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5 Development Projects in Azerbaijan

Over the past two decades, Azerbaijan has transitioned from a struggling young democracy to a major powerhouse in the South Caucasus region. This transition was precipitated largely by capitalizing on increased revenues from oil and natural gas. That being said, poverty is still an issue in Azerbaijan.

Fortunately, there are a number of development projects in Azerbaijan that are currently underway and promise to improve circumstances for many Azerbaijanis. Here is a look at five of them, some completed and some still underway.

  1. Highway Three
    Many development projects in Azerbaijan have focused on infrastructure. However, not all of this new infrastructure has been accessible to all Azerbaijanis. Highway Three and projects like it, which are being financed in part by the World Bank, aim to rectify this gap by creating a fledgling interstate system that better connects all parts of the country.
    Highway Three is notable because, in addition to connecting two of Azerbaijan’s largest cities, the highway and its offshoots will also serve rural areas. The project is being done in conjunction with efforts to modernize Azerbaijan’s existing highways and bring them up to international standards.
  2. A new medical clinic in Kamalli
    Working together with the Azerbaijani government, USAID has just finished helping to replace an aging one-room clinic with a more spacious and better-equipped facility in the rural community of Kamalli. The clinic opened in October 2017, and is expected to serve over 2,000 people from Kamalli and other neighboring communities in the rural province of Saatli. Similar development projects in Azerbaijan in recent years have made a significant dent in morbidity and mortality rates.
  3. Water supply improvements in Shahsevan-Tazakend
    Also in October, residents of Shahsevan-Tazakend, with the assistance of the Azerbaijani government and USAID, installed almost a kilometer of new pipes and two new water storage tanks. These new installations are meant to alleviate the repeated chronic water shortages that this area has been experiencing in recent years, in addition to eliminating the need to walk long distances to collect water each day for the 800 members of this community. This project is typical of the numerous other development projects in Azerbaijan that have helped to improve living conditions for over 150,000 people.
  4. A new agrobiodiversity preservation project
    In February 2017, Azerbaijan and the UNDP launched a new initiative focused on preserving Azerbaijan’s agrobiodiversity as a part of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. The project will run for five years and will target the regions of Shaki, Goranboy and Goychay.
    The Azerbaijani government spearheaded the design of the project, which will receive support from the U.N. and focuses on protecting native crops and encouraging their use in commercial farming. The project also aims to promote research and development on native crops and increase market access for small farmers who grow native crops.
    Like many other development projects in Azerbaijan, this was designed with an eye on the future and hopes to promote resilience and productivity in agriculture in the face of climate change, as Azerbaijan also works to reduce its dependence on oil and natural gas as a revenue source.
  5. The National Innovation Contest
    The U.N. sponsored a contest for young scientists and entrepreneurs to put forth their best ideas for helping Azerbaijan accelerate its progress toward meeting the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. The ideas may potentially be used to inspire future development projects in Azerbaijan.
    This is the latest in a series of efforts to support research and development for similar concepts. The awards for the contest were presented in a ceremony on December 21, 2017. The winners included projects focusing on improving credit access and access to the legal system, as well as projects focused on alternative fuel sources.

In addition to major improvements in quality of life and major reductions in poverty, these development projects in Azerbaijan all promise to help the country transition to a greener economy and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels as a revenue source. In doing so, these projects will also improve the health outcomes for all Azerbaijani people and help more citizens make a living in sustainable ways. These projects make Azerbaijan an excellent example of how supporting sustainability efforts can also improve health and help to diversify a growing economy.

– Michaela Downey

Photo: Flickr

 Burkina Faso

The government has made significant improvements to the infrastructure in Burkina Faso, particularly in the water sanitation and supply sector. The government is working hard to ensure that there is better access to safe drinking water, piped water into homes and improved health for the people living in the West African nation.

In past years, people in Burkina Faso went without sustainable water, even though the country is near the Volta River Basin and Niger River Delta. In fact, both of these rivers have proven to be unreliable to Burkina Faso, as they begin to dry out during certain seasons. In addition to the seasonal rivers, the country experiences common droughts throughout the year. With these geographic disadvantages, water became scarce for over 18 million citizens of the country, and water sanitation became an issue.

Fortunately, the infrastructure in Burkina Faso has improved drastically from the past. Over a span of twelve years, drinking water sustainability increased from 54 percent to 90 percent. For the Burkinabé living there, this improvement in drinking water sustainability means that the chances of having better living conditions and health are much higher.

The urban areas of Burkina Faso seem to be improving because of the technological resources that are being made available to the people living there. Yet, the same cannot be said for those who live in the poor rural areas of the country. More than half of the rural population still lives without usable water.

One of the main reasons why the infrastructure in Burkina Faso has issues with water sanitation and supply is because there is a lack of information provided to people living in rural areas. According to UNICEF, 50 percent of Burkinabé still practice open defecation, as they are not aware of the dangers of poor hygiene and see this practice as an everyday norm.

Another issue the country is having with improving water sanitation in rural areas is being able to increase access to technology while saving on funds. Without the proper budget, Burkina Faso must take into consideration the methods in which they plan to continue to help their citizens get better access to water supply and sanitation. This has changed with the assistance of the World Bank, which has mobilized $226 million over the past 20 years for Burkina Faso’s sanitation development. More than 440,000 people, including those in rural areas, have gained access to better water supply and sanitation, thus improving living conditions.

The people of Burkina Faso can hold their heads high knowing that their government is working hard with organizations such as the World Bank, UNICEF, and Wateraid to ensure that conditions continually improve over the next couple of years.

– Seriah Sargenton

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Benin

Home to almost 11 million people, the West African country of Benin has made great strides in improving access to clean water over the past three decades. The improved water quality in Benin is a leading example of how governments can work with foreign donors and local municipalities to increase water supply and quality to all citizens.

Beginning in the 1990s, the Beninese government expanded water coverage beyond the two largest cities to rural areas, decentralizing and adopting a strategy of responding to local demand in 1992. Rural water coverage in 2006 was at 53 percent and urban coverage at 78 percent, higher than the average for other African countries. Benin reached its 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of 76 percent access to improved drinking water nationwide.

New national water strategies announced in 2005, 2006 and 2007 devolved power over water and sanitation services to local municipalities. A national water utility named SONEB was established in 2007 to coordinate the water supply between the central government, international donors and local authorities.

These efforts attracted the support of foreign donors, with the World Bank pledging $68 million in 2016 to finance water and sanitation services in cities and small towns across Benin. The project will connect almost half a million people to the water network and improve sanitation for over 700,000, an important landmark in a country where water treatment is still severely underdeveloped.

Despite the success in expanding access, water quality in Benin requires further investments to bridge the gap between urban and rural communities. The World Bank project builds on a successful trial of public-private partnerships in three Beninese municipalities in 2014.

The Beninese government is now targeting the quality and treatment of drinking water. Wastewater treatment is not widely practiced in Benin, and authorities plan to establish a new regulatory agency to improve water hygiene and water services.

– Giacomo Tognini

Photo: Flickr

Help People in BarbadosBarbados, an independent British Commonwealth island nation, is the most flourishing country in the Caribbean area, with free education and accessible healthcare. However, there is still a need to help people in Barbados.

The country has made it a priority to provide efficient and accessible healthcare to include physical, mental, and social help. Because of this, such issues as infant and child mortality rates have decreased, and vaccines have greatly reduced preventable diseases. In addition, according to Commonwealth Health Online, there has been a decline in the AIDS fatality rate as well as an increase in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission.

Unfortunately, Barbados still struggles with the lack innovations in healthcare and patients’ growing expectations, as well as a failure to combat communicable and chronic non-communicable diseases, with HIV/AIDS as the exception. The government hopes to implement some changes, including supplying services in a more cost effective way, developing and integrating delivering services, and fulfilling unmet and vulnerable needs.

Concerning education, the Barbados government pays for schooling and provides compulsory primary school, from age five to eleven; compulsory secondary school, eleven to sixteen; and optional tertiary school, which is post-secondary education. But even with the seemingly sound educational system, some of the high standards have been declining over the past decade, due to negative attitudes from the students, poor academic performances, and the lack of technology to aid in the success of students.

To help people in Barbados regarding education, workshops have been developed to help teachers teach students better. The government has plans to help strengthen the technological infrastructure, to better teacher training, and to recognize teacher’s contributions to the nation-building actions.

While the health and education systems are taking strides to improve, there are still major issues in the country, such as the lack of space and inefficient land use. According to the 2010 National Environment Summary, there is the possible threat of land degradation and droughts. There is also inadequate waste management in Barbados

In addition, there is the insufficient reliability of freshwater. There are between 96-98 percent of homes connected to the public water supply, while the rest just have slight access. The ground water supply is deemed fair, providing disinfected water. But, the development of sewage treatment plants is necessary to finally dispose from homes via septic tanks.

To help people in Barbados dealing with land, drought, and water issues, the charities listed below are active on the island. Donations or volunteer work can directly assist those citizens who are most in need on Barbados.

Verdun House
Future Centre Trust
Caribbean Permaculture Research Institute
Variety the Children’s Charity

Chavez Spicer

Photo: Flickr

Water quality in Macedonia
A landlocked nation of mountains, lakes and historic buildings, the Republic of Macedonia is located on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe. Macedonia has the distinction of being among the few countries in the world of meeting the water access and sanitation needs for 100 percent of the urban population. In other words, everyone in its urban areas is provided with safe drinking water.

Water is used for electric power, agriculture, industrial and municipal purposes. There is no inexpensive substitute for this precious resource, so measures increasing water efficiency and reducing waste are desperately needed with the looming effects of climate change. According to the Green Growth study, by 2050, all water basins in Macedonia will see a decline in mean annual runoff despite having an increased water supply through 2020.

Increased temperatures mean greater evaporation of water from lakes and reservoirs, thus less water is available for general or industrial use. A World Bank study found that Macedonian crops are adapting to increased temperatures by demanding water a month earlier than they normally do. Additionally, water used for cooling purposes in the thermoelectric sector is greatly stressed, reducing its availability. By 2050, hydroelectric production is slated to sharply decline from about its current production levels of 1,500 gigawatt-hours to 1,100 gigawatt-hours.

Consistent with the international standards, Macedonia conducts tests on its waters for the presence of physical, chemical, biological and even radiological elements. Eighty percent of Macedonians have access to wastewater, yet only 10% of the sewage is treated with the rest being discharged into the three lakes and four river basins in the country. In these situations, water quality in Macedonia could use further improvements.

In 2014, the Woman Engage for a Common Future (WECF) Project devised Water and Sanitation Safety Plans to “encourage the population to promote local action for the improvement of water supply and sanitation systems.” This plan is to be done by engaging local residents, government officials, teachers, students, and the young of the rural populations of both Macedonia and Romania.

Problems remain, however. While 99% of Macedonian households have a central water supply system, an inadequate water infrastructure with aging water pipes has deteriorated the condition of the water supply system. This has had a disproportionate impact on both rural and urban areas: according to the U.N. Human Settlements Programme, 23% of residents do not have access to good water quality in Macedonia.

Of the water emerging from karst aquifers, 80% is inundated by rainfall runoff and surface water. In rural areas, additionally, usage of pit latrines is common and access to safe water sanitation is difficult if not unavailable.

In the past, the most frequent water-borne diseases found in the water supply facilities were diarrhea, intestinal typhus and paratiphuses, and infective hepatitis A. Water-related diseases with infective elements, such as leptospirosis and malaria, have also been found in epidemic, endemic and hyperendemic forms.

To efficiently preserve its water resources and promote its sustainable and safe use, Macedonia needs to invest in its current irrigation infrastructure, incorporate farmer training to minimize water losses, and find ways to prevent, detect and repair water system leaks.

Increasing water demands require greater public awareness of the limited resources and the state of water quality in Macedonia. Together with growing environmental protection, the level of public concern is also increasing. Macedonia is already one of the few countries in the world with very high access to safe drinking water. The country needs to maintain its commitment to improving safe drinking water access for all of its population by 2020.

Mohammed Khalid

Photo: Google

8 Facts About Water Supply in MoroccoIn Morocco, water supply and quality can be the deciding factor in the survival of a community. Today, 83 percent of Moroccans have access to improved drinking water, and 72 percent have access to improved sanitation. However, in a steadily growing population, the percentage of Moroccans lacking such access are faced with many challenges. Here are eight facts about water quality in Morocco.

8 Facts About Water Quality in Morocco

  1. In just half a century, Morocco’s population has more than tripled from 10 million to 32 million. Mass migrations have brought more than half the population to cities, giving rise to “tin cities,” or slums. These communities are located on the outskirts of urban areas, where access to clean water, electricity and sanitation services does not exist.
  2. The one-third of Moroccans without access to proper sanitation services are at high risk of waterborne diseases such as gastrointestinal infections, malaria and typhoid.
  3. Agriculture is responsible for 19 percent of Morocco’s GDP, but only 15 percent of agricultural land has access to irrigation. Due to a lack of sanitation services and inadequate wastewater treatment, the already scarce water resources for irrigation are often contaminated.
  4. Due to climate change, rainfall in Morocco is predicted to decline by as much as 50 percent by the year 2050, increasing the risk of droughts.
  5. Between 2004 and 2011, Morocco’s own Cities Without Slums urban development campaign created 100,000 new housing units in different parts of the country, providing 1.5 million people with access to water, power and sanitation.
  6. In 2016, USAID provided 336 Moroccan families with information on the best sanitation and hygiene practices. It also rehabilitated the retaining walls of a community’s water reservoir to prevent contamination.
  7. The same year, Moroccan farmers received irrigation advice for their crops from USAID through an SMS service, helping the country’s agrarian society achieve the greatest potential from limited resources.
  8. Also in 2016, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization teamed up with USAID to create a regional drought monitoring system that serves to maximize early warnings for droughts in North Africa and the Middle East.

While steps are being made toward a promising future, efforts of local and foreign aid to improve water quality in Morocco and strengthen resources must gain momentum in order to counter the effects of a growing population and a warming world.

Sophie Nunnally

Photo: Flickr

Bringing_Water_to_Thousands_of_Albanian_Villagers
Thanks to a new project designed to install new and improved water pumping stations throughout coastlines, Albanian villagers are enjoying improved community water sources and piped water for the first time.

The picturesque villages covering the Albanian countryside boast breathtaking views, but attracting reliable income from tourism has been a problem due to the villages’ lack of reliable potable water. Alexandra Spiro, a resident of the village of Lukove, expressed the daily trials associated with sporadic water supply. “Before, the water only came at certain times,” Spiro said, “and when the water came we filled every pot we had.”

Since then, the Integrated Coastal Zone Management project has introduced powerful new water pumping stations throughout the Albanian coast. The project, funded by the World Bank, has taken the original water network and done a major overhaul, making upgrades and adding improved features.

Vladimir Kumi, Former Mayor of Lukove Commune, which incorporates the 14 villages benefiting from the new project, said, “In all the villages of our commune, there were amortized water pipes from the 70’s and only public taps. People didn’t have water at home, and little water came to villages.”

To keep the new increase in water supply affordable for residents, each village has received metering systems. Compared to the previously charged flat rate, households now only pay for what they use, making the service more attainable for the lower income villagers.

The upgrades have had a great impact on the Albanian Villagers making their daily tasks, such as cooking, cleaning and laundry, faster and more efficient. However, the residents most impacted are the small business owners. Liljana Shehu, a cafe owner in Lukove, said the water upgrades have been good for business, “It helps us maintain better hygiene. Before, we didn’t have water and now we have water all the time, whenever we want just by turning on the tap. And the water is healthier too.”

Thanks to the project, these small-scale, entrepreneurial ventures are sprouting up around the region. Like Shehu, Miliano Bitri, from the village of Piqeras, owns a family-run small hotel that offers views of his farm and olive orchard. Since the project was completed, operations of the business for Bitri and his family and been, quicker, easier, and most importantly, more profitable.

Claire Colby

Sources: CIA World Factbook, World Bank
Photo: Google Images

Central African Republic
Despite turmoil between rebels and Ugandan troops in the Central African Republic, recent months have shown progress in the country’s state of affairs. While the government has come up with strategies to develop the country internally, international aid groups have increased efforts in an attempt to give the country the boost it needs to overcome recent rough patches.

The interim president Catherine Samba-Panza began the month of June by announcing a four-part plan to restore social order and instill peace. Overall, Samba-Panza is hopeful about the power of free dialogue and believes it is a necessary step in the development of the country.

Samba-Panza believes the highest priority is to ensure quick and honest information about matters of security, criminal prosecution, peace and reconciliation between the government and citizens. The interim president has made it clear that criminals will not be exempt from punishment.

The government will also make it a top priority to increase dialogue with young men who are statistically at the greatest risk of being recruited by rebel militias.

Third, the government will reach out to individuals who have been displaced throughout the country and those who have sought refuge in other countries and encourage them to return.

Finally, the government will muster ways of increasing hospitable relations between Christians and Muslims within the country. The religious friction has been a source of major tension.

In addition to internal government development, various groups have bolstered support in recent months. The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection Department and UNICEF have installed one new water well in Bangui while also repairing older wells around the city. The water is estimated to have provided water to some 800,000 people in the months of May and June. Around 4.8 million liters of water will be produced every single day. In addition to reparation and installation of wells, ECHO and UNICEF have aided water delivery by delivering chemicals and fuels to strengthen water systems.

Lack of water supply is one of the largest issues fueling the conflict in the Central African Republic. When the conflict began two years ago, only 67 percent of people had access to clean water. As a result, cholera and diarrhea were highly prevalent throughout the country. The latter was the cause of 10 percent of deaths in children under five before the crisis began. Access to water is a vital step in increasing the stability of this unstable country.

USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) has also joined in the recent support efforts. At the end of June a cargo plane carrying 186 metric tons of supplies also touched down in the capital city of Bangui. The shipment included thousands of buckets, wool blankets, kitchen sets and wool sheeting. The second airlift will arrive sometime in the middle of July and will be the last of this installment. It is estimated that these supplies will benefit over 60,000 individuals in the deadliest area of the country.

– Andrew Rywak

Sources: UNICEF, AllAfrica 1, AllAfrica 2, AllAfrica 3

What is International Relief and Development?
While some humanitarian organizations will avoid areas of conflict, members of International Relief and Development (IRD) seek it. IRD, a non-profit relief organization founded in 1998, believes that proper governance is necessary for all other sectors’ infrastructure to develop. Since 2001, it has initiated and managed over $1 billion dollars of infrastructure projects. The numbers, however, are less important when we want to see results.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been a partner and donor of IRD since its beginning. It is the largest donor to IRD and therefore, we can expect USAID’s vision of good governance and universal human rights to filter through in its work. IRD also partners with the US State Department, United Nations and World Bank.

International Relief and Development has over 2,900 staff worldwide. IRD prides itself on the fact that over 90 percent of these staff members are hired locally. There are currently 122 projects worldwide, the majority taking place in the Middle East.

Infrastructure in West Bank

In the West Bank, IRD was awarded the 2008 INP IQC ―Infrastructure Needs Program Indefinite Quantity Contract. This USAID-led 5 year-long contract was awarded to only four organizations; IRD was the only non-profit to receive the contract. The infrastructure building of roads, schools, and water development systems were the main focus of this 300 million dollar project. West Bank, located in the Palestinian territory near the state of Israel, is one the most desperate regions in the world that seeks independence and peace with its neighbors.

Iraqi Water Supply

The challenge of obtaining potable water is found all over the world. In Iraq, IRD addressed the needs of 15,000 residents of a neighborhood in Baghdad. The Iraqi Community Action Program was granted the funds it requested. The funds, which came from USAID, helped a water production unit run at its full capacity, fully supplying the neighborhood with ample water. Instead of functioning on its previous level of 13,000 gallons per hour, it ran at 50,000 gallons per hour.

Vocational Training in Pakistan

To understand what the solutions to poverty are, we have to understand that they are many. This includes vocational training to give people the skills they need in order to support their families. Some families lose a breadwinner in the family due to war or war-related violence. In Charsadda, Pakistan, IRD, in conjunction with USAID, implemented a vocational training program in tailoring, electrical work, auto mechanics, computing, and others. In addition to receiving the training, the 116 Pakistanis that participated in the program also received small grants to start their own business.

These projects and many more are just prime examples of the work USAID funds through reputable organizations such as IRD. With its professionalism, good ethics, and ability to work in all regions in the world, International Relief and Development live up to its name.

– Aysha Rasool
Feature Writer

Source: IRD Success Stories, USAID, IRD
Photo: International Relief and Development