated concepts of what constitutes public benefit activity.”

Things could be set to move before the end of the year. According to information obtained by the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) the Ministry of Finance’s work on all aspects of the legislation reform, including feedback received on relevant aspects handled by the Inland Revenue Department, was concluded in May this year. The new legislation package will be sent to the Law Office of the Republic of Cyprus for legal check once the summer period is over.

However for the process to be successful the Ministry of the Interior must expedite its own procedures as well. The submission of the two draft bills for Parliament approval at the same time will make it easier for lawmakers to see the correlation between them. “We are not aware of what is happening at the Ministry”, Taki insists. “We have had unanswered correspondence since November 2010! However, we acknowledge that a number of position changes took place in the last few months, and, having sent a new package to the Minister on 22 June of all this correspondence, we are hopeful that a constructive dialogue will start with Ms Eleni Mavrou very soon.”

From outside looking in, there is no reason why the appropriate legislative reforms cannot take place before the end of 2012. Inter-ministerial communication will be key for the bills to reach Parliament, and this is where the Planning Bureau could play its final role in the process. As the holder of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, a positive conclusion by December 2012 would be further indication of Cyprus’ European transition.

Links of the Week: Communications for Development

The internet is an incredible source of information, and we are reading and learning every day about issues we care about. So we thought that we would share with you the 5 most interesting links from the world of media, and this week our focus is on media, or communications more generally, for development.

1) ‘Media and governance: what the academics say’

Direct from the blog of Panos London comes a post from Mary Myers, a communications for development consultant specialising in radio in Africa, who has been pondering the question of whether “a pluralistic media can make the government more accountable”. In her post, Myers grapples with the academic angle of answering “yes” to a question that in reality is quite difficult to measure, based on a report she published for the Center for International Media Assistance. Read on to find out which theorists made it onto ‘who’s who’ list of media for development gurus.

 

 

2) ‘Media, Communication and Development: Three Approaches’

Staying with the academic side of things, and a new book by Linje Manyozo from the Department for Media and Communications at the London School of Economics (LSE). According to Ørecomm: Centre for Communication and Glocal Change, the book “critically investigates the three approaches that have characterised most debates in the field of Media, Communications and Development since its emergence in the 1950s, namely, media development, media for development and stakeholder and community engagement”. Ørecomm is a bi-national research group that originated at Malmö University (MAH) and Roskilde University (RUC) for research in the field of Communication for Development, and focuses on the relations between media, communication and social change processes at both global and local levels.

 

3) Media in Fragile Environments: The IONA Methodology

Today CCMC had the pleasure in meeting Eran Fraenkel, a media consultant and trainer who was involved in the development of the United States Institute of Peace‘s Intended-Outcomes Needs Assessment, or IONA for short, methodology, which will help address the lack of clear definition of expected outcomes for media interventions in conflict situations. We will certainly be taking a close look at IONA to see how we can best integrate it within our current working framework, as well as for any future projects we will be implementing in the field of development communications.

 

 

4) Tailor-made planning for NGOs

The Panos London blog has certainly made for interesting reading this week! Bec Shaw Crompton, Panos’ head of programme operations has been blogging about an under-estimated skills-set: project management. Most of us would agree that not enough emphasis is placed on this element of the institutional development of NGOs. He recommends Project Management for Development Professionals (PMD-Pro), the first internationally accredited project management course for NGOs, created by John Cropper who was Oxfam’s head of management accountability and is now a director at LINGOS (Learning In NGOs). Next step is to find out how we can get ourselves accredited on PMD-Pro!

5) Communicating Across borders in the South Caucasus

Last but not least, an entry from Accord, an international review of peace initiatives, published by the London-based organisation Conciliation Resources. In their piece on the role of media in peacebuilding in the South Caucasus, Rachel Clogg and Jenny Norton take a look at Conciliation Resources’ work in the region from 2002 to the present, showing how their work, in conjunction with others organisations focusing on the role of the media, have helped overcome borders, both real and imagined, that have kept people apart. Needless to say we understand how valuable this kind of work is given that we are immersed in this field day in day out. Let’s hope we can have the same degree of success, and perhaps at some point in the future we can work with Conciliation Resources in pursuit of what are obviously common goals.

CCMC running training in Limassol Community Space

CCMC likes to get out and about, connecting with all parts of the island. Today we are in Limassol, providing WordPress for Websites training for our member organisations Terra Cypria and the Environmental Studies Centre of Kritou Terra. The functions we are helping with are installing WordPress, choosing themes, creating menus, adding plugins, working with a multilingual website, and much more! Stay connected to CCMC and find out about upcoming training by subscribing to our newsletter here. 

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#cy2012eublogs – Join the Virtual Hangout with European bloggers at CCMC!

We did say it would happen. So here’s the plan:

With the awesome experience of Buffer Zone Bloggers in mind, CCMC is organising a live-link up with the Council of the European Union to connect Cyprus-based bloggers and online activists with European counterparts participating in an event under the auspices of the Cyprus Presidency of the EU (see previous blog post).

On Thursday 26 July, from 11am to 1pm, the CCMC Community Space will be open for online activists to ‘hang out’ with the bloggers in Brussels through four ‘Google Hangouts’ (http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/hangouts/).

The four discussions will be structured around the thematic priorities of the Presidency:

– Europe, more efficient and sustainable;
– Europe, with a better performing and growth economy;
– Europe, more relevant to its citizens, with solidarity and social cohesion;
– Europe in the world, closer to its neighbours.

In addition to the Hangouts, bloggers and tweeters are encouraged to use the hashtag – #cy2012eublogs – to propose and comment on the issues under discussion. Please reference @CCMCCyprus if you do connect to the meeting so we can track the contributions coming from the Buffer Zone.

For more info on the event go to http://www.consilium.europa.eu/cy2012eublogs.

Look forward to seeing you there!

CASE CLOSED. Charges dropped against Doros Polykarpou and KISA

Doros Polykarpou

“The significance of the verdict stretches beyond the acquittal of Doros Polykarpou. This is a victory for all human rights defenders in Cyprus, and sends out a clear message that KISA and other NGOs have a legitimate right to defend the rights of migrants and asylum seekers” – Anthoula Papadopoulou, KISA

“The protection of human rights is neither a discretionary matter, nor a matter of luxury, but is a necessary element of the rule of law” – Costas Gkazis, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Yesterday’s press conference at the EU House in Nicosia was as much a triumphant announcement that charges had been dropped against KISA‘s Executive Director Doros Polykarpou, as it was a relief that a process which started 18 months ago had reached a favourable conclusion. “If only we could reclaim the 6000 Euro in court expenses!”, joked Polykarpou.

Costas Gkazis speaking at yesterday’s press conference

The verdict issued by the Larnaca District Court pointed out that the prosecution had failed to prove that any criminal offense had been committed by Polykarpou in relation to the violent events which marred the celebration of diversity and multiculturalism at the Rainbow Festival in Larnaca back in November 2010. In its decision, the Court did not accept the testimony of the police officers – who were witnesses of the prosecution – pointing to inconsistencies and unreliability. Moreover, the Court found Doros Polykarpou’s testimony to be both reliable and consistent with the video recordings shown as evidence in Court.

This verdict definitely does not draw a line in the sand, but marks a new chapter in the defence of human rights in Cyprus, and of standing to racist and xenophobic behaviour. CCMC witnessed first hand the terrible events of 5 November 2010, with a number of staff suffering verbal and physical abuse at the hands of groups whose ideology has no place in modern society. The Centre will continue to steadfastly support the work of KISA and its associates in pursuit of a more just and fair treatment of vulnerable groups in our society.

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