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Civil Society Development

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Training in the framework of the USAID supported Capacity Building for Civil Society Organizations project.
Training in the framework of the USAID supported Capacity Building for Civil Society Organizations project.

USAID civil society development activities foster informed civic participation in community-based initiatives and public advocacy across the social and economic spectrum in Belarus. USAID empowers citizens to participate in social and economic decision-making by encouraging cooperation between civil society, local governments, and the private sector, helping to create sustainable solutions to local development challenges. USAID provides training, expert advice, and small grants to support civil society organizations (CSOs) and communities, independent business associations and legal assistance providers. Exchange programs introduce Belarusians to best American professional practices and offer opportunities to experience American culture, traditions and values.


Capacity Building for Civil Society Organizations (CBCSO)

USAID promotes the development of civil society and civic participation in decision- and policy-making at the local and national levels. For over a decade, USAID has supported programs in civil society and community development. The CBCSO project builds on the achievements of the previous programs to further strengthen local CSOs, as well as professional and local communities, to better serve the needs of the society. The project is implemented by a consortium of NGOs, including the Eurasia Foundation (USA) and New Eurasia Establishment (Belarus).

USAID support aims to increase the sustainability of local CSOs, enhance their advocacy efforts, promote sustainable development of professional and local communities, and improve the quality of services delivered by CSOs to target beneficiaries and the general public. USAID provides support to CSOs in addressing the development needs of professional and local communities. Community initiatives and professional networks are supported through a series of activities, including roundtables and discussions, strategy development, training, and study tours. USAID assists CSOs to build and maintain open channels of communication with authorities at different levels to promote the interests of their target groups, and have a voice in decision- and policy-making.

In 2014-2015, representatives of 140 CSOs and initiatives were trained in core CSO development competencies, such as project management, human resources, and financial management. They completed over 8,000 hours of professional training and received over 1,000 hours of individual consultations. In 2014, 25 grassroots organizations successfully completed an initial stage of organizational capacity building. In 2015, 18 of these 25 organizations implemented projects to enhance their organizational capacity and implement small scale local initiatives. In 2016, the project’s capacity building campaign continued with the selection of 22 organizations to receive support.

Community Connections

Community Connections (CC) is an exchange program that supports U.S. public diplomacy goals and builds and promotes mutual understanding between the American and Belarusian people. CC contributes to economic and democratic reforms by exposing Belarusians to American best practices and culture.

The program provides Belarusian professionals in business, education, law, civil society, and government the opportunity to gain practical experience from their American counterparts within their respective fields. The program lasts three weeks and includes site visits to American governmental agencies, businesses and CSOs. Each year, 60 participants representing different sectors take part.

Since 2006, about 600 professionals have successfully visited the U.S. under the USAID-supported exchange program. Through these visits, participants were exposed to innovative and best practices in the areas of: management and organizational capacity building for CSOs, small businesses and local government; business and economic education; service provision for vulnerable populations; prevention of domestic violence, trafficking-in-persons, and substance abuse; volunteerism; environmental protection; and culture preservation.