7 May 2013
A monitoring visit was conducted in the 7 ha forest which was established in Chambarak in 2012. The project was realised at the initiative of the "Council of Deceased Soldiers' Mothers and Wives" local NGO and Shen NGO and funded by the UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme. The delegation comprised of the representatives of the donor organisation expressed its satisfaction with the successful implementation and sustainability of the project. Today we can state with confidence that in a few years there will be a wonderful forest of 7 hectares in Chambarak.
Community Development and Social Projects
Updated on 15 April, 2013
First activity as a newly established NGO was construction of 17 houses in Stepanakert, Nagorno Karabagh, for refugee Armenians who had narrowly escaped massacre in the Azeri city of Sumgait in 1988.
Economic crisis that followed the collapse of the soviet system, resulted in impoverishment of many communities. With the financial support of Chene-France, IFAD, World Council of Churches, WCC Armenia Round Table Foundation, Christian Aid, EED, ICCO, EPER, FAO, Oxfam Novib, UNDP, USDA, USAID and other EU and USA donor organisations, we carried out about 350 community projects throughout Armenia, with special focus on the North - Western earthquake stricken areas, villages populated by refuges and remote rural communities.
Integrated Community Development Model
Integrated Community Development (ICD) of a vulnerable community or a group of communities is integration and systemized solution of social, economic, environmental, spiritual issues and imperatives. The inception phase starts with Participatory Rural Appraisal which is carried out with the direct involvement of the whole community. This is followed by convening a General Meeting of the community where a Community Action Group (CAG) is elected. Further, CAG jointly with Shen representatives get down to the development of Community Strategic Plan. This is a critical process which eventually becomes the cornerstone of the community's self-reliance. Implementation of ICD model allows substantial involvement of community members in all planned activities, using the capacity of both the community and the NGO effectively to fulfill the planned projects even in the event of economic crisis.
Shen NGO adopted the ICD model in 2001 which has produced some outstanding results in the past decade. Through the wide implementation of ICD model in target communities selected according to own poverty criteria, Shen has recorded major achievements. The projects implemented in the villages Lusakn (Aragatsotn marz), Argina and Shenik (Baghramyan region, Armavir marz), Yeghnajur (Shirak marz), Aragats (Aragatsotn marz) (Community Development Plan, 2005 and Progress Report, 2006), Pambak (Gegharkunik marz) (Evaluation Report, 2012) during the last period show that application of this approach allows utilization of available resources effectively to achieve sustainability for the welfare of the community. The programs implemented in the aforementioned communities included at least 20% community contribution component.
Most importantly, the application of ICD approach guided the beneficiary communities in the transition from being passive recipients of a service to empowerment and capacity building. After a period of participation, collaborative planning and decision-making the communities get equipped and prepared for the maintenance, sustainability and internal monitoring of the accomplished work. It is of fundamental importance for Shen that these communities have become a model for the neighboring villages.
As a result of the project implemented in Aragats Shen NGO in collaboration with the UN FAO developed a draft of Strategy for the sustainable development of mountainous regions of Armenia which was presented to the Government in 2006. Another ICD program with sustainable economic impact is underway in Koti village (Tavush marz) (Strategic Development Plan, 2011), where irrigation water for homestead orchards is already available (Follow-up Report, 2012), access to drinking water is being improved, and other projects of community importance are halfway.
Recently, Shen has initiated a new series of projects that put main emphasis on income generation of rural households through community mobilisation. Specifically, Shen facilitates organisation and development of agriculture cooperatives with the aim of mobilising community members to identify common agriculture problems and find consolidated solutions for the latter. Cooperative development is considered to be an important part of integrated community development model. As a first step, Shen promotes creation of simplest community based entities-non for profit cooperatives.
In 2010-2011, as a response to the global economic crisis, the USAID Mission in Armenia has partnered with CHF International, in association with Shen NGO, to implement the 4.5 million USD Small Scale Infrastructure Program (SSIP).The program's objective was to provide emergency employment opportunities through small-scale, labor-intensive infrastructure projects in close collaboration with the Government of Armenia and local organizations and communities. SSIP focused on vulnerable rural communities of Armenia to increase employment through mechanisms focused on leveraging donor resources, maximizing labor content and harmonizing with national development efforts.
1. Rehabilitated 58 critical social infrastructures
2. Generated 79,607 person days of employment
3. Employed 932 for short term employment
4. Enabled long term employment for 121 people
5. Benefited 68,183 vulnerable residents
Constructed community centers in Daranak, Nor Yedesia, Torfavan and Avazan.
Wherever we go, the first thing we do is mobilizing the communities, helping them to get organized; support potential leaders by providing them relevant knowledge and information. The CAG's take an active role in participatory needs assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation of the projects as well as their further maintanance and operation. Some of the vibrant CAG's become the basis for CBO's- community based Foundations.
Renovated kindergartens in Sevkar and Vahan
Shen thinks it important to take care of recreation and education of children from poor families. Since 1999, we established a Children's Recreation Center in Yeghnajour, Shirak marz, that we aim to turn into a summer camp for Armenian children from all over the world. Every year 150 beneficiary children from suburbs of Gyumri and other cities of Shirak marz enjoy fresh air, food and the pleasure of working in the farm. The school building was reconstructed to host the children.
Renovated school building and recreation center in Yeghnajoor.
The youth in many communities has only seasonal work. In order to make healthy and effective use of their spare time Shen builds and renovates village gyms and athletic arenas. As our experience shows this activity changes drastically the whole life of the villages. Another argument in favor of development of gyms and athletic arenas in rural areas is that school children do not have any sport facilities and therefore are deprived of elementary possibilities to enjoy their life. In the communities where Shen develops sport facilities we see positive changes in the mentality of school children. There are students in the beneficiary villages of Argina, Qaraberd and Ptghavan who have already reached outstanding achievements on a national scale.
The schoolchildren of Karaberd, Qeti, Malishka and Marmashen enjoy their newly renovated gyms.
Drinking water is one of the most acute problems of Armenia due to several reasons, one of them being deterioration of the pipelines. Old rusty tubes leak, and the precious spring water does not reach people. Rehabilitating the pipelines and stopping the wastes is one of main directions of Shen's activity.
Drinking water system in Artsni and Pambak. Newly constructed bridge in Ttudjur.
After the earthquake, former Soviet countries stretched out a helping hand to people who suffered. But often, in haste, they omitted some parts or neglected quality of their constructions. In the first two pictures you can see the missing sewage pipes in the trench in the central part of Jajur, the native village of prominant artist Minas Avetissyan in Shirak region and the completed project.
Construction or rehabilitation of rural medical aid posts and equipping them, as well as providing necessery training to nurses has always been the priority.
In 2011 the "Glasses for Armenia" project was initiated and implemented by the French-Armenian Medical Union and with the support of Shen NGO. The beneficiaries of the project were the residents of ten villages in Aragatsotn Marz who are served by the medical ambulatory of village Nerkin Bazmaberd, also, the 15 villages served by the Medical Center of town Talin and the residents of town Talin. The group of French-American doctors that comprised of ophthalmologists initially organized training courses for nurses of Nerkin Bazmaberd and surrounding villages, Talin and surrounding villages, so that they are able to examine and find those who have visual problems among schoolchildren. Thus, initially diagnosed 263 children were examined again and for 225 children glasses were made and provided on the spot. The project did not overlook adults either and 1394 of them were provided with free glasses.