South for South!

South for South!

Sicilian network of NGOs and associations of solidarity - Congass

Strengthening the awareness on international solidarity and the relationship between associations, media and institutions.

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Target country region: Sicily Region, Italy
Start date and end date of the Action: 1 May – 31 December 2015

Although international cooperation for development is often described (especially by institutions) as an essential instrument of solidarity among peoples and for the full realization of the fundamental human rights, as well as a strategy for social, civil and economic growth, the allocation of resources to support and make visible, shareable and sustainable this cooperation is often well below the needs. This is even more the case in Sicily, where the average income and the resources of the institutions are under the European average. The attention dedicated both by the media and the institutions to the cooperation and the education on global citizenship is few and marginal. This lack of attention and resources has consequences also at social level, translating itself in insufficient sensibleness or disorientation of the citizens towards these issues.

South for South! strengthened the knowledge, relationships and communication opportunities on development cooperation and education and the role of Europe involving especially local institutions in Palermo, Catania and Messina, young people (students of schools and universities) and teachers, civil society, artists and journalists. The relationship and dialogue is now more advanced with the local authorities in Palermo and Catania and under construction in Messina.

The networking within the project led to the organization of the two successful Cooperation Fairs in which the proposal for a regional law on international cooperation was presented publicly to the community – Sicily keeps on being one of the few Italian regions not having a regional law on external cooperation and on immigration. In addition, the fairs included workshops and seminars dedicated to institutional bodies and associations of the territories involved; information points, and public events addressed to the citizens. The bill for a regional law prepared together with Members of Parliament has been officially submitted to the Parliament. However, the discussion has not been yet introduced in the parliamentary calendar. As a consequence, a web petition was launched in October addressed to the President of the Region and the members of the reference parliamentary committee, asking them to speed up the process of discussion.


A deep and effective relationship has been built with schools, teachers, deans and students. Several, more than planned, awareness-raising events on development issues, migration and objectives of the EYD2015 were organized with very positive feedback. Only in Palermo, more than 30 training sessions at secondary schools (first and second degree) with awareness-raising and information activities were organised reaching a total of about 600 students and teachers. Other schools, still today, are asking for similar sessions.

The relations with journalists, given the increasing role of Sicily as a land of transit and arrival of refugees and displaced persons, and their focus on the particular problem of human trafficking were also discussed in Palermo, in relation to the situation of countries of origin of victims and possible cooperation to be implemented internationally. It appeared that the relationship between NGOs and the local media is a critical factor that needs to be reformulated: we need to analyse the methodologies, the language, and the tools. A working group was created thanks to the cooperation of the local journalists, and in particular a Youth association of social communication called Maghweb, the University and specifically its course of Social Communication, several artists and associations. As results, two workshops of social communication addressed to journalists and communication officers of associations were organized in Palermo and Catania and three workshops with the students of the social communication workshop were organised at the University of Palermo on communication, global education, migration, human trafficking, child protection and gender based violence.

To talk about cooperation and topics such as migration/inter-cultures and child protection also in a creative way, international and Sicilian artists from Palermo, Catania and Messina were involved in a street parade called ” Circus from South to South ” through Palermo 20 December 2015. This specific event allowed to involve the community, children and adults alike, and talk about the importance of cooperation, education and information in all the contexts: from Palestine to Congo, to Sicily itself.

In addition, a communication campaign was realized on development, empowerment, south, and sustainability of cooperation projects targeted at citizens of the three cities together with the participating journalists. It included a multimedia campaign, logo, banners, flyers, posters, postcards and the videos for the “Circus from South to South” event. Radio and video series was produced in cooperation with the broadcasting network TV Radio Azzurra FM. Through the websites of CONGASS and its members, the campaign “#nohatespeech – journalists and readers against hate speech” was promoted according to the Charter of Rome together with the European Federation of Journalists and “Article 21”, with the support of the national Order of Journalists and the Federation of the Italian press.

All the objectives have been achieved, with the involvement of at least 5,000 citizens of the three largest cities of Sicily: Palermo, Catania and Messina; 41 NGOs, third sector associations and organizations of civil society of Sicily; 9 public territorial institutions; 20 journalists; 30 schools and universities; about 2,000 students and teachers from schools and university courses; about 15,000 people in the provinces of Palermo, Catania, as final beneficiaries.

The project was an opportunity for the existing regional network of charitable associations “CONGASS” to exchange good experiences and practices and expand the network in the region on the issues of cooperation and migration. It is difficult to talk about cooperation in a territory characterized by sever socio-economical and relational crisis; this project and the activities of the EYD2015 represented a great tool, occasion and start for discussion and ongoing involvement of all different actors.