Finland allocates EUR 18 million to support strengthening civil societies in developing countries

Following the decision of Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has granted EUR 18 million to development cooperation projects led by civil society organisations and municipalities. In this year’s call for proposals, project support will be granted to 36 organisations.

The project support granted by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs will be used to strengthen civil society and local administration in developing countries. Support is granted to projects planned by organisations and municipal operators in cooperation with local partners.

The amount of support granted this year increased by EUR 2.4 million from the previous call for proposals,  totalling EUR 18 million. Support will be granted to 36 organisations for 50 projects. The projects will be carried out in 2019–2022. The majority of projects will receive support over a four-year period. Twenty-eight of the projects are new initiatives, while 22 are continuation projects.

“Civil society plays an important role in the realisation of democracy and freedom of expression. Unfortunately, the activities of civil society are currently being repressed in many countries. For this reason, support through Finnish organisations for our partners operating in developing countries is now particularly important,” says Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen.

The majority of support was channelled to Africa, with 63 per cent going to the least developed countries. The largest amount of support in euros was granted to projects being implemented in Somalia, Ethiopia, Gambia and Lebanon. Of the priority areas in the government’s development policy report, the most support was granted to projects aiming to promote the rights and position of women and girls, as well as those supporting democracy and better functioning societies.

In the call for proposals, which ended in mid-May, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs received 129 applications from 81 organisations and two municipalities. The funds sought by applicants totalled around EUR 51 million.

Project support was granted in line with the government’s development policy report and the Guidelines for Civil Society in Development Policy. Wide-ranging cooperation between civil society operators in Finland and developing countries enables us to support the structures of civil society, create possibilities to exert influence, support citizen participation and advance the realisation of human rights. A call for proposals for project support is launched every second year.

Project support makes up around ten per cent of the annual budget of the Unit for Civil Society. The majority of the civil society funds controlled by the unit are granted in the form of programme support, which makes up 80 per cent of the unit’s discretionary government transfers. In February of this year, 22 CSOs were granted four-year programme support totalling EUR 206.8 million. The Civil Society Unit is currently processing submissions to the call for proposals for communications and global education support, which ended on 10 December 2018.

List of projects granted support in the 2018 call for proposals (pdf, in Finnish) (Opens New Window)

Inquiries: Tiina Kajakoski, Deputy Director of Unit, Unit for Civil Society, Department for Development Policy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 295 351 570 

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