Norway is a small country, and we want to make sure we make a difference when we engage. We aspire to provide concrete assistance to longstanding challenges, and strengthen actors that do an important job. A number of exchanges and visits have taken place, students have gone to study, resources and experts have met to meet challenges that are not specifically Greek, but often European in perspective.
In the following, you will find a summary of what was achieved in previous funding periods.
Strengthening civil society to play a strategic role vis-à-vis the Government
In Norway we believe that civil society plays an important role as a watchdog and a strategic partner to the Government. Projects have provided welfare and basic services to vulnerable groups, developed advocacy and watchdog role, promoted democratic values and human rights, and strengthened the capacity of NGOs. Examples include interventions to improve nutrition in schools, developing video games for blind children, supporting to counselling center for victims of domestic violence, and interventions to promote bullying free schools.
Strengthening services to people worse hit by crisis
The important role civil society organizations play as service providers during the financial and migration crises was recognized. Thus, we were able to allocate €4.3 million for immediate support to the most vulnerable citizens of Athens through the Athens Solidarity Hub. More than 40,000 individuals worst hit by the economic crisis received free health care, legal aid, employment assistance, support to mothers, children and other vulnerable groups including migrants. More than 45 000 vouchers for supermarkets were distributed through the Municipality of Athens to more than 8,900 people in need.
Asylum and migration – long term institution building while also addressing urgent needs
Since 2013 we have worked closely, side by side, with the Asylum Service, to establish the institution and to provide funding for essential aspects of its operation, such as interpretation and case handling. Norway has also supported Greece in meeting the immediate needs that emerged from the peak in arrivals after 2015. Four reception centres were established for unaccompanied children and other vulnerable asylum seekers. Temporary accommodation, medical care and counselling/educational services to nearly 17 000 undocumented people, while they were being registered at the Reception and Identification Centre at Fylakio in Evros on the Greek-Turkish border, was provided.
Flagship projects in the area of green energy, many firsts for Greece.
Pilot projects have produced some ‘firsts’ in Greece – the first electric street and squares lighting powered by photovoltaics on the island of Andros, the first electric bus in Athens. Hospitals, universities and public buildings, now run part of their energy supply on photovoltaic panels. With some funding assistance, municipalities and public institutions have been able to realize their projects. These projects serve as pilots and examples of what can be done in other parts of Greece, with a limited amount of funding.
Another focus area of intervention has been water management. Working with municipalities, the grants have provided for the installation of Seawater Desalination Units, upgrading and improving of water supply systems and monitoring the quality of potable water produced on the islands of Pserimos, Telendos, Santorini (Oia), Leros and Ios. We are also very proud to have helped free the Amvrakikos Bay from pollution and thus save the wetlands. Also, since 1994 we have continuously been a major donor of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, supporting its efforts to keep the Greek Seas clean, by providing more than €35 million.
The grants have left a permanent mark in helping restore some key architectural treasures in Greece and build new ones. The renovation of the Upper Floor of the Stoa of Attalos and the digitalization of the excavation findings of the Ancient Agora of Athens, the renovation of the Kechrovouni nunnery at Tinos, the Thessaloniki Science Centre and Technology Museum “NOESIS”, the Cretaquarium in Heraklion are just a few of the projects that were funded by EEA Grants.