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 Report - Monthly Activity Report (WVI)

 Report date: 31.05.1998

Executive Summary

During the months of May and June, World Vision Azerbaijan distributed 1,377MT of supplementary food rations of flour, peas, oil and sugar to 92,981 beneficiaries from the areas served by the Mingechevir operation, while 1,205MT of food was distributed to 81,081 beneficiaries from the areas served by the Imishli operation. The nutritional education campaign has begun in the 31 districts served by the WV/WFP food program. AZEF provided $160,850 in loans to create and expand 288 IDP businesses. The microenterprise program in Horadiz, in concert with UNDP and the Government of Azerbaijan, is underway, with office and living quarters having been secured, and potential staff screened and interviewed. The Community Shelter Rehabilitation Project is completing work on the first five new public buildings in Sumgait under the new MCI/USAID grant. World Vision’s Sponsor A School program in Sumgait continues, with Lachin school #12 designated for assistance. Tina Monson has joined WV Azerbaijan’s staff as Project Manager for the Horadiz microenterprise program.

1. Supplemental Food Assistance

The third round of the 1998 distribution of World Food Programme (WFP) supplementary food rations to thirty districts throughout Azerbaijan was completed on 30 June. During May and June, 1,377MT of supplementary food rations of flour, peas, oil and sugar have been distributed to 92,981 beneficiaries from the areas served by the Mingechevir operation, while 1,205MT of food was distributed to 81,081 beneficiaries from the areas served by the Imishli operation.

Documentation and new registration continue to be issues for the food program. Despite coordination among WV, other food agencies and WFP, many needy IDP families slip through the cracks, unable to qualify for food distribution due to outdated or improper documents and identification. World Vision and WFP are committed to providing food to all those who genuinely qualify for the program, but who, through no fault of their own, are not currently eligible.

With the cooperation of various Executive Committees, WV and WFP have identified hundreds of families who fall into this category. 181 families in the Turkish Camp were identified as eligible, needy families with improper documentation, and were promptly re-registered. They will now be provided with food rations in the normal WV distribution cycles. Additionally, WV is planning to review and scrutinize the documentation of several hundred families in the Gazakh and Agstafa regions who were identified as eligible families with improper documentation by the local Executive Committees. Good working relationships with the local authorities ensure that World Vision and WFP will continue to meet the nutritional needs of IDPs throughout the country.

Good relationships with local authorities in Imishli are helping resolve a potentially difficult situation. There was a recent attempted break-in at the Imishli warehouse housing WFP food commodities. However, due to the security precautions in the warehouse, with reinforced steel doors, the perpetrators were unable to enter the warehouse. The local police, with whom WV enjoys an excellent relationship, were notified and the police investigated the break-in, but as yet have turned up no leads. They have stated, however, that in the future they will regularly patrol the area around the warehouse and "keep an eye on things" to help supplement WV’s security staff and measures.

2. Nutritional Survey

The nutritional education campaign has begun in the 31 districts served by the WV/WFP food program. This campaign, funded by MCI/USAID, targets IDP families in especially vulnerable regions, as determined by the prior nutritional survey, in order to provide them with practical, easily understood information concerning the nutrition content of certain food types and the nutritional needs of their families. The first brochure focused on the nutritional content and recipe ideas for the WFP distributed food commodities, while the second will focus on nutrition for pregnant women and breastfeeding.

3. Income Generation

The Azerbaijan Enterprise Fund 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, Gazakh and Baku. In May and June, $160,850 in loans have been disbursed, with an average loan size of $559. An additional 288 AZEF-supported businesses have been created or expanded, with 45% representing women-owned businesses. AZEF currently has 935 active loan clients. Since its inception, AZEF has lent out over $988,000, to start or expand a total of 2,674 businesses.

The number of problematic/delinquent clients in Baku have declined through increased visitation and technical support by AZEF Business Advisors. Business Advisors have increased the number of monthly visits to clients, assisted clients where required with issues of bookkeeping, marketing techniques and cash flow, and problematic clients have responded to these efforts with increased repayments. Building on the good relationships WV enjoys with local authorities throughout the country, WV has also enlisted the assistance of local Executive Committees in pursuing problematic clients. In letters to the Deputy Prime Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, and each local Executive Committee, WV states clearly that a successful loan program requires the periodic assistance and support of local authorities, and should this support be not forthcoming when requested, AZEF will suspend loans to potential clients of that region/city. The Deputy Prime Minister has been very supportive.

More AZEF clients have been requesting repeat loans, especially during the summer months. Confectioners and shopkeepers have requested loans for ice cream production during the summer months. These clients already possess most of the equipment needed for ice cream production, but need some new machines and large quantities of ingredients. Six clients have requested larger loans for all needed equipment and ingredients for ice cream production, so they may sell and distribute their product throughout the regions in which they live. Leather producers are already gearing up for the fall and winter months, when the demand for leather jackets and products, in Azerbaijan and throughout the former Soviet Union, is greatest. These producers require loans for large amounts of material for the jackets, so the majority of needed coats can be produced before the selling season. Additionally, many new clients are requesting small loans for trade stands or shops during the summer, where the demand for drinks and soda increases.

AZEF Project Manager, Louise Gleeson, and Regional Manager, Gulya Humbatova, recently attended a World Vision regional conference on MED programs in Sarajevo, Bosnia. In attendance were representatives from programs in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Bosnia, and Romania. With large credit and training programs in each of the attending countries, the conference focused on procedures and standards within the individual programs, to see to what extent standardization among the regional MED programs is possible.

4. Horadiz Pilot Income Generation Program

The program in Horadiz, in concert with UNDP and the Government of Azerbaijan, is underway. While the final contracts have yet to be signed by both parties, a verbal agreement among all parties has allowed WV to begin organizing and staffing the microenterprise program. Office and living quarters have been secured, and potential staff screened and interviewed. With $630,000 in loan capital, the Horadiz microenterprise program will focus on both micro and small businesses for existing residents and returning IDPs. Additionally, credit and technical support will be available for those potential clients wishing to begin or reopen Horadiz’s medium-scale businesses, in order to generate employment for a larger number of IDPs and residents. This project is unique in many respects: one, that it is targeting returnees in the liberated areas, two, it is the first time the Government of Azerbaijan has contracted with an international NGO to implement a program., and three, it is the first time that AZEF will target medium-scale enterprises with loans of up to $10,000.

5. Community Shelter Rehabilitation Project (CSRP)

CSRP is completing work on the first five new public buildings in Sumgait under the recently awarded Mercy Corps Intl/USAID grant. The IDP residents of these public buildings, having witnessed the transformation of other WV buildings in Sumgait, are eager to participate in World Vision’s programs. As such, they have enthusiastically responded to the community initiatives required by the program, including the creation of a community group to oversee the work and to liaise with WV engineers and community workers. This Shelter Working Groups forms the basis for all additional community initiatives in CSRP, including the identification and training of four IDP craftsmen from the building, public health education, and the identification of IDP schools for possible inclusion in WV’s Sponsor A School program. With the work at these five buildings nearing completion, site selection and survey and community mobilization for the next four buildings has begun.

The residents of the large public buildings, previously dormitories planned for housing an individual worker or student per room, rather than the six to eight IDP family members which now inhabit the rooms, are from such areas as Lachin, Gubadly, and Jabrayil, areas in the heart of contested Nagorno Karabakh region. These families have lived in the horrible conditions of these buildings since 1992, and even today, have little hope of returning to their homes in the near future. Each building houses approximately 70-80 IDP families, each with five to seven family members. However, World Vision’s CSRP has vastly improved their prior living conditions, and more importantly, developed in these communities the tools for identifying and addressing collective problems together, rather than letting the problems go unaddressed while waiting for government assistance which isn’t forthcoming.

6. Sponsor A School Program

World Vision Azerbaijan’s Sponsor a School program (SAS) has completed reconstruction work on the Autoschool in Sumgait, home to 450 IDP students and teachers. Supported by the WVI Employee Campaign, SAS focuses on IDP schools in the communities in which we work, to effect a holistic impact in the lives of IDP children.

The two main priorities were for the renewal of the electrical system and the rehabilitation of the children’s toilet areas on each level. Once completed, workers moved on to general classroom work, such as window repairs, loose plaster repairs, etc. All repair work is being completed during the summer when the children are on holiday.

One additional school has been identified for rehabilitated under the current SAS program funding. The Lachin School #12 is home to 102 IDP students from Lachin, and 20 IDP teachers. The school will require extensive electrical supply, water system and general classroom work, and work will begin in July. Initial meetings with the school Director and teachers have shown that all are enthusiastic and desire to be involved in the School Working Group, modeled after the community groups in the shelter program.

In addition to structural repairs, each school classroom will be outfitted with new or repaired desks, blackboards, space heaters and sports equipment. Each child will also receive a new backpack filled with school supplies. WVUS is providing GIK paint and brushes/rollers so the schools and classrooms may be freshly painted by the time the children return to school in the fall. World Vision staff have identified over 35 IDP schools in Sumgait and Baku in need of sponsorship. Three have been supported since the beginning of the program in February.

7. New Staff

Tina Monson has joined WV Azerbaijan’s staff as Project Manager for the Horadiz microenterprise program. Tina, an American citizen, brings with her extensive experience in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Following her graduation from Middlebury College with a degree in Russian and Eastern European Studies, during which time she spent a year studying in Russia, Tina spent one year in Belarus working with the International Finance Corporation. Before coming to WV, Tina worked for the National Democratic Institute in Washington DC and Baku, building the capacity of local political parties and NGO’s to organize at the grassroots level and run political/advocacy campaigns. Tina is fluent in Russian, and brings with her a detailed knowledge of the country, language and potential obstacles in implementing a challenging, high-profile project in the newly-liberated areas.

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