TACSO by VESTA: Contribution to Sustainability of CSO Networks’ Impact in BiH

A Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Programme for Effective Networking and Advocacy was designed by the TACSO Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Office as a response to the multiple challenges in networks’ work as identified during the implementation of TACSO 2. The programme began in February 2017 and was implemented in partnership with the Resource Centre in BiH, TACSO by VESTA.

Five (5) networks from BiH were selected (following an open call in November 2016) to participate in this Programme: Rural development Network in Bosnia and Herzegovina; Network for economic development of Bosnia and Herzegovina – LEDnet; SECO group for Environment, Energy and Transport in BH; Network for Building Peace; and AgroMAP Network.

The Programme’s design and organisation was based on a combination of two components of the TACSO 2 project: Organisational Development and Institutional Development. In the first component, Organisational Development, 15 representatives coming from the individual organisations or members of the selected networks participated in three training modules: Leadership and Network Management; Collective Impact Assessment; and Strategic Dialogue. During the second component, Institutional Development, participants, having completed the initial modules, conducted network planning during two-day sessions of strategic positioning for issues of strategic importance for their individual networks with the support of TACSO by VESTA.

Some of the topics covered during the strategic positioning sessions for the individual networks included total quality management (TQM); theory of change; stakeholders’ analysis; problem analysis; setting short-term goals and recognizing the long-term impact on final beneficiaries; setting up indicators of changes and monitoring; as well as action planning and network structure that supports problem solving.

A major novelty that the programme brought up was the necessity to be focused on the final beneficiaries and their needs. Namely, participants were encouraged to use and apply the European Foundation Quality Management - Excellence Model (EFQM) as a tool in the process of developing their network. The EFQM Model is used in order to have a complete view of the organisational performance and to understand the relations of cause and effect, i.e. what organisations or networks are doing and the results they produce.

Because of the programme, 77 civil society activists contributed to their network’s strategic positioning, out of which 68 were representatives of CSOs; six were representatives from the business sector and three were representatives of educational institutions. Based on the EFQM Model, this variety among participants also ensured that different voices and perspectives, which are valuable for the further development of CSO networks, were shared.

The EFQM Model was also well-accepted by the participants as it should lead to a new level of networking. One of the remaining challenges of the networks’ development is still related to the level of individual CSO involvement in their network’s activities. Some of the networks established thematic and specific working groups as a new structure which supports the existing one (i.e. steering board or executive board in the network) so that member organisations can join the groups and contribute to the network’s action according to its own capacities. This should help lead to increased participation in the networks and a qualitative base for its sustainable development that is supported by every member.

In the forthcoming period, all five selected networks managed to select one priority issue to tackle as was identified during the strategic positioning workings. These include: leadership of the networks; effective structure that will follow the action of the network as a change agent; dilemma of pros and cons for the registration of the network; on behalf of whom is the network advocating and who are their constituencies; and planning for and measuring the long-term impact of the network.

Short-term results from the networks can be expected by October 2017, while the long-term, measurable impact is expected by the end of 2020, which corresponds to the network’s long-term advocacy plan. The success and recognized contribution of these networks to visible changes in society should contribute to the enabling environment for civil society development in BiH on a long-term basis.

Other networks in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region can also receive technical assistance support by contacting TACSO by VESTA or by using the ‘’Manual for CSO networks’’, developed as a result of this programme. The Manual will be available at the end of July 2017.