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 Report - Monthly Activity Report (WVI)

 Report date: 31.12.1997

Executive Summary

During the month of January, World Vision Azerbaijan welcomed new National Director, Stu Willcuts. 621 MT of WFP supplemental food rations were distributed to 44,744 beneficiaries. World Vision is expanding the current WFP supplemental food distribution to include an additional 87,000 beneficiaries and 13 districts in central and south-central Azerbaijan. QIIP has provided an additional 132 loans to create and expand IDP businesses. CSRP continues work on 15 shelters in Sumgait, home to 5,628 beneficiaries. Myles Harrison has been appointed Regional Manager based in Mingechevir, and Tammie Harris joins World Vision Azerbaijan to conduct a three-month nutritional survey.

1. New World Vision Azerbaijan National Director:

World Vision Azerbaijan welcomed new National Director Stu Willcuts to Azerbaijan, effective January 1, 1998. Stu, an American, served with World Vision International as Associate Director of Latin America Region from 1977-1982, Relief Associate from 1982-1985, and Representative for East Africa, based in Nairobi, Kenya from 1985 to 1987. In 1990, Stu was named Vice-President of Northwest Medical Teams International, a US-based NGO. He was named as a member of the DART Team of OFDA for Operation Provide Comfort in Northern Iraq and an assessment team to Albania and Romania. In 1992, Stu joined the American Red Cross as the representative to the Soviet Union based in Moscow. As the Soviet Union dissolved that same year, Stu was moved to Armenia where he was the deputy head of delegation for the IFRC and relief delegate for the ICRC from the Fall of 1992 until mid-1993.

In mid-1993, he joined SCF-USA as the Caucasus Regional Director. He was transferred to Angola in Spring 1994 to open the SCF/USA program. In January 1995, Stu was named as one of the DART/OFDA officers for Sarajevo, Bosnia finishing in July. He then was asked to lead an International Medical Corps team to assess the healthcare needs of Sierra Leone and Liberia, finishing in December, 1995. Stu then joined AirServ International to assist in opening their program in Liberia in early 1996. Due to the change in the political situation the AirServ program could not be realized. Stu was then contracted by USAID as the Food for Peace officer for Sierra Leone finishing in December, 1997.

World Vision Azerbaijan is excited to have Stu leading our programs. He brings with him a wealth of experience, and a detailed knowledge of the Transcaucus region. Please join us in extending a warm welcome to Stu.

2. Supplemental Food Assistance

The first month of the first round of the 1998 distribution of World Food Programme (WFP) supplementary food rations to seventeen north-central and northwest districts was completed on 31 January. During January, over 621 MT of supplementary food rations of flour, peas, oil and sugar have been distributed to 44,744 beneficiaries, comprising 11,828 families. Over 243 MT of wheat flour and 480MT of vegetable oil arrived and were unloaded at the warehouse in Mingechevir.

With final approval given this month from WFP headquarters in Rome, World Vision is preparing for an expansion of our current food distribution program, to include an additional 13 districts of central and south-central Azerbaijan. This distribution will be based in Imishli, and will provide 1,800 MT or three months of emergency food aid to 87,000 refugees and IDPs who stood to have their food assistance cut off without notice. This month, the staffing and support structures have been put in place: a World Vision office was opened in Imishli, warehousing was secured, food rations for the Imishli operation have been transferred from Mingechevir and diverted from new WFP shipments. Some previous CARE Intl. staff have been retained, new staff have been hired, and World Vision staff has been transferred. World Vision’s food distribution and monitoring systems have been established in Imishli, and new staff is being trained in conjunction with the Mingechevir operation. Distribution in the new districts is to begin mid-February.

The Food For Work pilot program continues, with the number of participant families over 100. Several new work sites have been identified in Ganje and Mingechevir, and World Vision continues to explore possible future projects as a means of providing assistance for those families likely to be phased out from future WFP food distributions.

3. Income Generation

The Quick Impact Income Project (QIIP) seeks to provide small loans for business creation among IDPs, to increase family income, food security and standards of living of IDP families in Ganje, Mingechevir, Kazak and Baku. In January, $66,750 in loans has been disbursed, with an average loan size of $513. An additional 132 QIIP-supported businesses have been created or expanded. Since its inception, QIIP has lent out over $630,000, to start or expand a total of 2,098 businesses.

In Baku and Ganje, the demand for second and third loans among current QIIP clients continues to increase. Upon "graduating" from the QIIP program, which involves repaying the initial loan, keeping detailed records of all business activity during the life of the loan, updating business and marketing plans, and attending all required business training and regular meetings with World Vision Business Advisors, QIIP clients then become eligible apply for second and third loans. These loans are beneficial for all parties involved: existing QIIP clients who have proven their creditworthiness as well as their business skills are eligible for additional loans to further expand their successful businesses. This translates to increased revenues and profit, the hiring of additional workers (who are usually also IDPs), and increased financial security and self-reliance for participating IDP families. For QIIP Business Advisors, they continue to deal with clients who understand the importance of the business skills taught them and put them into practice, have proven their ability to repay QIIP loans, and have established markets to sell their goods or services.

4. Community Shelter Rehabilitation Project (CSRP)

The ongoing mechanisms for cleaning and maintaining the buildings continue to proceed well, and witness an increased understanding of communal responsibility among the shelters’ IDP residents. The six-month evaluation period for Shelter Working Group (SWG) craftsmen for buildings completed in the summer has come to the end. During this time, the craftsmen were responsible for on-going maintenance needs of the rehabilitated shelters, as identified by the community through the SWG. Reports from the SWG indicate that craftsmen have completed well over 80% of all maintenance requests from the SWG within two weeks of the requests. There is also high praise for the work of these craftsmen, both from community residents and SWG leaders.

Following this six-month evaluation, the toolkits are given to the craftsmen, and it is the responsibility of the community to compensate the craftsmen for any future repairs. In the shelters in which the six-month evaluation is complete, on-going maintenance continues to be performed by craftsmen, who are either compensated for their work by individual families, or perform the needed services for free for poor families in their shelter. To facilitate the ownership of the community in on-going maintenance needs of their shelter, WV has also provided each SWG with a small amount of spare parts, such as additional cement, sockets, fuses, and light bulbs. On-going maintenance supplies are paid with collections from the residents as organized by the SWG.

CSRP continues rehabilitation work on 15 large public buildings in Sumgait, home to 5,628 beneficiaries. Because of the impending winter weather conditions, work on the roofs of these shelters was the first priority of the rehabilitation. This roofing work was carried out on all 15 buildings simultaneously, and is now completed. Since 1995, World Vision has rehabilitated over 475 public buildings and shelters, providing sanitation, safety and security to over 34,000 beneficiaries.

5. Nutritional Survey:

A comprehensive nutritional survey is being completed in the 30 districts in which World Vision currently distributes food assistance to over 190,000 beneficiaries. Questionnaires and initial research are being developed in conjunction with WFP and other NGOs. Local staff is being recruited and trained, with the survey to be carried out in February and March. This survey will assess household food security and nutrition for IDP children and families currently receiving food rations, and is being conducted by World Vision in order to target the most vulnerable recipients as we enter a phase-out period in supplementary food assistance.

6. Staff comings and goings:

Myles Harrison, previously Program Officer, Operations Officer, and most recently Acting Officer in Charge for seven months, has been appointed Regional Manager with the arrival of new Country Director, Stu Willcuts. Myles will be responsible for overseeing the 30-district food distributions, regional microenterprise operations in Ganje, Mingechevir and Kazak, the nutritional survey currently being conducted, and the Food for Work pilot program, as well as possible future repatriation efforts. Myles, a British citizen, graduated from Leeds University in the UK with a degree in Management Studies and Operational Research.

Tammie Harris joined World Vision Azerbaijan’s staff in January, to conduct the nutritional survey in the 30 districts in which World Vision distributed food aid. Tammie’s previous relief and development experience was in Senegal, and in Sri Lanka with the Peace Corps. She received an MPH from Tulane University in the US.

WVAz continues to search for two open staff positions. An MED Project Manager has yet to be identified, though the search process continues. Additionally, a Commodities Officer is sought to manage WVAz’s USAID/WFP food distributions from the Mingechevir office and warehouses. Both staffing needs are anticipated for April 1998. World Vision Azerbaijan has 8 expatriate staff, representing Australia, Ethiopia, United Kingdom, and the United States, and 200 national staff.

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