„ACTIVE CITIZENS IN VILLAGES" is a new project, prepared and implemented by DEVETAKI PLATEAU ASSOCIATION in partnership with ZELENIGRAD Association and FRILUFTRADENES LANDSFORBUND from Norway.
Our both associations DEVETAKI PLATEAU and ZELENIGRAD believe that people in the villages are also active citizens. Despite they live far from municipal centers, with difficult access to health care, education and social services, Bulgarian villages are vivid and they keep rich cultural and social lifa and human potential. Village people have ideas how to improve their life, often they know more about traditions, nature and everyday life in the villages than experts and state servants. They can share a lot if someone finds the right way to involve them. People need information how to share their opinion but also the authorities have to be ready to accept and communicate. Focused efforts and community thinking are needed to overcome fake information, the lack of accurate and up-to-date news and events, the alienation, rumors and mistrust generated by them. The Devetaki Plateau Association undertakes this difficult task in the framework of the project "Active Citizens in Villages", which will be implemented in partnership with 2 organizations - the Zelenigrad Association - Osmar village, Veliki Preslav municipality, and the Norwegian organization Friluftsrodenes Landsferbund, with extensive experience in the preparation and implementation of local and national community development and volunteer projects. The aim of the project is to raise the awareness and activity of the local communities in 13 villages: Agatovo, Brestovo, Gorsko Slivovo, Devetaki, Kramolin, Krushuna, Kakrina, Karpachevo and Tepava, Osmar, Khan Krum, Trinity and Dragoevo. They are located in 4 Bulgarian municipalities - Letnitsa, Lovech, Sevlievo and Veliki Preslav and the results will contribute to improving the mechanisms for civic participation in all settlements in these municipalities.
Project activities include:
• Training of 12 trainers, representatives of the local communities, who, after completing the training, will carry out trainings in the villages. The training, conducted by the Norwegian partners, will cover interesting and current topics like: Democratic civil rights and opportunities for participation; Working mechanisms for civic participation in Bulgaria and Norway; Improvement of interaction between local authorities and people from small settlements.
• Organizing an information campaign to increase civil participation and motivation of village people in public life, to provide sufficient information about the decisions of the Municipal Councils. We will build info points in each village and prepare up-to-date information and quarterly newsletters. We are also planning discussions with popular local or national leaders to give more confidence to the people in the villages and to stimulate their civic activity.
• Organizing and conducting public discussions in the villages on topics related to the development of municipalities. The ideas of local communities will be presented to the local authorities to include in the development plans, and measures, which do not require big financial resources, will be implemented soon.
• Recommendations addressed to local and national institutions will be developed on the basis of the lessons learned and applied approaches for interaction. The aim is to motivate local communities to participate in public discussions and consultations, and to encourage municipalities to improve their involvement mechanisms.
• A study of good practices and working models how local communities and volunteers are engaged to participate in local development projects in Norway. We will try to adapt and apply some of them in Bulgaria. A platform will be set up to announce initiatives and causes in the villages in the two regions and two volunteer recruitment campaigns will be launched - in the Devetashko Plateau and in the Zelenigrad area. These volunteers, together with the local communities and the four municipalities, will implement some of the ideas put forward during the public hearings.
We expect these several steps will lead to increased civil participation in our villages and improved interaction with municipalities. When your voice is heard, you are more likely to get involved in the realization of an idea. This leads to more community thinking and action and greater confidence in government. All project activities are open to participation by members of both associations DEVETAKI PLATEAU and ZELENIGRAD, as well as by all residents of the villages and the four municipalities who want to know more and become more involved in the life of their regions.
The project is implemented with a financial support provided by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway under the EEA Financial Mechanism - www.activecitizensfund.bg.
The partners will also provide their own financial and non-financial contributions to the project. The project`s duration is 32 months, it starts in November 2019 and the end is planned for June 2022.