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 Program Resume - WVI Program in Azerbaijan (WVI)

 Duration: 31.12.1994 - present
 Location: Fizuli
 Sectors: Education
Food aid
Non-food relief aid
Water and sanitation

World Vision has been implementing humanitarian aid programmes in Azerbaijan since June 1994. While initial efforts concentrated solely on relief work with the IDP and refugee communities from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, WVs work has gradually assumed a more rehabilitation and developmental perspective, seeking to enable the IDPs to move towards a position of sustainable self-reliance. Programmes have included shelter rehabilitation, food distribution, income generation, water and sanitation, agricultural assistance, health and nutrition support, educational support and the distribution of a variety of in-kind items. This all has an emphasis, where possible, on promoting community mobilisation. Funding for these programmes has come from USAID through Save the Children and Mercy Corps, World Food Programme, UNHCR, the Soros Foundation and the governments of Azerbaijan, the Netherlands and the UK, as well as significant private funding from World Vision.

World Visions shelter programme has been operational since 1995. Focussing initially on the north-west and north-central regions the programme focussed on small shelters needing minor rehabilitation work, assisting over 3,000 families in 320 buildings. From 1997 the programme switched its focus to the Absheron Peninsula, an area with a large concentration of previously neglected IDPs, living in incomplete and degraded public buildings requiring complex rehabilitation work. In the last two years this programme has assisted over 5,800 families (over 26,500 individuals) in over 95 buildings, providing them with shelter that is safe, secure and meets basic standards for sanitation, weather resistance and services.

As a part of the shelter programme, WV implements a community mobilisation programme aimed at ensuring the IDP communities are actively involved in the planning and implementing of the work, take ownership of the work, and carry out effective maintenance following the completion of the rehabilitation. This has had significant follow-up effects with communities demonstrating new levels of organisation and mobilisation, implementing volunteer projects in areas of health education and childrens work under the guidance of WV staff.

As the World Food Programmes main implementing partner, World Vision distributes supplementary food rations to over 180,000 IDPs in 31 districts in central, north-west and south-west Azerbaijan. These rations consist of wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oil and pulses, a balanced basket aimed at providing 45% of a persons daily calorific requirements. In 1998 this constituted over 52% of all food aid distributed in Azerbaijan. Pilot Food For Work projects have also been implemented providing additional food for beneficiaries in return for work which will aid the community such as housing, sanitation and income generating activities.

As an accompaniment to the food distributions, WV has been operating a food security monitoring and nutritional education programme. This aims to monitor the food security status of the IDPs who receive food in order to act as an early warning system for changes in food needs; and to increase the impact of the food distributed through fostering greater understanding of its nutritional value and the necessity of an appropriate diet. The results of this campaign have found a 25% increase in health and nutrition understanding amongst those involved.

One of the most successful vehicles for assisting IDP families to achieve self-reliance has been WVs Azerbaijan Enterprise Fund (AZEF), which seeks to assist IDPs through business training and small loans in order to start or expand small businesses. Since its inception this programme has lent out over US$ 1.36million for the creation or expansion of over 3,750 businesses, of which over 45% are women-owned businesses. The repayment rate on loans had remained at around 90%, and families have reported an average increase in household income of over 100%. AZEF currently has 5 offices in Ganje, Qazax, Mingechevir, Baku and Imishli covering the north, central, south-west and Absheron peninsula areas of the country.

In addition to AZEF, in 1998 WV began an income generation project in Horadiz, Fizuli District, working with IDPs returning to the liberated zones. This programme is co-financed by the Government of Azerbaijan who are seeking to promote increasing return migration to these regions.

World Visions educational support programme has focussed largely on IDP schools in Sumgait seeking to rehabilitate the school buildings while also providing support to the teachers through the provision of educational resources such as pens, paper and sports equipment. In 1998-9 WV completed work on 6 school buildings including 2 kindergartens and a school for deaf and dumb children. A survey was also conducted of all IDP schools in the Absheron Peninsula region and WV will be seeking to implement this in 1999.

In addition to the above programmes, WV has distributed water filters to improve drinking water, and constructed over 500 ventilated improved pit latrines. Vegetable seeds have been distributed to improve food security, while other relief items distributed have included soap, detergent, poultry, blankets, clothing and sewing kits with which to produce and repair clothing. In addition to IDPs, vulnerable persons in orphanages and childrens homes have been targetted with this support.

World Vision Azerbaijan currently has nine expatriate staff representing Australia, Ethiopia, the Philippines, the UK and the USA, and 220 national staff.

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