USAID: public image of Czech NGO sector deteriorating
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has ranked the Czech Republic third among post-communist nations in the sustainability of the civil society sector for 2017, the Czech News Agency reported on Saturday.
The USAID annual report compares the situation in 24 former Eastern bloc countries, focusing on the legal environment, financial background of the NGOs, their organisation, implementation of interests, provision of services, infrastructure and public image.
It suggests that the overall sustainability of Czech NGO sector remained unchanged. However, the sector’s public image deteriorated as the current government portrayed it as unreliable and incompetent, which resulted in growing public distrust in NGOs.
The report also says that governments expressing hostility to established democratic norms, practices, and institutions are increasingly common in Central and Eastern European countries.
The centrist Ano party and its junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats, have reached a framework agreement on increasing public sector salaries. While the specifics have not yet been made public, the coalition has agreed on a differentiated range of salary increases of about 8 per cent on average, with workers who now earn the least set to get the biggest raises.
State support for NGOs has been lowered by 586 million crowns as opposed to
the government’s original plan, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told
journalists on Wednesday. There should be less money for NGOs linked to the
education sector but more for those active in the field of social services.
Overall state support for NGOs should rise year-on-year by approximately 800 million. The government is also planning lay-offs in state administration. Over 1,300 positions will be scrapped, many of which have been unfilled for some time.
Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who was sentenced to twenty years in jail in a political trial after protesting against Russia’s annexation of Crimea, has been on a hunger strike in a Russian prison for over three months now. Amidst growing international concern for his health, the Czech NGO People in Need has launched a campaign calling for his release. I asked Zuzana Gruberová of People in Need to tell me more.
Czech hydrogeologist Jiří Šíma is a leading expert in the field of water management. Since the mid-1980s, he has been involved in various water management and environmental projects in Africa, mainly in Ethiopia. He created a series of hydrogeological maps documenting the country’s water resources and has been cooperating on various projects with the Czech Development Agency and the NGO People in Need.
There are lots of countries in the world that have been hesitant about letting refugees through their borders. The recently re-elected Czech president even ran his campaign partly on a non-immigrant agenda. Nevertheless, Prague is a hub in Europe for those looking for a better life including some refugees from countries suffering from war and poverty.
The NGO People in Need is active in more than 30 countries the world over, giving immediate aid in humanitarian crises, helping communities threatened by malnutrition, helping the poor to find a livelihood, fighting violence against women and helping give children an education. One of its successful fundraising projects is Give a Real Gift which motivates thousands of people to think of those less fortunate not only during the Christmas season. I spoke with Jan Svitalek of People in Need and began by asking him to explain the NGO’s Real Gift
The Czech NGO Brontosauri v Himalájích has been helping the village of Mulbekh, in Little Tibet, for ten years now. Attention is focused around the local primary school which has grown from strength to strength. Czech volunteers are engaged in a wide variety of activities, the latest project being to teach the children of Mulbekh to play hockey. I spoke to Jiří Sázel from the NGO about how he has helped the children of Mulbekh and what he has gained in return.
It is now twenty-five years since the founding of the Czech charity People in Need, or Člověk v tísni, which operates in several dozen countries around the world providing humanitarian relief, supporting development projects, and educational and human rights programs. In a special program marking the anniversary I am joined in the studio by Jan Mrkvička, who is the head of the NGO’s development and humanitarian relief section.
Debt collecting bailiffs are a factor in the lives of millions of Czechs. Many of them are in fact subject to multiple collection proceedings for fairly minor sums with the costly bureaucracy involved digging them deeper into the mire of debt. A last call has now gone out to politicians from two of the country’s most significant non-profit organisations to reform the current system.