projects
Participatory Programs
PARTICIPATORY COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PCD

Participatory Community Development Program is a program, initiated by the Regional Delegation of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent for Central Europe first as a pilot in Hungary (namely by Alex Dressler and Bea Kisszolosi) and later expanded to a number of East and Central European countries like Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia, Romania, Poland (only in 2002-2003). A further expansion of the program is expected in Croatia, Bosnia and Albania (possibly also Tajikistan and Georgia).

The main goal of the program at the time of its start was to support the building and development of the local Red Cross organizations through building capacities in participatory needs assessment, planning and implementing projects in response to those needs while the whole process is done locally and together with the local people.

The goals of the program have widened their scope during the years but the main principle remains unchanged and is a leading concept in all activities:

MAIN PRINCIPLE
The vulnerable persons indeed, all persons should have a basic right to be involved in decisions which directly affect their lives

MAIN GOALS OF THE PROGRAM
  • To improve the life of the vulnerable people.
  • To mobilize the vulnerable communities for common efforts in addressing their priority problems by transferring the initiative to the local people.
  • To reduce the isolation of the different marginalized groups such as ethnic and religious minorities, migrants from other nationalities, children from social institutions by including them equally in the community work.
  • To develop the civil society by equal partnership between the local people, the Red Cross, the local authorities and other local non-governmental organizations.
  • To develop the organization of the Red Cross through recruitment of active and motivated volunteers locally, who work for the benefit of their own community.
  • To develop the local capacity in finding solutions to the problems of the vulnerable people by providing training, participatory assessment, planning and implementation of micro-projects.

Target groups of the program: vulnerable communities with ethnic minorities, living in rural areas (multiethnic communities) or urban areas (all-Roma or ethnically mixed districts).So far in the program actively participated Bulgarians, Roma, Turks, Vlasi (minority group of Romanian origin) and even Arabs.

Regional organizations of the Bulgarian Red Cross (BRC) implementing the program:
Until now the following Regional organizations of the Bulgarian Red Cross have taken a part in the PCD program in a chronological order:
The Municipal Council of BRC in Sofia and the Regional organizations of the BRC in Sliven, Razgrad, Silistra, Haskovo, Vratza, Burgas, Yambol and Varna.
Since 2005 the PCD has been implemented as a pilot with the Arab migrant community in Sofia together with the Association of the Arab Women Light of the Woman as well as with children and youth from the Social-Pedagogical Institution in the village of Sigmen, Burgas region with the active participation of many interested institutions and authorities.

The Donors of the PCD Program:
A long-term donor of the PCD, financed and regionally coordinated through the Regional Delegation of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent for Central Europe is the Norwegian Government with a substantial contribution of the Norwegian Red Cross. This financial support ends in January 2006.
The PCD project in the village of Golesh, Silistra region has been implemented with the valued support of the Spanish Red Cross.
The pilot PCD project with the Arab migrant community in Sofia and the PCD with children and youth from the Social-Pedagogical Institution in the village of Sigmen, Burgas region have been implemented with the support of the British Red Cross. Those projects are ongoing.

WHAT DO WE DO?
1. Workers and volunteers of the BRC, people from the communities, the local authorities and institutions, NGOs and media build together a Participatory Rapid Appraisal Team (PRA is and interactive assessment methodology that allows the participation of practically everyone in the needs assessment process, regardless the ethnicity, language, level of literacy, age or a disability degree)

2. The Team, consisting mainly of local people, but also including external members from the BRC, local authorities and institutions, organizations, at some locations also journalists has the task together with the people from the community to identify and analyze the problems of the vulnerable people and to involve them as active participants in solutions using the following methods:
a. Analysis of secondary data as a basis for the needs assessment;
b. Large Community Meeting for presenting the program and obtaining the common assent on starting the PCD as well as to attract and recruit volunteers for the local team;
c. Training of the PRA Team and preparation for the fieldwork;
d. Large Community Meeting as a start of the Needs Assessment through working groups and preparation of the people for the next stage;
e. Semi-structured interviews in the community for gathering of individual views about the community life and the problems of the local people;
f. Interviews with the authorities searching for expert opinion, resources and advocacy;
g. Large Community Meeting with the participation of stakeholders and authorities for presenting the results of the Needs Assessment and voting on the priority problems for the community, as well as for recruiting more volunteers to work towards finding solutions to the problems;
h. Creation of Project Teams and planning of micro-projects in accordance with the priorities chosen by the community.

3. Implementation of the micro-projects.
Micro-projects, planned and implemented with the active participation of the local people
  • 2002-2003 A project for better opportunities for professional realization of 60 Roma youth from Filipovtzi district, Sofia through vocational training;
  • 2002-2003 Project Assistance to the hygienization of Nadejda district, Sliven;
  • 2002-2003 Project for improvement of the educational conditions in the v. Seslav, Razgrad region;
  • 2003-2004 Project for improvement of the educational conditions to the children of v. Golesh, Silistra region;
  • 2003-2004 Project for enrichment of the social life in Golesh and building the capacity of the local cultural center;
  • 2003-2004 Project for improving the conditions of the children in the kindergarten of v. Mramoren, Vratza region;
2003-2004 Youth and children project for reconstruction of the playground and the park of Mramoren;
  • 2003-2004 Project for reconstruction of the public park in v. Stamboliiski, Haskovo region;
  • 2003-2004 Youth and children project for reconstruction of the playground in v. Stamboliiski;
  • 2003-2004 Project for reconstruction of Lyuliatzi street in Karnobat, Burgas region;
2004-2005 Project for establishing of a youth club and a club of the Bulgarian Red Cross -Youth in the village of Veselinovo, Yambol region;
  • 2004-2005 Project for improving the conditions for sports activities in the village of Veselinovo, Yambol region;
  • 2005 Mini-project for establishment of a Community Disaster Response unit in the village of Mramoren, Vratza region;
  • 2005 Mini-project for establishment of a community center for the parents of Roma and Turk origin under the aegis of the Red Cross in v. Seslav, Razgrad region;
  • 2005 Mini-project for creation of an advocacy group on behalf of the Roma community in the area of Lyulyatsi street, the town of Karnobat, Burgas region;
  • 2005-2006 Projects for establishment of 4 youth clubs, an initiative group of parents and a group of elderly in the village of Sindel, Varna region aiming at creating conditions for involving the youths of the village in diverse culture and sports activities.

Long-term results
  • Local initiative groups created with skills to assess needs, to plan and implement activities in favor of the community as well as to advocate towards the local authorities.
  • Loosening of the existing barriers between the different ethnic and religious groups so that they continue working together for the benefit of their community. This is most closely related to the Fundamental Red Cross Principle of Impartiality and Neutrality that do not allow segregation of people.
  • Facilitating the work of the local authorities in helping to better understand the problems of the people, uniting the efforts and building local capacity for solving the local problems.
  • Creation and building the local Red Cross organizations as a major volunteer resource in favor of the most vulnerable people.
  • Those projects would not be possible without the valued donors support, the huge amount of work and personal time dedicated by the local project teams and community volunteers, as well as by the volunteers and workers of the regional and local Red Cross organizations, the teachers and members of school boards and community centers boards (chitalishte), the municipalities and mayors with their material and financial contribution and strong support to the local initiatives.

The projects would not be possible also without the valuable support of the Regional Delegation of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent for Central Europe that gave the initial impetus and a lot of further assistance, as well as the support and exchange of experience with the PCD Coordinators in the other countries, and also without the support of experienced BRC people from different regions in Bulgaria who greatly assisted the work of their colleagues in new communities.

Applying the PCD methodology with other target groupsIn order to test the PCD methodology with different type of activities and target groups, in 2005 the Bulgarian Red Cross started two new projects.

In 2005 we began to work on a project targeting the Arab migrant community in Sofia and in particular the women. In the course of the project a womens association was founded with the name Nur, or Light of the woman. The aim of the newly founded organization is to aid the integration of the Arab women in the Bulgarian society and to facilitate a positive encounter between both cultures.

In the same year we started a project linked to trafficking prevention, which is targeting a very high risk group the children with juvenile delinquency living in state institutions. The fact that the children are incapable to create a life for themselves after they leave the institution, different from the one that had brought them in, is making them an easy target to the smugglers. The project works with the children, the teachers from the home and all institutions that have an influence on their life before, in and after the home. All of them, together assess their needs, analyze the problems and look with joint efforts for solutions that would give the children in the home in the village of Sigmen a better chance to return to the society.