Memorandum by the Field Studies Council
1.1 The FSC has come into contact with TACIS
(a) the Bisztro Fund in Russia where we have
applied directly with our Russian partners on two occasions;
(b) as a member of a consortium bidding for
Black Sea projects on two occasions.
None of these bids have been successful.
1.2 My comments below refer to the first set
of experiences and are largely a response to issues numbers 1,
3, 6, 9 and 10 in the Committee's invitation for evidence.
1.3 The FSC is working on projects in the region
funded by other agencies:
(a) RussiaSt Petersburgon a
project funded jointly by The British Council and the Environmental
Know How Fund.
(b) RussiaMoscowon a project
funded by Charities Aid Foundation.
(c) UkraineDonetskon a project
funded by the Environmental Know How Fund and The World Bank.
2. ISSUE 1
2.1 It is undoubtedly true that environmental
problems are widespread in the NISit has some of the dirtiest
hot spots of pollution in the world. However, it is also true
that the NIS has some of the cleanest environments in the world.
The situation is not all bad. In fact the indicators are that
the situation is getting betterthough not because of clean
up so muchas because the industries are closing down.
2.2 The critical challenges for the NIS are
(a) clean up the mess of the Soviet periodespecially
to ensure that the heavy industries and farming do not continue
to pollute the environment. It is these environmental problems
which most NGOs focus on;
(b) ensure that the road to capitalism it
is following does not produce the same environmental problems
in the NIS that we have in the west. Some of these are becoming
more apparent day by daytraffic is onelitter and
packaging disposal is anotherincreasing use of recreational
areas is a third. It is these environmental problems that are
possibly a greater threat to the environment in the long term;
(c) ensure that the west does not export
environmental problems to the NIS. i.e.: the export of smoking
habits (a consumerist philosophy) and other specific products
are declining in popularity in the west, while battery chicken
farming in the Ukraine is expanding in a big way.
3. ISSUE 3
3.1 The impression received by NGOs such as
the FSC and its partners in the Ukraine and Russia, is that there
could be more co-ordination between the programmes of the different
donor agencies. Our experience of World Bank and EKHF co-operation
was not particularly smooththe different donor agencies
have different regulations for the presentation of project proposalsdifferent
deadlines and different systems which means that trying to work
with two agencies doubles a lot of the project preparation work
3.2 In the area of NGO support there could be
much more co-operation to try and ensure that funding was focused.
One area that comes to mind is in NGO training where different
programmes from the US and Europe could work together much more
4. ISSUE 6
4.1 This is the crux of the problem with the
TACIS programme for NGOsit is far too complex and bureaucratic,
showing a lack of understanding of how NGOs work in the region.
It is hardly a people to people programme.
4.2 Within the Bisztro environmental programme
we were also concerned with the apparent lack of awareness of
the local real situation by the programme officers. For example,
the Bistro officer in Moscow who rejected a project proposal for
St Petersburg to train teachers and others in environmental education
gave as the reasons the fact that the fund had already done some
environmental education work in the city (two years ago they ran
a workshop for journalists) and that environmental education was
of a high standard in Russia (when it clearly isn't).
4.3 The bureaucracy of the TACIS programmes
is in marked contrast to the UK programmes I have experience ofincluding
Charity Know How, Charities Aid Foundation, The British Council
and Environmental Know How Fund. These are much more flexible
and much more customer focused (if that is the right phrase).
4.4 The FSC realises the importance of accountability
for funding providedand for making sure that the best projects
are supported, but would also comment that the systems in place
do not necessarily guarantee either of these things.
4.5 Two critical weaknesses of TACIS as perceived
by NGOs are the apparent difficulty of keeping to timescalesthis
makes project planning a huge problem. The second is the slowness
of payment. This has nearly caused the collapse of NGOs in the
UK waiting for moneyand also causes big problems in the
5. ISSUE 9
5.1 The use of consultants, ownership and sustainability
are real issues which affect many projects. Many NGO projects
focus on training and here the critical issues focus on who is
being trained? how do we know that the training is really what
is required? is it the right approach to training? how is the
training being followed up and how do we know it is being implemented?
Many projects do not really address these issues effectively and
make the assumption that training itself produces change.
6. ISSUE 10
6.1 NGOs are increasing in strength in the region
though they are still small and have a limited impact. The priority
given by the general public to the environment is lowlower
than five years ago, as people at the bottom end of the scale
focus on survival and those at the top with money flaunt their
wealth by demonstrating a lack of concern for almost everything
except making more money.
6.2 The FSC is involved in a project in Donetsk,
however, which is both strengthening the local Ministry of Environmental
Protection and also NGOs. The project focused on the development
of the capacity of these two groups to involve the general public
in environmental issues and also in the development of public
awareness campaigns. We believe that this project has been highly
successful, especially in a Ukrainian context and through the
starting of a new NGO called GreenCity has built in some sustainability.
The project developed a Green Yards community project and also
a Clean Air campaign. Through the locally developed training manuals
we are continuing with a second year of the project to train further
MEPs and NGOs in Ukraine.
The model for the project has been successful
in improving local environments, through community groups being
convinced through NGO support, that they can improve their own
environmentthey can do something. The lack of self belief
that anything will change is one of the strongest barriers to
change in the Ukraine.
6.3 NGOs need more training, however, if they
are to be successfuland they need more training of the
right kind and approach. The main areas of need are inmanagementworking
with people effectivelydeveloping awarenessfund
raisingproject developmentinvolving people and developing
The training given at the moment is very workshop
based and does not always meet people's needs. What is needed
is a much more flexible and customer focused approach to training
and development. The FSC has made a proposal with The British
Council to use BC resource Centres in the Ukraine as Learning
Centres which could provide interactive training using computer
based resources, internet, WWW, text based materials as well as
local coaching support to work with individuals when they need
6.4 Many NGOs rely on the enthusiasm of one
or two activiststhe strength of the new GreenCity NGO is
that it was started by ordinary people who had been involved in
Phase I of the EKHF project.
The activists are also often perceived as being
non conformist members of society and this sometimes makes it
difficult to attract new "ordinary" people to the NGOor
successfully influence decision makers. Direct protest is often
the first resort rather than planned advocacy as such skills are
NGOs also talk a lot about democracybut
in themselves are very undemocratic organisationsclaiming
to speak on behalf of people but without a mandate to do so. NGOs
sometimes have a very small membership base.
6.5 The EKHF project in Donetsk is a good example
of capacity building for NGOs and GOs working in partnership and
the FSC would welcome the opportunity to talk more with members
of the Committee about the project as a model and about the proposed
Learning Centres project with the British Council.