Combatting the impacts of COVID-19 in Eastern Partnership countriesPublished: Oct 23, 2020 Reading time: 7 minutes
Supporting local civil society and independent media is crucial to containing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and contributing to the long-term, socio-economic resilience of vulnerable groups in the Eastern Partnership countries. People in Need (PIN) is launching a new EU-funded project to tackle this challenge head-on.
Armenian women from the remote Shirak region who have lost their jobs, internally displaced people and ethnic minorities in Georgia who need improved access to legal and other services, and children with cancer and their families in Moldova who lack personal protective equipment: these are some of the beneficiaries of the EU COVID-19 Solidarity Programme for the Eastern Partnership. This project is being implemented by PIN, in partnership with the Netherlands Helsinki Committee (NHC), and AFEW International. Supported by the European Union, the three organisations have joined forces to propose a set of interventions in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and other countries to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We recognise the critical role that local civil society organisations (CSOs), watchdog initiatives, and local independent journalists play in service delivery, community mobilisation, awareness raising, policy engagement, and advocacy for the protection of human rights and civic freedoms during and after the pandemic,” says Dorota Šuráňová, regional programme manager at PIN.
PIN aims to boost the capacity of CSOs providing services to a range of vulnerable groups. Additionally, NHC will provide sub-grants to CSOs for the delivery of activities that aim to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in closed institutions, namely prisons and mental health facilities. AFEW International, meanwhile, will address the COVID-19-related needs of organisations working with drug users and sex workers, as well as LGBTI organisations, in the six countries where the project is operating.
“Working with such a diverse group of actors will provide us with insight into the needs of different sectors,” says Šuráňová. “Information collected from grantees will offer a unique mapping of gaps in services and vulnerable populations, and this data can later be used to better target aid.”
In July, PIN launched the first round of calls for grants focused on economic recovery, education, social services, and protection, and nine CSOs in Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova were selected; the second round is now beginning in these countries. The call is also being opened in Ukraine. The activities PIN is supporting include, for example, capacity building for social and legal service providers, the distribution of supplies, digitalisation of education, psychosocial support provision, and trainings to promote economic recovery.
Dorota Šuráňová, firstname.lastname@example.org, +420 732 278 634 (Czech Republic)
Shushanik Nersesyan, email@example.com, +374 91 50 68 84 (Armenia)
Ramaz Chichinadze, firstname.lastname@example.org (Georgia)
Natalia Rotaru, email@example.com, +373 68 177 477 (Moldova)
Below are the finalists of the first round of calls by PIN in Moldova, Georgia, and Armenia:
The “Women’s Rights House” will implement the “Fighting COVID-19 by promoting women entrepreneurship in the Shirak region” project. The aim of this project is to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and contribute to the long-term, socio-economic resilience of vulnerable groups in the Shirak region. The target group consists of women who have lost their jobs, women who have special talents that could be put to productive use, or those who are skilled in handcrafts and need basic equipment to start their own small businesses. The project will enable beneficiaries to take part in training, acquire the necessary equipment, and start their own small businesses. The capacity-building group will include 25 women between the ages of 18 and 45 from the Shirak region. Ten of them will receive sub-grants to start their businesses.
“Hai Mairer” (Armenian Mothers) from the Lori region developed the “Specialisation for the mothers of children with disabilities” project. The aim of the project is to provide socio-economic and psychosocial support to 20 mothers of children with cerebral palsy by giving them the opportunity to take part in professional trainings to become hairdressers or manicurists. In addition, beneficiaries will be provided with the technical resources and equipment needed in order for them to enter the market shortly after completing their specialised training. This will enable these women to be financially independent and more confident, while gradually also overcoming feelings of depression and vulnerability.
“Mihr” (Creators’ Union) will implement the “Time for Care” project, which will provide immediate support to individuals most vulnerable to the hardships caused by COVID-19. The target groups are lonely seniors, families with disabled relatives, vulnerable women who have lost their jobs, and young artists. The project aims to prepare winter food supplies for vulnerable seniors and families with disabled relatives living in three rural communities of the Lori region. The proposed project will use peer-to-peer support, where the vulnerable groups will help each other. Unemployed women will be provided with the skills and equipment needed to prepare dried fruits and sew reusable bags, for which they will be compensated. They will be able to keep the equipment and resources at the end of the project so that they can continue to earn an income. Artists will be providing packaging, as well as staging performances for seniors and families with disabled relatives as a way of providing psychological support.
The Social Programs Foundation, in cooperation with the Kakheti Regional Development Foundation, will focus on providing information, counselling, and legal assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and ethnic minorities. The goal will be achieved through two objectives: 1) Ensuring access to free information, legal counselling, and assistance; and 2) Provision of advocacy work and capacity building for relevant stakeholders. The project will support the protection of the rights of IDPs and ethnic minorities, facilitate access to services, and increase rights awareness in the Mtskheta-Mtianeti and Kakheti regions.
The Innovative Education Foundation will provide new opportunities for young women in rural areas to build their capacity in digital marketing and web development. Through a specialised training process and tailored internships, the aim is to boost their chances of securing remote employment and thereby ensure economic resiliency during these difficult times. Successful graduates will receive paid internships in commercial organisations. Twenty beneficiaries will be given computers.
The National Centre for Child Abuse Prevention aims to ensure the continuity of services, and identify, address, and prevent mental health and psychosocial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic among adolescents. Child abuse, neglect, exploitation, and domestic violence have increased greatly during the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying lockdown. The project aims to ensure first, that at-risk youth have access to remote psychosocial assistance and psychosocial first aid, and second, to find ways of sharing information about referrals and services that adolescents, including potential victims of abuse, may need. Ten online discussion clubs with a qualified psychologist will be organised in the four districts involved in the project.
Keystone Human Services International Moldova Association will increase access to health and social services for adults with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities in 12 districts of Moldova during the pandemic. This includes the improvement of communication and management of remote social services at 14 Assisted Living Facilities and Community Houses by equipping them with electronic devices. Additionally, the employees who provide services will be trained in the use of online communication platforms. Another objective is to extend the telephone assistance service for persons with disabilities through the development of information storage software that will serve as the electronic register for service provision. Furthermore, the equipment will allow people with disabilities and their families to make remote calls.
Viata fara leucemie (Life without leukemia) aims to support children with cancer who are being treated at the Oncology Institute of the Republic of Moldova or are receiving maintenance treatment at home during remission during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The project aims to protect children with cancer and their families against COVID-19 and facilitate access to remote education for hospitalised children by providing them with 20 laptops and a means of communication between the NGO and its beneficiaries.
The Raională de Educare a Adulților "Prutul de Sus" (Regional Association of Adult Education “Prutul de Sus”) will provide social services in order to combat the effects of social isolation, poverty, and feelings of loneliness and abandonment of seniors and disabled people affected by COVID-19 in the Edinet municipality.
The first call for proposals will be launched soon.
You can read more about the CSOs selected by AFEW here.