10 December 2021
On November (18-19), the Western Balkans Fund conducted an opinion research campaign with stakeholders from all the Contracting Parties to identify current obstacles to regional cooperation, local realities and ways to bring WBF closer to the needs of Civil Society Organisations and other eligible stakeholders. To that end, WBF organised six Focus Groups in each of the Contracting Parties. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Focus Group were conducted through an online Conference Call.
Application and implementation
The interviewed participants reported a good experience and no significant issues during the applications process. No one underlined any major obstacle. Key elements appreciated by former applicants were the fair amount of documents requested at the applications stage. The majority agree that it is a good approach not to require time-consuming documents at the initial application stage, asking for more proofs and documents, only the selected projects.
For the applicants and the grantees, WBF is unique because no organisation in the region has such a broad scope of areas of intervention. They appreciate that WBF is a showcase of success, just like the governments of WB6 intended when WBF was established. Regarding the modus operandi, the absolute majority believed that the change in the H.R. Guidelines and in-kind policy regarding the obligatory 20% of co-financing are great features that make the current Call for Proposal more attractive towards their needs.
Asked about the negatives, the participants generally agreed about the limited impact that WBF can have with its limited funds. Most of the research population appreciated the increase of the maximum potential amount, but they would like to see more funds committed.
The pandemic is identified as a critical challenge by the vast majority of the research population. However, the majority don’t foresee any problems regarding implementing the awarded projects next year.
Regional cooperation has improved, and more opportunities exist, especially when compared with five or ten years ago. This is the general sentiment of the poll population. There are more funding opportunities now, especially in human rights and democracy. On the negative side, the political climate and bureaucracy were often the main factor hindering regional cooperation.