Lithuania without social exclusion and poverty (LabAS)
In 2007, the Civil Society Institute together with partners – Lithuanian radio and television, daily newspaper “Lithuanian news”, internet portals Bernardinai.lt and Delfi.lt and Non-Governmental Organizations’ Information and Support Centre – implemented a project “Lithuania without social exclusion and poverty” (LabAS) that was being financed by the European Commission.
<>The objectives of the project were to raise public awareness on the manifestations of poverty and action plans of the government, to increase social consciousness and sensitivity among the public and to implement the practice of citizens’ participation in local self-governance and national policies.
The project was relevant at the time: although the economy and GDP was growing, relative poverty level was staying the same. According to the Statistics department data, in 2005, the poverty level was 18%: approximately 615 000 of Lithuanians were living in poverty.
Although the Lithuanian Government since 2000 was preparing strategies and action plans in order to decrease social exclusion and poverty, the situation was not changing essentially. The society did not have enough information about the plans and decisions of the Government and the Government did not listen enough to the society’s proposals. The social exclusion and poverty reduction policy in Lithuania was not being based enough on the partnership between citizens and the Government.
Project “LabAS” was aiming to provide the Lithuanian social exclusion and poverty reduction policy with a truly European dimension which meant concentrating on the communication and co-operation between society and the Government in order to make this policy more efficient. During the project, the Lithuanian society was presented with the National activity plan for the social coverage area (NVP) prepared by the Social insurance and labour ministry. With the help of experts, the means of reducing social exclusion and poverty presented in this Plan were being discussed, evaluated and improved by the people of the Lithuanian regions (local communities, civic organizations and local government representatives). As a consequence, generalized recommendations of how to make the social exclusion and poverty reduction policy more efficient were prepared and presented to the public. Furthermore, successful local practices of reducing social exclusion and poverty were presented to the society and passed on to other regions.
The Project started with seminars and forums for the local governments and civic organizations representatives and regional media. Later on, five work groups were formed in different Lithuanian regions that with the help of experts were analysing local social exclusion and poverty reduction problems, looking for solutions, critically evaluating the national poverty reduction policy and making offers of how to make it more effective. One of the most important parts of the Project was to inform the public about the social exclusion and poverty situation and means of changing it. That is why the media, especially the regional one, was a strategic partner of the Project.
The Project was led by the Civil Society Institute expert Skirma Kondratas and carried out by the Institute‘s experts Boguslavas Gruževskis, Romas Lazutka, Arūnas Poviliūnas, Dainius Pūras, Algis Dobravolskas, Vita Karpuškienė, Vida Česnuitytė, Vida Beresnevičiūtė, Rūta Žiliūkaitė and Romas Sakadolskis.
Project „LabAS“ was financed by the European Commission under the Community Action Programme to Combat Social Exclusion. The European Commission shall not be held responsible or liable for its contents.
Report on the Project “Lithuania without social exclusion and poverty” (LabAS)