Access to Education in Rural Morocco

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Donor: Big Lottery Fund
 
The Near East Foundation UK (NEF-UK) and its Morocco-based partners, NEF Morocco and Tichka Association aim to improve access to and quality of primary education for poor girls and boys in 14 villages in the Ouarzazate Province of southern-central Morocco. Building on a successful model piloted by NEF Morocco, we will achieve this by strengthening parent-teacher associations, designing child-led extra-curricular activities, and engaging disadvantaged parents to send their children regularly to school and enroll children who would not otherwise enroll.
 
The project will work in partnership with 6 “mother” school villages and 8 “satellite” school villages; targeting approximately 1,550 primary school-aged children (1st through 6th grades) — 10 per cent estimated not to be attending schools. Selected project activities will engage a further 10 “satellite” schools; supporting additional 550 primary school-aged children.

In total, about 2,100 primary school-aged children will benefit from improved access to a quality primary education. The project will increase children’s enrolment among children that are not attending schools, reduce dropouts and increase attendance among children at risk of dropouts or those not attending schools regularly, and increase parental engagement leading to higher performance in education among school children.

 We will build the skills of PTAs at 14 primary schools to engage in civic processes, consensus building and group processes with school management and other actors; and to develop fundraising, administrative and financial management, and communication plans that are supportive of quality and accessibility of primary education for 2,100 school-aged children. We will also increase by 70 per cent the level of understanding of rural cultural environment among teachers and SMBs linked to teachers’ absenteeism. We will improve by 50 per cent the representation of women and disadvantaged families at PTAs. We will also enable PTAs at 14 primary schools to start and sustain social businesses that can generate social and income returns used to support school improvements and to tackle barriers to education benefiting 1,550 primary school-aged children.
 
We will facilitate the formation of 14 women-led groups or associations led by at least 28 women leaders. We will build their skills to be able to tackle root causes of non-attendance, increase primary school attendance, address social norms and traditions, reduce child labour and promote the recognition of the value of education, especially for girls. We will enable disadvantaged families and other community members to engage in 34 school-hosted community engagement events that can help close the psychological and social gap between the school and the community and reconnect schools with their socio-cultural environment. Sixty per cent of community members will experience tangible change through increased skills, understanding and platforms to engage in inclusive discourse and develop plans to address barriers constraining school-aged children to attend primary schools. We will also facilitate 14 cross-disciplinary joint actions, 3 exchange visits, 2 roundtables and 1 learning paper in project areas to engage in inclusive discourse on the root causes of non-attendance and dropouts at 24 primary schools and overall primary education in rural Morocco.
 
This model has a high potential for replication and presents an added value for joint action.

 

Advancing Women’s Businesses in the Palestinian Territories

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Donor: Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, Trafigura Foundation
Background
This initiative focuses on the “missing middle” of women entrepreneurs – women who can act as drivers of development – creating jobs, revitalising their economies, and realising their full potential as agents of social change. Project activities are designed to help overcome barriers to women’s entrepreneurship, including lack of financial services for women entrepreneurs and a need for training and to increase market.
Impact
In 2013, NEF-UK began implementing a three-year project to empower and support 200 women entrepreneurs as they grow profitable and sustainable businesses in southern Palestine.
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    Advancing Gender Equality and the Rights of Survivors of Gender-Based Violence in Armenia
     
    Active: 2014 – Present
     
    Donor: European Union under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR)
    Background
    The Advancing Gender Equality and the Rights of Survivors of Gender-Based Violence in Armenia project will be implemented in Yerevan, Syunik Province, and the Lori Province to improve protection, gender equality, agency, and economic independence for women survivors of gender-based violence. The project will work with four civil society organisations to engage the public in dialogue, training around norms, safe workspaces, and protection strategies linked to economic opportunities. The total value of the project is EUR 342,711. The project is due to be completed by 20 January 2017.
    Impact
    Over a two-year period, the project will help 200 gender-based violence survivors gain increased employability, small business skills, and safe access to economic opportunities. Sixty women will be offered tailored vocational training with accredited certificated, 120 will receive targeted business and financial support to start their own micro-businesses, and 80 will be offered tailored employment development support. The project aims to increase confidence and self-reliance amongst survivors, so that women can make and shape the choices that affect their lives. The project will increase the capacity of four civil society organisations to analyse gender-based violence risks linked to safe economic opportunities; facilitate spaces, networks, joint actions and conversations about gender-based violence risks and gender equality; and deliver tailored economic development programmes for gender-based violence survivors.
    Background
    The Advancing Gender Equality and the Rights of Survivors of Gender-Based Violence in Armenia project will be implemented in Yerevan, Syunik Province, and the Lori Province to improve protection, gender equality, agency, and economic independence for women survivors of gender-based violence. The project will work with four civil society organisations to engage the public in dialogue, training around norms, safe workspaces, and protection strategies linked to economic opportunities. The total value of the project is EUR 342,711. The project is due to be completed by 20 January 2017.
    Impact
    Over a two-year period, the project will help 200 gender-based violence survivors gain increased employability, small business skills, and safe access to economic opportunities. Sixty women will be offered tailored vocational training with accredited certificated, 120 will receive targeted business and financial support to start their own micro-businesses, and 80 will be offered tailored employment development support. The project aims to increase confidence and self-reliance amongst survivors, so that women can make and shape the choices that affect their lives. The project will increase the capacity of four civil society organisations to analyse gender-based violence risks linked to safe economic opportunities; facilitate spaces, networks, joint actions and conversations about gender-based violence risks and gender equality; and deliver tailored economic development programmes for gender-based violence survivors.

Advancing Gender Equality and the Rights of Survivors of Gender-Based Violence in Armenia

IMG_0303Active: 2014 – Present
 
Donor: European Union under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) &nbsp thumbnail
Background
The Advancing Gender Equality and the Rights of Survivors of Gender-Based Violence in Armenia project will be implemented in Yerevan, Syunik Province, and the Lori Province to improve protection, gender equality, agency, and economic independence for women survivors of gender-based violence. The project will work with four civil society organisations to engage the public in dialogue, training around norms, safe workspaces, and protection strategies linked to economic opportunities. The total value of the project is EUR 342,711. The project is due to be completed by 20 January 2017.
Impact
Over a two-year period, the project will help 200 gender-based violence survivors gain increased employability, small business skills, and safe access to economic opportunities. Sixty women will be offered tailored vocational training with accredited certificated, 120 will receive targeted business and financial support to start their own micro-businesses, and 80 will be offered tailored employment development support. The project aims to increase confidence and self-reliance amongst survivors, so that women can make and shape the choices that affect their lives. The project will increase the capacity of four civil society organisations to analyse gender-based violence risks linked to safe economic opportunities; facilitate spaces, networks, joint actions and conversations about gender-based violence risks and gender equality; and deliver tailored economic development programmes for gender-based violence survivors.

NEF Launches Traveling Exhibition

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In honor of the Centennial of the organization’s founding and of the Armenian Genocide, NEF has created a 27-panel traveling exhibition.

They Shall Not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief features high quality reproductions of photographs and documents from the NEF archival collection. The exhibition chronicles the launch and legacy of Near East Relief (known as the Near East Foundation since 1930), which was founded in direct response to reports of genocidal acts against Armenians and other minorities in the Ottoman Empire in 1915. The organization raised more than $110 million through grassroots campaigns, saving more than 1 million lives and caring for 132,000 orphans over fifteen years.

Ina from Korombana, Mopti

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Ina Ouro Dicko lives and works in the rural municipality of Korombana in the Mopti region of Mali. With a sick husband and two children to feed, she had to find a job to support her family. As part of the Program to Support Food Security and the Resilience of Populations to Social and Climate Crises in the region of Mopti (PASARC), which is funded by the Dutch Embassy in Mali and implemented by the Near East Foundation (NEF), Ina became involved in the Sabaly Cooperative of Korientzé, which works in agriculture and livestock farming in the municipality of Korombana.

PASARC has supported the Sabaly Cooperative, which includes 24 women who work in rice production, by developing an irrigated perimeter of 6 hectares equipped with a motor pump. Before becoming involved in the cooperative, most of the women had no source of income and little opportunity to participate in rice production because men traditionally dominate the field. In 2012, with support from PASARC, the women came together in Korombana to start their own rice production, each cultivating a farming area of ​​2,500 square meters, with a total output of 24,500 kg in the first season. As a result, many of the women are now financially independent.

When Ina asked to join the cooperative, some of the women were skeptical because of her inexperience in the field, and they questioned her ability to handle the hard work. But now they are all proud of Ina because she was the only woman to produce 1,900 kg of rice last season. Of the 19 bags harvested, she sold five to pay her water bills, gave one bag to charity, and used half a bag for canoe transport costs. She kept the remaining sacks in reserve to feed her family for the rest of the year. At home, she is considered the head of the household. “I’m so grateful for the PASARC project, because now I don’t have to worry about feeding my family this year,” Ina says.

The PASARC project has improved the quality and quantity of food for participants’ families, boosted the women’s incomes, built cohesion among the women, increased their authority over rice production, and strengthened their financial independence. The women also reported that men in the community have more respect for them because of what they are able to harvest to support their families. Equally important, the women have become more resilient to any unexpected hardships they may face in the future.

 

NEF Launches Morocco Youth Empowerment Project

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The Near East Foundation recently held two workshops to launch the Empowering Youth through Entrepreneurship in Morocco (EYEM) project, which addresses high youth unemployment and engages young people in becoming drivers of regional economic and enterprise development. The $1.9 million project, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) and implemented in partnership with the Moroccan Association for the Support and Promotion of Small Businesses and the Moroccan Social Solidarity Economy Network, will build upon NEF’s long-standing work with existing youth associations to leverage and bridge critical resources in the region.

The EYEM project will work with 400 young men and women, between the ages of 18 to 30, to develop the skills necessary to start, maintain, and grow 250 small businesses in four communes. The project will help to redefine prevailing cultural and social barriers facing female entrepreneurs.

The launch workshops, held in El Jadida and Safi in March 2015, brought together more than 130 individuals, including project and local partners, and representatives from the communes, the Regional Center for Investment, the National Agency for the Promotion of Employment and Skills, the Office of Vocational Training and Employment Promotion, various ministries and government institutions, local universities and academic institutions, and civil society and youth organizations. Joseph Essex, Regional Democracy and Governance Coordinator for MEPI, participated in the El Jadida workshop, where he had an opportunity to interact with the youth councils and meet with EYEM partners.

Through NEF’s work on the youth component of USAID’s Local Governance Program (LGP) from 2010 to 2014, dialogue between youth and their elected officials in Morocco increased and local youth councils were established to facilitate and promote dialogue between youth and the government in 10 communes.

In supporting local youth councils in El Jadida, Moulay Abdellah, Jemaat Sehaim, and Safi, the EYEM project will advance the LGP project’s efforts to address youth unemployment—one of the most common concerns in Morocco—by providing entrepreneurial training, forming support networks, and promoting social enterprises in areas where youth unemployment is highest.

Expanding Horizons for Women in the West Bank

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Jawaher Bani Shamsi is a farmer who has been working on the land in and around Nablus, the West Bank, since she was a child. Before receiving assistance from the Palestinian Women’s Microenterprise Development project (PWMD), a joint initiative of the Rangoonwala Foundation and the Near East Foundation (NEF), she owned two sheep and depended primarily on the produce from her backyard garden to support her husband and 10 children. The PWMD project has equipped Jawaher, and 200 other women’s association members, with the skills and resources they needed to launch small agricultural microenterprises. So far, the women have established 150 businesses and contributed 300 new jobs to the West Bank economy.

With support from NEF, Jawaher has been able to expand her homegrown production to include a three-acre yield, and she has even introduced ecofriendly measures that help increase the sustainability of her microenterprise by using her own organic fertilizer. Moreover, for irrigation purposes, she collects rainwater via a pipe system on the roof of her house to provide water for her crops and animals.

During the off-season, Jawaher supplements her business by selling dried or frozen vegetables, making her less dependent on the sale of fresh farm produce and giving her greater flexibility regarding her income generating capabilities. And her prosperity continues to grow! A year after launching her microenterprise, Jawaher’s profits have enabled her to lease an additional two acres of land and diversify her crops by planting several new types of vegetables. She also plans on investing in poultry farming.

Jawaher’s dedication to fair prices and high quality products has won her a loyal client base from among her neighbors, extended family, and community at large. Her hard work, coupled with support from NEF’s PWMD project, have allowed Jawaher to take her economic wellbeing into her own hands, providing sustenance for her family and inspiration for local women in and around Nablus and the West Bank.

Zeinab of Zarqa

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Zeinab of Zarqa, Jordan, has endured more than her share of hardship. A woman in her mid-50s, she looks much older than her years because she bears sole responsibility for her family, two of whom are in poor health. Her husband suffers from heart disease and her 24 year-old son has cancer. Not long ago, Zeinab wasn’t even able to cook hard-boiled eggs for her sons because broken eggs are so much cheaper to buy. But now, she says, thanks to the Near East Foundation’s Enhancing Economic Resilience for Poor Iraqis and Jordanians (EER) project, she is more than able to cook hard-boiled eggs for her family.

Five years ago, Zeinab began work as a cook in a local charity. Unfortunately, this work was based on customers’ orders and did not provide adequate income to meet all of her family’s needs. And as caregiver for her husband and son, she needed to be close to them at all times. So, she stopped working despite needing income to feed her family. Then Zeinab heard about the EER project and decided to attend training courses. “I learned new information and gained new skills about the market and how to calculate costs,” she says. “Additionally, the training helped me overcome the feeling of shame I was suffering from.”

With the financial support provided by NEF, Zeinab purchased the equipment needed to begin producing homemade dishes, cooked meals, preserved pickles, and sweets. Soon her son and husband began pitching in to help bake and package the meals, as well as offering her encouragement. Day by day Zeinab’s customer base grew, and it has now reached more than 400 clients from different areas in the Zarqa governorate and even the capital, Amman. Her income also has increased, with an estimated monthly profit of USD 700. Zeinab says her self-confidence has increased along with her income and feels that she, and her family, have been given a new life—she even bought a television and painted the house! “I highly appreciate the NEF support,” she says. Without this support, I wouldn’t be able to achieve my dreams.”

Food Vouchers Help Small Entrepreneurs Recover in Crisis-stricken Northern Mali

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The city of Douentza was hit hard by the 2012 violence in Northern Mali. The Jihadist occupation of the city brought local economic activities to a halt. Markets closed, the flow of goods stopped, and women couldn’t participate in economic development in many places.

Many micro-entrepreneurs, especially women, lost their main source of income and, with it, their ability to support their families. With support from NEF, USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and Food for Peace (FFP) office, many local small-business owners have gradually been rebuilding the their livelihoods.

One of those helped is Trissa Cissé, a cake vendor in Douentza-Gao. After the 2012 crisis Trissa lost her husband, her mother, and her business. She was unable to support herself and her seven children.

Another, Hamadoun Tamboura, a tailor in the Douentza market, had been able to earn a good living before the crisis. His shop allowed him to support his family, despite his disability. He earned an average of 45,000 CFA francs per week and employed two apprentices. During the unrest, he lost most of his customers from neighboring villages. Despite using all his savings and stock to purchase food, he was left unable to feed his extended family of 17.

“Being at home was unbearable,” says Hamadoun. “The children complained of hunger. I wasn’t sleeping at night. What would become of us once we emptied our millet stock or if the food prices increases?”

As part of NEF’s project in Douentza, Trissa and Hamadoun receiving food vouchers. The vouchers allowed them to invest money that would otherwise be spent on food into their businesses–allowing them to rebuild their livelihood.

With the help of NEF OFDA, and FFP, Trissa has been able to re-launch her business. She now serves rice cakes, beef soup, and juice at the Douentza market. Money from her business has also allowed her to purchase two goats, a rooster, and two hens with her savings. In total, she now owns four goats and a dozen chickens, which she hopes will improve her family’s economic situation.

“NEF’s support allowed me to regain hope and meet my family’s basic needs,” says Trissa.

At the end of the crisis, a few customers returned to Hamadoun’s shop–but not enough to support his family. NEF’s vouchers allowed him to plant a 1-hectare field where he now harvests 1.7 tons of millet.

In partnerhsip with the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and Food for Peace, NEF has helped more than 3,000 micro-entrepreneurs rebuild their livelihoods and ensure food security in northern Mali.

NEF Welcomes Ian Bremmer to President’s Council

New York, NY (April 16, 2014) — The Near East Foundation (NEF) is pleased to announce that Ian Bremmer, distinguished political scientist and author, has joined its President’s Council.

“The Near East Foundation represents a spirit and commitment to political stability and economic well-being needed now more than ever in the world,” said Mr. Bremmer. “I’m honored to join the President’s Council and support NEF’s critical efforts.”

Mr. Bremmer is Founder and President of Eurasia Group, the leading global political risk research and consulting firm. His firm provides financial, corporate, and government clients with information and insight on how political developments move markets.

As a member of the President’s Council, he joins other diplomatic and global leaders who provide strategic guidance for NEF’s economic development and participatory governance efforts throughout the Middle East and Africa.

“Ian is one of the world’s foremost experts on global issues, and we are very grateful that his strategic insights will help inform our work to reduce poverty and build cooperation throughout the region,” said Shant Mardirossian, Chair of NEF’s Board of Directors.

Mr. Bremmer created Wall Street’s first global political risk index and has authored several books, including the national bestseller, Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World. He is a columnist for the Financial Times, Reuters and Politico Magazine, and is frequent contributor to numerous other print and television media outlets.

He holds a PhD in political science from Stanford University and was the youngest-ever national fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is a global research professor at New York University, and has held faculty positions at Columbia University, the EastWest Institute and the World Policy Institute.

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Eurasia Group is the world’s leading global political risk research and consulting firm. By providing information and insight on how political developments move markets, we help clients anticipate and respond to instability and opportunities everywhere they do business. Founded in 1998, the firm’s name reveals its early focus on the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, but today our research platform is global. Our analysts monitor political, economic, social, and security developments in Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and North America. Headquartered in New York, we have offices in Washington, D.C. and London, as well as on-the-ground experts and resources in more than 100 countries. Our analysts are highly trained political scientists with extensive experience in the public and private sectors. To learn more visit eurasiagroup.net

The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international NGO leading innovative social and economic development in the Middle East and Africa since 1915. For nearly 100 years, NEF has worked to empower citizens in disadvantaged, vulnerable communities. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to find grassroots solutions to their development challenges. NEF’s “knowledge, voice, and enterprise” approach is helping build more prosperous, inclusive communities throughout the region. To learn more visit www.neareast.org