Increased citizen participation in local decision-making processes is vital to the development of Armenia’s rural communities. Community-based organizations (CBOs), which are founded by community members for the purpose of solving local problems, seek to mobilize citizens in the implementation of effective community development initiatives. Though a large number of CBOs in Armenia have the potential to contribute to the resolution of community problems, these CBOs sometimes lack the capacity to engage citizens in the solution of local problems.
In May 2006, Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) launched the Resource Center for Community Development (RCCD) Program to improve the capacities of local community-based organizations to play an active role in rural development activities. In order to achieve this goal, EPF is providing support for the establishment of nine Resource Centers by strengthening the capacities of selected partner organizations to support the work of CBOs and other community groups in development processes and by creating a sustainable and functional network of Resource Centers in Armenia.
Each Resource Center was established in partnership with an NGO already operating in Armenia’s regions. Partner organizations were selected in July 2006 based upon their ability to function as a Resource Center, their commitment to providing services to CBOs, and their willingness to operate as part of a network of Resource Centers. Eurasia Partnership Foundation is providing training and support to each partner organization to develop the Center’s capacity to provide consulting and other needed services to local CBOs in areas including program development, fundraising, monitoring and evaluation, community mobilization, and participatory appraisal. Each RCCD also provides citizens with access to electronic resources including Internet, email and an electronic library. While these services will initially be provided free of charge, in the future RCCDs may begin providing these same services to local businesses, local government bodies or donor organizations on a fee-for-service basis. Currently, the Resource Centers provide an average of 1,500 services each month to individuals and local organizations.
In order to improve the sustainability of these Resource Centers, EPF has provided them with training in participatory appraisal and evaluation, marketing, and income generation.
Eurasia Partnership Foundation will promote the long-term sustainability of the Resource Centers by creating a nationwide network that will facilitate cooperation and the exchange of information and experiences between centers. Resource Centers operating in other communities that are not part of the RCCD Program will also be invited to join the network. In the coming years, Eurasia Partnership Foundation will continue to develop links between the Resource Centers and other community stakeholders by involving the network in the implementation of EPF’s programming in the areas of youth development, labor migration, and anticorruption.