2009 Global Accomplishments
Afghanistan: Courses Offered to Women and Girls in Kandahar
Counterpart International's Initiative to Promote Afghan Civil Society (I-PACS) program, now in its fifth year, provides trainings, technical assistance and small grants to build the capacity of more than 200 local Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) so they can serve the needs of their communities.
Counterpart provides support to local Afghan organizations like the Kandahar Health and Development Organization (KHDO). Using the technical skills acquired at an I-PACS training, KHDO recently received funding for a $19,060 project to create a computer and English language course for female students in Kandahar province. Between July and December of 2009, more than 70 girls successfully completed the course and became certified in MS Office and Basic English language skills. This will allow these young women to generate income, support their families and remain independent.
KHDO is just one example of I-PACS's success. In the five years of this project, more than 250,000 Afghan citizens have benefited from I-PACS-supported organizations and their programming. From civic education programs explaining the importance of elections to counseling abused women about their legal rights, the partners that I-PACS supports are on the ground in Afghanistan making their communities better.
Afghanistan: Community Outreach and Successful Media Campaign
In 2009, as part of the Electoral Support in Afghanistan Project, Counterpart and its nine NGO partners recruited and trained more than 225 civic educators to conduct face-to-face sessions focused on the importance of citizen engagement at the community level. Sessions focused heavily on the role of women and youth, and how each group plays a critical role in strengthening Afghanistan's electoral process. Overall, more than 25,000 sessions were held in 2009, reaching more than one million Afghan voters.
To contribute to the greater goal of community outreach, Counterpart worked to establish a robust media campaign that used civil discourse to combat false public perceptions regarding the role of women in politics. Women in Politics, a nationally broadcasted radio roundtable program, offered a female perspective on Afghanistan's most pressing political and social issues. Weekly public service announcements were developed through this media campaign discussing democracy and elections, and a radio drama series titled Asking is Not a Shame, introducing listeners to basic concepts of civil society. All radio programs were aired nationally in both Dari and Pashto and reached over six million listeners across the country.
Armenia: Mental Health Foundation Reforms Legislation on Treatment of People with Mental Disabilities
In 2005, the Mental Health Foundation of Armenia (MHF), a Counterpart International core advocacy grantee, began a national-level advocacy campaign for the enforcement of an existing law against involuntary hospitalization and medical treatment of people with mental disabilities. In 2004, on behalf of its 35,000 beneficiaries, MHF successfully managed to lobby the government to pass the Law on Psychiatric Care. One year after the passage of the legislation, however, MHF identified that the government agencies were not expending the necessary resources to implement and oversee the implementation of the law.
After that realization, MHF began a campaign involving capacity building support, development of a national level NGO coalition, wide public education and a media campaign; their hard work resulted in improved sub legislative acts and increased state funding for the implementation of the Law. In late 2009, after five years of national campaigning, the Ministry of Health, the one time opponent of MHF, officially admitted the need for reform and developed a package of legislative changes to the law. Proposed amendments, now available on the National Parliament website, are the verbatim recommendations made by MHF in their 4th annual shadow report on the state of psychiatric treatment of mentally disabled people in Armenia. Under the Civic Advocacy Support Program, Counterpart is able to provide small grants to civil society organizations that show potential to be sustainable, effective organizations.
Armenia: Counterpart Reconstructs Bathroom Facilities at School for Mentally Disabled Children
With a grant from the United States Department of State, under the "Small Reconstruction Project" Initiative, Counterpart reconstructed the bathroom facilities at Special Boarding School #1 in Abovyan, Armenia, providing the children with safer and more sanitary living conditions.
Since 2004, Counterpart has been delivering humanitarian assistance to the Abovyan School, including bunk beds, bedding, clothing and school and hygiene supplies, worth $67,000. In 2007, Counterpart had renovated the school's cafeteria and kitchen.
Under this Small Reconstruction Project, the ceiling and walls have been repaired and painted, the floor has been evened and covered with ceramic tiles and the old wooden doors have been replaced with PVC doors. New lavatory pans and hand-washing basins with fittings have been installed; water pipes and electric cables have been replaced with new ones; the sewage system has been fixed; and two water tanks have been installed to provide permanent water for the bathrooms.
"This renovation is the best surprise for our children. While these children lack many things, your assistance brought rays of light to them. You can see joy and happiness in their eyes. We are very grateful to all those people who contributed to this project. Thank you very much for this support," said Melanya Poghosyan, director of the school.
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Azerbaijan: Counterpart and Azerbaijan Government Institutionalize International Best Practices for Public Financing of NGOs
Since 2007, Counterpart International has provided technical assistance to a new public financing institution in Azerbaijan: the NGO Council under the President of Azerbaijan. This assistance is rendered in a manner that strengthens civil society institutions in Azerbaijan and supports the development of an open and transparent public financing mechanism for NGOs that is compliant with international best practices.
In 2009, Counterpart organized two successful study tours for the NGO Council's senior management to Seattle (WA) and Croatia to help Azerbaijani officials become acquainted with the best US and European models of effective government-NGO relations and public funding. The NGO Council has since implemented two rounds of grants, providing 430 Azerbaijani NGOs with a total of $4 million in competitive grant assistance.
Regular technical assistance by Counterpart to the NGO Council's staff visibly increased their capacity in grant management, procurement practices, strategic planning, board management and RFP design and deployment. Counterpart plans to extend its partnership with the NGO Council in the areas of NGO capacity building, public dialogue and co-financing of NGO grants. Counterpart teams with the NGO Council within the framework of Counterpart's Civil Society Project.
Azerbaijan: Duz-Rasulla Village Celebrates Water Supply
In mid-2009, Counterpart began the construction of a water tank for the Duz-Rasulla village in the Gedebey region of Azerbaijan. Counterpart constructed a 72 ton capacity tank, after a pit was dug to accommodate the tank. The tank is 80 inches under ground level, and the visible part is 50 inches above ground, which prevents the water from freezing in the winter. The tank is a centerpiece of a brand new water system that provides water to over 1,000 people in the village.
Counterpart has worked in Duz-Rasullu village since 2002. Situated 280 miles from the capital Baku, this village is incredibly remote. Being so secluded has severely hindered their development and modernization efforts. Women and children must walk for miles to the nearest water spring. In winter, the roads and water sources froze, making their water availability problems even worse. While villagers had attempted to build their own pipeline, a lack of experience and funds resulted in a poorly-designed and malfunctioning tank.
Chief of the Executive Committee of Gedebey region, Kamran Rzazade, said: "It is obvious that Duz-Rasullu Water Tank answers all modern standard requirements and plays an important role in the provision of services to the population of our region." The reconstruction of the water supply has eliminated the villagers' need to walk to the closest water source, and it will have a positive effect on the living conditions of all local residents.
Belize: Counterpart Works to Develop National Responsible Tourism Policy
Funded by Critical Ecosystem Partnership Foundation, Counterpart International and Belize's Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations (APAMO) developed a participatory consultation process with civil society sectors in order to review existing tourism policies in Belize. The sector expressed a strong need for an integrated policy document that guides the tourism sector's growth and defines a mechanism for inter-sectoral planning, decision making and sustainable management of natural resources and cultural heritage, benefiting local populations.
In coordination with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation, a new multi stakeholder participatory planning process was implemented in 2009, producing the first draft of the Belize National Responsible Tourism. Counterpart and APAMO presented results of the project during the 3rd World Conference on Responsible Tourism, held in Belize in October 2009. The final draft will be presented to the public and delivered to the Ministry in 2010.
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Cameroon: School Gardens a Huge Success in Bui
In the Bui Division of Northwest Cameroon, the site of Counterpart International's Food for Education project, crop yields are low due to depleted soil fertility, lack of improved seeds and inputs, poor crop husbandry and minimal access to credit. To better provide nutritious food and improve the overall health of the communities, Counterpart focuses on creating and monitoring school gardens.
School gardens build the capacity of Parent Teacher Associations, students and entire communities; these groups are taught innovative methods of crop production, and they are given the basic inputs, like seeds and farm tools, to begin their gardens. With these skills and inputs, schools establish a garden whose produce complements and ensures the sustainability of the school feeding program: the produce is used alongside the USDA-donated food to feed the children nutritious lunches every day.
In 2009, Counterpart began a school garden pilot phase in 10 schools. Within the first harvesting season, the school gardens' crop yields were double the area's typical production mean: potato yield before the garden was a mere 10 tons per hectare, while now it has risen to 25 tons per hectare.
One of the beneficiary schools even won the first prize in potato production in the Bui Division's annual Agro-Pastoral Show. With such success, Counterpart is expanding its school garden program, designing gardens in the remaining 40 schools; these communities will harvest their first crops during the next growing season.
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Dominican Republic: Promoting Sustainable Rice Production
Through the Dominican Sustainable Tourism Alliance Project, Counterpart International brings together a coalition of rice farmers, water user groups, agri-businesses, agricultural finance institutions and government agencies to reduce the negative environmental impacts of rice cultivation, and to improve the economic competitiveness of rice farming in the country's northwest region.
The indiscriminate use of agricultural chemicals, a legacy of the country's agricultural intensification schemes during the 1980s, has threatened the survival of the region's renowned mangrove forests and coral reefs within Monte Cristi National Park. In partnership with local NGO, AgroFrontera, Counterpart worked with rice farmers in three pilot areas, training them in a range of soil and water conservation techniques and integrated pest and nutrient management practices. As a result, these farmers have reduced the quantity and frequency of chemicals entering waterways, while also experiencing increased average economic yields of rice by over 15 percent.
By the end of 2010, the project hopes to reach 2,000 farmers, establishing a sustainable rice production system that is both environmentally sound and economically profitable.
Dominican Republic: Hope for the Unemployed Youth
In the Dominican Republic, 33 percent of young people between 15 and 29 years old have not received a basic education, and 62 percent have not finished secondary school (2002 Census). Without a basic education, these youth have little chance of entering the formal job market. Yet despite the thousands of unemployed youth, the country's Tourism Industry is thriving. It composed 62 percent of the DR's gross domestic product and employed over 58 percent of its working population in 2005.
Counterpart International's Youth Vocational Training Project uses the booming tourism industry as the vehicle to better the lives of the unemployed youth – offering long-term career opportunities, while at the same time boosting the country's tourism industry. The project reduces the "skills gap" by increasing the number of disadvantaged young people prepared for long-term careers in the hospitality and tourism sector. Counterpart also works with employers to provide work-based learning experiences that lead to long-term careers.
In 2009, Counterpart successfully launched the first cycle of training sessions, which is just the start to ensuring students acquire the technical knowledge needed in the labor market. Already the program has seen high enrollment and high attendance in the offered courses, plus serious interest in Counterpart's mentored internships.
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Ethiopia: Counterpart Carries Out Extensive Tourism Assessment
In 2009, Counterpart's Ethiopian Ecotourism Development Program, through USAID's Ethiopian Sustainable Tourism Alliance (ESTA), completed a comprehensive assessment regarding the status of tourism within Ethiopia. This marked an important step in developing the country's economy through tourism. Utilizing a participatory multi-stakeholder approach, the assessment focused on the sustainable tourism development of potential destinations within the Central and Southern Rift Valleys. Specifically, the creation of six community conservation areas (CCAs) was proposed. In the Central Rift Valley, these CCAs are East Langano, Lepis and Lake Ziway. In the Southern Rift Valley, these CCAs are Dorze, Maze and Konso. A report was created, titled "Mapping the Context," which shows a thorough understanding of the issues surrounding tourism in Ethiopia, identifying challenges and opportunities in regard to governance, social and economic development, environmental issues and civil society engagement.
With report in hand, ESTA partners, stakeholders, USAID and Counterpart met to design an integrated ecotourism development program. This program will place a heavy focus on community development interventions and defines a major role for local implementation partners – local NGOs who have significant experience as destination areas and will lead the implementation process as part of ESTA. The Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society holds this role in the Central Rift Valley, and the Netherlands Development Organization fulfills the same function in the Southern Rift Valley.
As 2009 came to a close, the implementation process began for the ESTA, once the local implementation partners were finalized and staff was in place. Counterpart is now working hard in conjunction with multiple public, private and community stakeholders to develop tourist attractions, preserve biodiversity, establish community-based natural resource management and increase economic growth.
Georgia: Small Reconstruction Project at Kvareli Gymnasium
In 2009, as part of the United States Department of State's "Small Reconstruction Project" initiative, Counterpart International completed a renovation of the cafeteria and kitchen at St. Ilia Martali Gymnasium in Kvareli, Georgia.
In early 2008, Counterpart first began plans to renovate the gymnasium's kitchen and cafeteria. The school expressed its readiness to provide co-financing to the Small Reconstruction Project in order to complete the necessary renovations. In May 2009, Counterpart staff in Georgia began the construction – completely reconstructing the kitchen and cafeteria building of the gymnasium: replacing electric lines; renovating the water supply, drain and waste systems; laying ceramic floors; replacing old doors and windows; and repairing and painting ceilings and walls.
St. Ilia Martali Gymnasium was established in 1961 as a regular boarding school. Due to lack of funds, the school was forced to shut down in 1994. Faced with large numbers of vulnerable children now without a home, the Patriarchate of Georgia decided to reopen the school in 1999. Today, 255 children attend this school. And now they can enjoy a brand new kitchen and cafeteria.
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After five successful years, Counterpart International's partnership with Opportunity Industrialization Centers International (OICI) in Ghana came to a close in September 2009. The Enhancement of Household Agriculture, Nutrition, Risk Reduction & Community Empowerment (ENHANCE) program reduced food and livelihood insecurity in Ghana's most vulnerable districts.
Counterpart focused specifically on improving the health and nutrition practices of 28,500 women and children in 10 districts in Northern and Southern Ghana through behavior change communication, management of childhood illness and training of community health workers. At the close of the project, data show a 7.6 percent increase in women utilizing antenatal health care services and a 7 percent decrease in underweight children. The communities showed a 16 percent jump in women delivering at a health facility, and a 41.2 percent increase in women who are breastfeeding within an hour of deliver.
Counterpart was also responsible for developing a Vulnerability Surveillance and Response System that assists the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ghana Health Service in the early identification and response to problems of food insecurity and health threats. It uses GIS data to accurately determine yields, can track where food is actually produced and can help provide an explanation when yields are poor.
Guatemala: Handicrafts Improve the Lives of Handicapped People in Santiago Atitlán
In 2009, as part of Alianza para el Turismo Comunitario, Counterpart International offered a small grant to the Association of Parents and Friends of Handicapped People (ADISA) to provide technical assistance in strengthening the marketability of their handicraft products.
Francisco and Argentina Sojuel created ADISA after their own daughter passed away at age 8 from hydrocephaly. From that experience, they learned that being handicapped in Guatemala is incredibly difficult. Francisco and Argentina were determined to provide a better life for Guatemala's handicapped. ADISA, while offering a variety of programmatic opportunities, focuses much of its energy on the sale of its handicrafts; the proceeds from products sales help the handicapped members and their families in addition to supporting the organization.
Counterpart offered a grant to ADISA in order to improve the marketability of their handicrafts. Under the grant program, internationally renowned designer Mimi Robinson and a group of design students worked with ADISA to create a high-end collection of handicrafts from recycled materials. The pieces were showcased at the 2009 New World Craft Fair in Antigua, Guatemala. Attended by both national and international buyers, this fair proved incredibly beneficial for ADISA: they received many orders for custom products, and several potential business partnerships were identified.
Counterpart will continue to support ADISA in developing and promoting new product lines. With adequate support, NGOs like ADISA can help the disadvantaged in Guatemala find opportunities to build their livelihoods as well as support their community.
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Haiti: Counterpart's HIV/AIDS Awareness Program Closes with a Memorable Tournament
As the HIV/AIDS Awareness project came to a close in Fall of 2009, Counterpart International and local implementing partner Coca-Cola Foundation brought together all 20 schools for an Interschool Tournament to celebrate the success of the project and showcase the important lessons learned. The competition focused on HIV prevention messages, expressed through creative skits, songs and dances based on "edutainment" – the method of choice that combines education with entertainment. Preliminary rounds were held between clubs at every school, and the Finalists competed at this Grand Finale event.
In addition to the 4,000 youth present, representatives from each school, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Youth and Sport, the Ministry of Health, and other NGO partners were all in attendance. Local Haitian media covered the event, allowing other members of the communities to hear these important HIV prevention messages.
Students tackled issues like safe sex, STDs and the truths about HIV/AIDS transmission. The music, fun and "edutainment" at the Interschool Tournament showcased the accomplishments of all the students over the two years, as well as shared important HIV/AIDS information with the larger Haitian community.
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India: How Lyrics in Ahmedabad Save Lives
Over its nine years of implementation, the Jeevan Daan Maternal Health and Child Survival Program has worked to improve the staggering statistics on maternal health and child nutrition. Counterpart International, working alongside local NGO partner, Saath, provided culturally sensitive health messages and education to keep children in India's urban slums alive through their most vulnerable early years.
Street theater proved an important teaching tool to convey important messages about immunizations, breast-feeding and newborn care. Below is an example of a song promoting breastfeeding:
Sun. Suna. Deti kya pahelaa dhudh
(Listen. Say. Do you breastfeed your child? Do you know the importance of breastfeeding?)
Kya karu Deki me Pahela dhudh
(How do I breastfeed? How is it beneficial?)
Are me to Shakti he. Is me to Takat he
(It contains power and strength)
Bacho ko rogo se bachata he ye. Acchha…
(It protects children from disease)
When Counterpart's project began, only 48 percent of children ages 12-23 months received immunizations. Now, after nine successful years, 77.8 percent of children 12-23 months old are vaccinated. With theater and songs, Jeevan Daan community health workers bring the message of sound nutrition and healthy childrearing to families in 10 urban slum areas of Ahmedabad in Gujarat State, India.
To learn more about Counterpart's project in Ahmedabad, please read Proto Magazine's feature story.
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Jamaica: "Vibes Village" Teaches Youth about HIV/AIDS
During the last year of Counterpart International and Coca Cola Foundation's Jamaica Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Project, Counterpart's local partner, Ashe Performing Arts, continued their work to reduce HIV/AIDS transmission through educational entertainment ("edutainment") and building life skills of Jamaican youth.
Ashe established the "One on One Vibes Village," set up at all participating schools to teach children about the dangers of unsafe sex. Children travel along a course and meet sexually transmitted infections, characterized through edutainment performances, in the "HIV/AIDS Horror House," followed by peer counseling discussion with the students in the "Chill Room & Abstinence Lounge."
In 2009, seven additional schools joined the Project from across the island, representing both urban and rural locations. Throughout the year, 1,240 students participated in one or more One on One Vibes Village school visits.
A Documentary DVD was produced and distributed to all 20 partners. The DVD represents tangible evidence and documentation of the project's work, and it can be used after the project's end to deliver the messages to a wider audience. The Ministry of Education has pledged to include the documentary in its regular health curriculum across the public school system.
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Kazakhstan: Internews Kazakhstan Launches Public Policy Talk Shows
In November 2009, Internews Kazakhstan, a grantee of Counterpart International, launched fifteen "Saigez" public policy talk shows. These twenty-minute programs cover issues like freedom of mass-media, gender equality, religion, the woman and business, access to information, law on the Internet, free legal aid, local self-government, vocational education and training and land ownership disputes.
These shows inform the population about nationwide challenges in an accessible, clear way. "Saigez" is aired on the Nau-TV channel on Fridays at 12:00pm and 6:00pm with re-runs on Saturdays. The program is also broadcasted on 14 independent stations.
Since "Saigez" began seeing air time, four more stations have shown interest in broadcasting these talk shows, and two Almaty TV channels are in the process of negotiations. Commercials promoting these shows have been produced as a way to spread the word and attract viewers. With the impressive media attention these shows have received, Counterpart expects the "Saigez" talk shows to reach more than 5 million Kazak people. The program has already received significant public interest, demonstrating just how important these issues are in the eyes of the public.
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Kyrgyzstan: Neonatal Resuscitation Training Project
Counterpart International's Neonatal Resuscitation Training Project (NRTP) worked to decrease the neonatal death rate caused by asphyxia in Kyrgyzstan. Counterpart worked alongside UNICEF, LDS Charities and the Ministry of Health of Kyrgyzstan to conduct two 2-day trainings for obstetrical specialists from institutions in Talas, Chui, Naryn, Issyk-Kul Oblasts and Bishkek Municipalities and to provide training materials and equipment to the specialists invited.
Asphyxia is one of the main causes of neonatal death in Kyrgyzstan. It is a terminal condition caused by a lack of oxygen before, during or after birth. Obstetrical physicians that are trained in resuscitation and equipped with the appropriate tools, like emergency ventilation systems, can greatly decrease newborn deaths due to asphyxia.
Counterpart was involved in the project's implementation at all stages, from finding donors to organizing the training sessions to distributing the medical equipment and educational materials. Held at the National Center of Motherhood and Childhood Protection in Bishkek city, the two training sessions instructed 76 medical specialists, 10 more than originally expected.
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Mauritania: Transforming Milk Leads to Food Security
In rural Mauritania, subsistence farming and livestock production is the way of life. But when the dry season hits the region each year from October through March, these farmers' livelihoods are threatened. Communities suffer from extreme food insecurity shocks where their livestock and agricultural means do not provide enough daily nutritional value. During the rainy season of July through September, however, these same communities dispose of over 500 liters of unused milk a day.
Counterpart International, in an effort to decrease these food insecurity shocks, has piloted an innovative project that trains communities to make use of that unwanted milk in a resourceful way. During the rainy season, women are trained in converting their fresh milk into dried cheese that can then be consumed during their dry season, when food is scarce.
Dried cheese differs from other dried milk products in that it retains a larger protein and fat quantity per serving. Once the cheese is dried, it is stored and later eaten as is, or mixed with water or milk to create a traditional drink.
Women who have been trained in cheese-making have returned to their communities and shared that training with fellow community members. During a follow up visit, one woman said: "Since we have returned, we have been making cheese every day. After we make enough for our house, we want to make more and sell it to others." This innovative solution prevents serious food insecurity for these communities and helps further their own self-sufficiency.
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Moldova: Small Reconstruction Project Renovates Ivancha Boarding School
Counterpart International, working under the United States Department of State "Small Reconstruction Projects" initiative, replaced old, non-functioning doors in the Sylvan Sanatorium Gymnasium for Children with Cardiovascular Diseases in Orhei Raion.
The new doors will provide the living areas and classrooms with warmth and improve the health and wellbeing of the students. They should also allow the school to save a considerable amount on heating expenses.
The Sylvan Sanatorium Gymnasium for Children with Cardiovascular Diseases, founded in 1977, houses 200 children and offers rehabilitation courses and permanent healthcare supervision. The building has not undergone any major structural repairs in its 30 years of operations. After multiple visits to the gymnasium and many discussions with the principal, Gheorghe Bruma, Counterpart decided to replace the dilapidated doors with new ones for the entire building, including entryways and classroom doors. Counterpart invested in 32 brand-new inner doors, 3 outer doors and 2 windows.
The installation of new doors has allowed the students to be healthier, feel more comfortable, get proper medical treatment and rehabilitate faster. With the implementation of the project, the kids can receive rehabilitation healthcare services in warmer and healthier conditions.
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Niger: Counterpart Revitalizes 250 Cereal Banks
The creation and maintenance of cereal banks has proved essential to the food security of many villages in Niger. When food is short, villages rely on these cereal banks as their daily source of nutritious food. Many of these cereal banks, however, cannot function properly due to poor management or a lack of initial investment. Counterpart International has set out to transform and modify the role of cereal banks in Niger, enabling villages to better withstand food shortage shocks.
In 2009, Counterpart thoroughly examined 250 cereal banks through southern Niger (in the Zinder and Diffa regions) as part of the Multi-Year Assistance Program. Counterpart is now rehabilitating the 100 cereal banks that were in desperate need of structural maintenance. After the repairs have been made, Counterpart will train management teams and distribute 1,000 metric tons of cereals as an initial investment to the 250 area cereal banks. With proper training and a sizeable initial investment of cereal, these cereal banks will provide food to more than 33,000 people in an area that suffers from chronic shortages of nutritious grains.
Although this is an expensive operation, costing more than $1,200 per cereal bank, the long-term benefits are abundant: decreased malnutrition and less reliance on foreign food aid, while providing hope of self-sufficiency to the villages.
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Senegal: Hibiscus in Northern Senegal
In Senegal, hibiscus is a highly valued flower used in making juice and tea. While hibiscus creates high yield and high profits, Senegalese farmers are hesitant to grow it due to the high costs in labor and amount of water required.
Counterpart International, in partnership with three local women's groups, has developed a method that not only encourages women to begin planting hibiscus, but also provides them with reliable income and food. Counterpart linked the women's groups with a private company that provided high quality seeds, fertilizers and technical assistance as well as a market for the hibiscus. The three women's groups were provided with two hectares of irrigated land, plus the labor required; they planted half the land with melon and half with hibiscus.
Since there is a risk that the hibiscus crop could fail or produce poor quality product, Counterpart recommends to all farmers to plant melon and sweet potatoes on half their land, helping to decrease the risk while sustaining the women through the labor intensive hibiscus cultivation period. This pilot program is the beginning of a long cycle of successful production in an area of Senegal highly impacted by food insecurity.
Listen to our podcast on food security in Senegal.
Sudan: Counterpart Completes Primary School Support Program
In 2009, Counterpart International's Humanitarian Assistance Team completed the Women and Girls' Education and Livelihood Support Program, funded by the State Department's Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration (BPRM). Together with national staff member Josephine Napeyok, Shane Austin spent a week in Kapoeta County coordinating the completion and handover of the construction projects serving returnees who had been displaced during the many years of civil war.
During his stay, Shane oversaw the final steps in the completion of the boarding facilities at the primary school Counterpart had built last year. Counterpart teamed with the community to construct a dining hall, dormitories, showers and latrines, complementing the eight classrooms and latrines built last year. Counterpart provided training in brick making to a local women's group and purchased over 10,000 bricks produced by the women for construction of the facilities providing a critical boost to the income of the group's members. Counterpart also installed a solar-powered water pump linking a borehole to two large tanks on the compound. The water tanks provide water pressure for the showers and supply water to the dining hall. Counterpart also provided furnishings for the dining hall and mattresses and beds to sleep 120. A container of school desks, school note paper, used clothing, shoes, bedding and school kits arrived at the school in early February as a final component of the project.
During the handover ceremony, Shane led community members and dignitaries on a tour of the facilities. Community leaders thanked Counterpart and the US Government, noting that the school is the best in the county and probably the region.
Tajikistan: Counterpart Restores the Boarding House for Disabled in the Gissar District
In December 2009, Counterpart International celebrated one of the many successful Small Reconstruction Projects in the Gissar District of Tajikistan. Joining with trusted and long-term partner, Munis Charity Center, Counterpart began repairs to the Boarding House for the Disabled in the fall of 2009.
The Boarding House serves more than 213 disabled persons. Founded in 1961, this institution's infrastructure was severely damaged in the 1989 Sharora Earthquake. In the last 20 years, no repairs have been done to the buildings, making it very difficult to provide suitable conditions for the disabled. The Health Center had become completely out of service due to horrific conditions, forcing the institution to refer all patients, even those needing emergency medical attention, to the Central District Hospital of Gissar District.
Thanks to the generous sponsorship of the U.S. Department of State, Office of the Coordinator of U.S. Assistance to Europe and Eurasia (EUR/ACE), Counterpart was able to reconstruct four rooms and a corridor in the boarding house. Roofing and ceilings were replaced, floors and walls painted, doors and windows reinstalled, and the water supply and drainage systems were reinstalled.
This project will not only create a better living environment, but will provide safer hygienic conditions and improved healthcare services for the disabled within this Boarding House.
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Turkmenistan: Youth Business Training and Employment
Counterpart International's Community Empowerment Program promoted youth entrepreneurship by providing them with basic business knowledge and skills, as well as opportunities for them to start their own businesses. Counterpart trained 382 young people in three business training modules: Developing a Business Idea and Writing a Business Plan, Advanced Marketing, Sales and Negotiations and Business and Community Financial Management and Accounting. After the training, the participants presented 54 developed business plans, 24 of which were successfully implemented, leading to the creation of small businesses in areas such as bread baking, computer games salons, greenhouses and sewing shops.
The findings of the Youth Labor Market Research were used to define potential areas for vocational training for youth. Counterpart announced the Youth Job Skills Grant Program and commissioned four training centers licensed by the Ministry of Education to deliver vocational training. In total, 261 young people from the communities received training and gained practical skills in accounting, English, tailoring and computer literacy. Over 60 percent of the students were young women.
Counterpart facilitated the placement of 238 youth in internships with local employers across various sectors. The internship program allowed youth to increase their understanding of local businesses and gain practical experience and skills.
Ukraine: Small/Medium Transportation Program (SMTP)
During 2009, Counterpart's SMTP in Ukraine provided the facilitation and management of transportation services for qualified U.S. private voluntary organizations (PVO) donating humanitarian aid to vulnerable groups in Ukraine. Our SMTP provided support to 23 Ukraine consignees (charitable organizations, non-governmental organizations, religious organizations) throughout the entire process of receiving humanitarian cargo. These activities included: working with documentation on maintenance of humanitarian cargo; counseling consignees in questions on legislation and procedures concerning receiving humanitarian cargo; monitoring of logistic process; providing management of process of receiving humanitarian cargo; and working with the Humanitarian Assistance Commission and Ukraine Custom on Humanitarian help issue, Ministry of Health of Ukraine and other governmental organizations.
Counterpart was able to deliver commodities like clothing, medical equipment, wheelchairs, walking aids, bedding, school supplies, hygiene supplies and newborn supplies to orphanages, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, families with disabled children, homeless communities, the disabled and the elderly.
Vietnam: Expanding Pre-Hospital Trauma Care Service Delivery Capacity
Counterpart International's Pre-Hospital Trauma Care Program (PHTC), in coordination with the Khanh Hoa Province People's Committee, the Khanh Hoa Department of Health and local partners, established the first-ever provincial emergency medical "115" hotline and service center. The "115" service was established in partnership with the Khanh Hoa Department of Health to enhance the province's overall emergency response capacity and to support the effective delivery of injured patients from the scene of an accident to the nearest medical facility. Operations conducted by the 115 Center are closely linked with those of the Emergency Department of the Khanh Hoa General Hospital.
Vietnam: Counterpart's Efforts Receive Affirmation from Academic Community
Counterpart's work on community-based tourism in Vietnam has been featured in a new academic textbook on anthropology and tourism: Tourists and Tourism: a Reader, released in September 2009 by Waveland Press. The textbook, written by former Counterpart consultant, Melissa Stevens, dedicates an entire chapter to Counterpart's tourism strategy.
Counterpart introduced tourism development activities to supplement families' income from traditional agriculture, while also decreasing their reliance on illegal logging and other environmentally destructive practices in the buffer zone surrounding the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. One local village, for example, offers home-stays to tourists with meals prepared from locally produced ingredients as well as biking, kayaking and trekking services operated by local residents.
Stevens highlights Counterpart's commitment to inclusion and empowerment of local communities in the design and implementation of its tourism development work. She concludes that Counterpart is "aware of the local power structure and of their own position…. and have developed methods to address the power disparities that exist and to promote the inclusion of vulnerable populations so that the final community-based tourism project is truly community owned and controlled."