Comparative Analysis of the Role of Civil Society in Providing Social Welfare…

Comparative Analysis of the Role of Civil Society in Providing Social Welfare


One of the first activities in the project was to develop a baseline study which will present legal and institutional framework for the provision of social welfare services by civil society organizations and their role in providing these services in the region of the Western Balkans. The study is based on desk-analysis and series of semi-structured interviews with the stakeholders from CSOs and public institutions from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia.


In Federation of BiH social protection is the primarily in jurisdiction of the specific entities and cantons. A whole range of entity and cantonal laws are regulating this area. Also, the Brcko District has its own jurisdiction, but not the public institutions of social protection.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina there are 117 public social work centers which employ 1087 workers..

There are no clear data on the number of CSOs in B&H working in the field of social service delivery. Nevertheless, it is estimated that 1/3 of 4629 active CSO in B&H are working in the field of social service delivery. Out of total funds reallocated from the government to CSO in B&H, CSOs engaged in social protection field received only 9% of the funds, which makes about 4 millions Euros. In addition, international donors invested 2.9 millions Euros in CSOs providing social services. Official data on how much the public institution are investing in the sector of social policy, apart from donations, is not clear or does not exists.

Republika Srpska

According to the regulations of Republika Srpska, work in the area of social pro­tection may also be carried out by NGOs. Rights implemented by the provision of services to beneficiaries can also be exercised in partnership between the public, private and nongovernmental sectors. There are 45 CSW, 20 social work services and 9 institutions in Republika Srpska. Unfortunately, there are only isolated examples of CSOs delivering social services in Republika Srpska.


New Social Welfare Act of 2014 in Croatia stipulates that NGOs may provide services if they have a license for that, introducing the system of service ordering and service provider licensing.

Somewhere between 20 and 30 million EUR is allocated annually for social services in Croatia. One third of these funds are allocated by cities and counties, approximately 36% by the ministries and the Government, and the remaining part is from international donors.

Local self-governments play an important role in financing, planning and implementing social welfare services. The community social welfare services are mainly funded through short-lived projects. Those services are provided by NGOs, local and regional self-governments, homes and Red Cross braches. The Croatian NGO sector is dominated by small-sized organizations with few employees and budget below EUR 13,000.


The Constitution of Kosovo concentrates more on human rights and freedoms, then on issues of social justice and a state of welfare. Much more attention is devoted to gender equality and protection from discrimination, but issues of social justice and the welfare state.

Thus, the system of Kosovo legitimizes the typical liberal values, unlike the rest of the region, which still cherishes the tradition of European social democracy. The Line ministry has a underdeveloped capacity to administer the social welfare.

Process of decentralization has given municipalities great authorizations in the healthcare and social welfare areas. As a rule, Issues relating to health care generally have precedence over social welfare.

Municipalities can contract the provision of social welfare services and family protection services to NGOs. The NGO sector develops under the influence of donors. There is ample data indicating that it is not well-rooted in civil society. 80% of funds for civil society come from international sources, and about 8% from budget funds. As in other countries, dependence on donors has led to the fact that NGOs, in their work, reflect donor interests rather than the interests of the citizens and communities they are supposed to represent

NGOs complain of the weak technical capacity of public services, which is an obstacle to cooperation. There are no efficient mechanisms of cooperation between public and non-governmental sectors.

The role of NGOs dealing with victims of domestic violence and people with disabilities is significant. The latter are less engaged in providing services, compared to organization of sporting and cultural events and advocacy work. However, there is no systematic data on local social welfare services, both in the state and in the NGO sector.


Montenegrin Law on Social Welfare introduced a licensing system of service providers (organizations and individuals, i.e. professionals). According to this system, all licensed organizations can deliver social services in the local communities. Nevertheless, licensing system is not functional yet.

Non-governmental organizations are financed from the central lottery fund and from the local government. Total allocations for NGOs in the 2011th amounted to about 1.5 million, which is three times less than in 2010.

In Montenegro, there are 275 local social welfare services. The largest number of identified local social welfare services addresses children, the elderly, children and persons with disabilities. The majority of non-governmental organizations are dealing with children, persons with disabilities, persons with development disabilities, victims of violence, young people, etc. The focus of the public sector is on children, the elderly and children with disabilities. The main difference is the openness of the NGO sector to “non-traditional” user groups.

Almost 80% of all local social welfare services in Montenegro are provided by NGOs.


Social services are divided into two groups under the Law on Social Services: (1) assessment and planning, and (2) service of direct social work that originate from the assessment of beneficiaries needs – daily services in the community (daily care, help in the house, etc.). services of the support for independent living (for example, supported housing, personal assistance, training for independent life, etc.), counseling-therapeutic and social-educational services (support for families in crisis, counseling, family therapy, mediation, SOS hotlines, etc.) and services of accommodation.

The social protection system consists of centers for social work, institutions for the accommodation of beneficiaries and other facilities (shelters, intake centers etc.) as well as NGOs that deal with the provision of services. Centers for social work which are funded by central and local budgets have the most important role in the social welfare system.

Centers for social work are overburdened with administrative work and have less time to work with beneficiaries and the community. At the same time CSW is de facto an institution that deals with coordinating and planning protection for municipalities.

Serbia has updated information on the level of development of services that demonstrate that local services are relatively developed, but there are significant regional disparities.

Home help for the elderly is the most common services. It was followed by daycare centers for children and youth with disabilities. Each municipality has a program of one-off financial assistance. Developed municipalities have developed social services.

NGO sector in Serbia is dominated by small organizations relaying on volunteer work.

NGOs do not have adequate professional capacities in the social welfare area yet. They often relay on professionals from centers or institutes for the accommodation of beneficiaries for the demanding professional tasks.

In the last couple of years, the share of foreign financing is growing.

29 % of all local social services are provided by NGOs.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply