Open Society Foundations Support $0.7 million regional project to confront the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups in Western Balkans

Open Society Foundations is supporting $0.7 million responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 to support vulnerable groups as low-wage, informal and gig workers in Western Balkans. The project is part of a $133.7 million investment from Open Society Foundations to combat the ravages of COVID-19 around the globe, with a focus on providing immediate relief for vulnerable communities.

The regional project is implemented by the Open Society Foundation Albania (OSFA), Open Society Fund Bosnia & Herzegovina (OSFBiH), Kosovo Foundation for Open Society (KFOS), Foundation Open Society-Macedonia (FOSM), Open Society Foundation Serbia (OSFS) with the majority of the support will consist in direct financial support to low-wage, informal and gig workers, giving priority to women and other vulnerable groups.

The Western Balkans countries are facing a health unlike crisis with the radical restrictive measures affecting all aspects of life, including the social and economic situation of the entire communities, especially the most vulnerable ones. The governments are focused in the management of the health emergency thus placing less attention to the post Covid19 immediate measures to support the socio-economic recovery of the for the most vulnerable segments of the society.

The project will offer direct financial support in order to mitigate the socio-economic consequences from the influence of COVID-19 in the region for the most vulnerable groups. The project in partnership with the local actors will promote longer term measures to mitigate the socioeconomic impact of the coronavirus crisis and test and build new models and initiatives for development in the region and specifically for employment of vulnerable groups.

The project will help to build a regional cooperation platform of shared understanding among affected small business, self-employed and informal workers on the government role in managing the economic crisis. The platform will allow affected groups to come up with solid ideas for effective government measures to respond to the crisis and organize to push the government to mobilize effectively public funds and international support in line with the needs on the ground.

Furthermore, in order to energize the advocacy, grants will be supported to relevant organizations to pilot proposed recovery schemes at a small scale by showing to the governments that the proposed schemes are feasible and effective. We expect that the governments react and approve supporting measures which respond to the immediate post Covid19 needs of the targeted categories thus helping their economic recovery.

The Foundations’ emergency response package is also investing globally in supporting low-wage workers and other vulnerable communities; protecting refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers; ensuring that treatments and vaccines for the pandemic are accessible to all.

“This emergency funding is a first step,” said Open Society Foundations President Mr. Patrick Gaspard during the presentation of the initiative. “It is part of what will be a broad and ongoing effort by the Foundations in the months ahead to respond to the economic, social, and political impact of the pandemic.”