М. Т. Gologanov 54 1/7, 1000 Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia

Capacity Building Training for Civil Society Organizations and Faith Based Organization

The first capacity building training for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Faith Based Organization (FBOs) from the Polog Planning Region was organized by Center for Common Ground (CCG) as part of the regional project: “Communities First: Creation of a civil society hub to prevent and counter violent extremism” (the Hub) at Hotel Radika – Mavrovo from 03rd to 05th July 2019.

The capacity building training for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Faith Based Organization (FBOs) is one of seven trainings planned to be held in the Republic of North Macedonia. It was officially opened by Mr. Pajtim Saiti who welcomed the participants, gave a short introduction to the agenda and introduced the trainers: Ms.Vilma Venkovska Milcev and Ms. Rudina Pasholli.

Mr. Xheladin Ajvazi the Deputy National coordinator for countering violent extremism and countering terrorism (NCCVECT), initially thanked the Center for Common Ground for their support and contribution in the implementation of the National Strategy on P/CVE approved by the Government on march 2018. He also statedthis is not the only project on which we are cooperating with CCG, we are working also on implementation of the National Strategy at local level through creation of the Community Action Teams (CAT) in three pilot municipalities, he also stated that gathering representatives of CSOs in such trainings has a high importance to build the capacities of CSOs who will work and cooperate with each other.     

Participants from more than ten organizations who work in Polog Region introduced themselves and their work, the best practices and experiences they have, but also expressed their will to learn more regarding P/CVE theory and practice. 

Mr. Pajtim Saiti had a presentation about theproject “Communities First: Creation of a civil society hub to prevent and counter violent extremism”. Among other notes he informed the participants that this is a three-year project and aims to empower civil society organizations (CSOs) in the Western Balkans (WB), including women, youth, and faith-based organizations, to become more effective and accountable actors and to improve their capacity to implement projects and dialogue with national and local governments around preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE), influencing policy and decision-making processes as it relates to P/CVE in the region. The Hub will provide a platform for increased collaboration and coordination among the growing number of grassroots, other relevant CSOs and other community actors engaged in P/CVE in the region. Through this project intervention a critical gap will be filled to promote a “whole of society” approach to P/CVE in a region where addressing the threat of violent extremism has recently become a high priority for governments: namely the lack of a dynamic network of CSOs working to prevent and counter violent extremism at the local and regional level and to partner with governments in the design and implementation of effective P/CVE policies, plans, and programs. 

Mr. Saiti also informed the participants that we are implementing this project as part of the regional consortium made of six CSOs from the Western Balkans Forum MNE (Montenegro – lead partner) in partnership with Hope and Homes for Children (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Partners Kosova – Center for Conflict Management (Kosovo), Centre for Common Ground (Macedonia), Center for Legal Civic Initiatives (Albania), and Cultural Center DamaD (Serbia) and is financially supported by the European Union. 

The first session of this training covers an introduction to VE, a presentation on “What is Violent Extremism? Concepts and challenges” followed by a group discussion on P/CVE globally and nationally where participants shared their views and general understanding about violent extremism.  

During the second day, participants heard about “Models of Violent Extremism”; “Themes and Principles of CVE programing, including good practices in addressing push and pull factors” in two separate sessions, using examples of case studies and working in group exercises in order to better understand the concepts. Followed by a group discussion about “P/CVE in the Polog Region and best practices” which was fruitful and useful. 

The third and last day of the training was mainly focused on Project Cycle, Design “Needs and problems, theory of change, project activities, monitoring & evaluation, advocacy & networking”, after hearing a presentation on this topic, participants were spread in groups and had a task to write a concept idea for a project proposal which resulted to be very useful for them. Groups presented their concept ideas and were asked questions, given suggestions from the rest of the group. 

Through the exercise the trainees could conclude that mainly group project proposals (concept ideas) were well structured and had a clear goal. However, the trainers shared their advices and comments for a better project proposal. 

The trainers explained the possibility of applying for a small grants scheme on P/CVE projects, during the upcoming period.