Two civil society organizations were awarded micro-grants today from the Belize Association of Planners (BAP), along with Research Triangle International (RTI). These five thousand dollar grants are for 6 month projects that are designed to improve government accountability. The awardees were EmergentCorp and The Belize Assembly for Persons Living with Diverse Abilities (BAPDA). The former organization will use its grant to fund a research project while the latter will fund a project surrounding institutional strengthening and advocacy. Doctor Abigail Mckay from EmergentCorp and Roxanne Marin from BAPDA explained their respective projects in depth.
Dr.Abigail Mckay, Lead Consultant, Emergent Corp: “We are doing this because we really want to find out how we can answer the question of what factors in fact influence women to participate. We call them push-pull factors. So we are going to be looking at the last elections; village, town or municipalities and national elections, the last ones using archival data and also doing interviews with women who successfully participated or not because part of the interest is what makes them do what they do. Why did they participate? We’re hoping that the results of this research project can help to provide some evidence base, some factual information for Belize. Not just some oh we know that this is what people think, or something like that but really what comes from the people themselves who participated.”
Roxanne Marin, President, BAPDA: “This grant will allow BAPDA to execute six activities within the next six months. Those activities are centered around institutional strengthening, advocacy and governance. As it relates to institutional strengthening we will be having training primarily on small business management for our members. We are having training on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and this is to allow not only the board and persons from BAPDA to speak on the convention but to sensitize the population of Belize. BAPDA at this time, through the BAP and RTI, the US Embassy CARSI grant hope to accomplish at the end of the six months to have not only the brand and the sensitization of BAPDA and what it is that we do but to have the domestication of the United Nations on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into the laws of Belize so that this not only looks good on paper but trickles down to benefit persons with disabilities who are living in this country, to enhance their lives and to give them some time of dignity and humane treatment.”
BAP and RTI have also collaborated with the Belize Network of NGOs (BNN) to provide a twenty seven thousand dollar fund to strengthen the role of civil society in governance accountability. The NGO Senator, Osmany Salas, explained more on how this goal will be achieved.
Osmany Salas, NGO Senator: “This initiative will help us to understand what the challenges are, what are the challenges faced in the NGO community, the registered NGOs that have not been in good standing; what are the problems and how can we help. We know that there are at least one hundred fifty registered NGOs growing by the month. And even though at the end of last year we had fifty-nine NGOs in good standing, about a dozen of those were newly registered NGOs. So our NGOs that have been around for a while are facing challenges and it will take resources and time to reach out not only to the registered NGOs but the larger civil society to understand what the situation is. So as part of our strategic direction, one of our major goals is to be the unified voice of the NGOs and an objective within that is for all registered NGOs to be in compliance with the NGO act. The project which will be supported via the CARSI funding initiative seeks to do a number of specific things. One is to lead the facilitation of a national forum for NGOs including the ones that are not registered and identified in consultation with BAP (Belize Association of Planners) to discuss and build consensus; to see how we can increase the number of registered NGOs in good standing. We also want to put together a comprehensive database of NGOs and CSOs: good standing, registered, not registered to have a good consensus of the landscape and use that platform to encourage the registration of civil society organizations. Finally to use our platform; the Belize Network of NGOs platform for hosting and managing a directory of registered NGOs and their contact information; something that we will be building on as we go along.”
The funds for the micro-grants and the collaboration with BNN are made possible through the CARSI GRANT project funded by the United States Embassy. The grant is titled, “Improving the Data Ecosystem for Governance Decision Making in Belize.”