Greece - How Are Women's NGO's Coping with the Greek Recession?
CONCORD is the European Confederation of Relief & Development NGOs.
28 July 2014 –
While it’s not just a question of funding, the figures of Greek development budgets have been in constant decline for years, falling by 17% in 2012 and by a further 7.7% in 2013 as a result of austerity measures according to the OECD. A similar situation can be seen in other mediterranean countries like Spain.
For Marina Sarli, President of FAIRTRADE Hellas, “the financial crisis offered decision makers an alibi to severely cut funding for development.”
“It’s a situation that keeps getting worse, CSOs do not receive any public support anymore, while they have not received the already spent and budgeted money from previous projects. Moreover, they have been attacked by media campaigns that claim financing CSOs is a mismanagement of public money, using generalizing examples that gives a false image of the sector.”
A Change of Focus in Order to Survive - Greek Centric vs. Overseas
Poverty and inequality have risen sharply in
They are no longer “development issues” that only affect people abroad. This has seen many organisations that previously focused mainly on overseas projects play a new role intackling poverty at home, at the expense of previous programmes.
“We are very sad to notice that the last 5-6 years the Greek CSOs withdrew almost the majority of their activities from the countries in need of international assistance”, says Fotis Vlachos, Policy & Advocacy Officer of the Hellenic Platform for Development.
During last decade, especially after 2001, a large
number of Greek NGOs were operating in projects worldwide. This included a
presence in the Balkans, Central Asia, Africa and the
“The excuse of corruption and austerity measures should not justify such a remarkable decrease of Greek NGOs presence worldwide”, emphasizes Mr. Vlachos.
Today, the focus has increasingly shifted to local
level. Migration issues, homeless people and poverty eradication within the
Greek society became the main operational priorities of the NGO sector in
For Fotis Vlachos, the negative environment during the
country’s worst financial crisis does not permit new initiatives, ideas and new
established structures to grow in such a way that will contribute to the overall
efforts for a strong and capable CSOs sector in
Greek Volunteers (GV), who have carried out projects
Greek Medicine de Monde, Handicap Care Hellas, One Earth and ANCE are among the CSOs that have withdrawn the majority of their activities.
Difficulties in Fundraising
Fundraising has tumbled.
“The capacity of individuals to keep supporting NGOs
has been reduced substantially, while their priorities have shifted caring and
supporting more organizations which work on service delivery within
“Public and corporate funds, although extremely limited already in the sector, they have practically disappeared as ODA is non-existent and corporate social responsibility has shrunk and re-directed to gifts in kind or funds for 'poverty' relief in Greece”, he adds.
Good News: ActionAid
ActionAid is probably the most resilient development
According to Mr. Kouvaras, this success is linked to
the fact that ActionAid has already built a very strong brand in
A driver of success in 2013 for ActionAid has been the
filming and screening of a TV documentary in
Furthermore, in order to become more relevant to the
national context, ActionAid Hellas has just initiated a new program to promote
micro-finance for marginalized populations within
A Glance at the Future –
The Hellenic Platform of Development, which currently represents 12 different NGOs, has two main goals:
1. To reinforce the platform enriching it with new
member and with a solid structure so that at the end we will be able to have a
wider representative body of CSOs sector in
2. To build capacity of CSOs on transparency and accountability set as a national priority for the sector.
“The extreme positive rising grass root movement and the already established CSOs should overcome the separation that sees the first as extra-systemic and the second as ‘’intra-systemic’’ and cooperate widely to change the system. Each one respecting the peculiarity and the work of the others”, wishes Marina Sarli.
According to Fotis Vlachos, through very hard work