In Armenia, we’re supporting 20 local CSOs thanks to the EU’s COVID-19 Solidarity Programme

Published: Feb 8, 2023 Reading time: 4 minutes
EU Covid-19 Solidarity Programme Wrap-up event
© Foto: Time Production for PIN

The pandemic changed people's lives dramatically; it brought even more problems to the social and economic spheres in Armenia. People in Need targeted the most vulnerable across Eastern Partnership countries and tried to reach their needs with various projects. Thanks to the EU funded "COVID-19 Solidarity Programme for the Eastern Partnership" in Armenia, we could work with 20 local CSOs on 30 sub-projects. The programme enhanced the capacities of local CSOs to effectively respond to short- and medium-term needs and influence longer-term policy reforms that support vulnerable groups and those affected by the pandemic. 

The Solidarity Programme is active in the spheres of economic recovery, social and psychological services, education, and advocacy. Back in 2020, when the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict started, the programme initiated an emergency response to help 8 local CSOs with small grants to provide hygiene kits to displaced families.

While at the beginning of the project, we mostly helped vulnerable people with basic needs and entrepreneurial skills and kits to start the business, at the same time, we helped CSOs by advocating for policy reforms at the national level. For instance, Mission Armenia is promoting public participation in utilising the working potential of people over the age of 63 and contributing to the increase of state control over the implementation of anti-discrimination labour legislation. This work will ensure the possibility of allowing the elderly to remain in the labour market as long as they would like.

Promoting an active civil society through civic engagement  

The NGO ‘Armenian Mothers’ contributed to the establishment of the institute of personal assistants, which caters for those who care for people with disabilities through the development of training modules. The Armenian government plans to pilot personal assistant services, and Armenian Mothers has already shared its best practices. In the framework of the Solidarity Programme, Armenian Mothers have also provided training to mothers of children with disabilities. This training has opened up opportunities for disabled persons to become self-employed. Aside from the professional skills and kits, Armenian Mothers have also provided social media marketing skills to beneficiaries, so they can promote their services while staying home to take care of children with disabilities.

AYB educational foundation has developed a methodological guide for the professional orientation of teachers in STEMA (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Arts). It has been piloted successfully, and currently, AYB is working on joint efforts with the Professional Orientation and Capacity Development Governmental Center to improve and distribute the guide to schools nationwide. With the first phase grant, AYB completed a series of free online workshops for students and teachers in the Lori, Shirak, and Kotayk marzes through the Khan Academy Armenia platform; this allows students and teachers to easily access quality learning at home.

Thanks to EU funds, the charitable organisation With You equipped a laboratory in the Yerevan Special Educational Complex for Children with Hearing Disorders to teach 3D modelling, computer literacy, and HTML programming. They ensured sign-language translations for 90 participants. With the continuation of the Solidarity Programme, With You have created an online sign language library with 3,000 gestures, a sign language resource, which was approved and distributed through the Regional Pedagogical and Psychological Support Centres to enable teachers, parents, and children with hearing impairments to learn the gestures of the most common and meaningful words. These resources are vital to improving the quality of education and preparing those with hearing impairment for future employment.

Armenian Progressive Youth and the State Unified Social Services developed a toolkit covering 24 topics, of which 7 focus on employment promotion and 8 on entrepreneurship. The toolkit was enacted through consideration of the employment needs and gaps and aimed to increase the effectiveness of state and CSO programs promoting employment support. Furthermore, the toolkit is shared with those in non-formal education, for methodologists for the state or non-profit organisations, and is available online for broader use.

Armavir Development Center conducted vocational education training for vulnerable people affected by the pandemic and Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. 55 beneficiaries took part in training and apprenticeships. In a second project, Armavir Development Center developed public accountability mechanisms for employment programs and presented the findings together with proposals to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs․

Pahapan Development Foundation, with a consortium consisting of Bridge of Hope, the Apaga Centre for Psychology, and the Tegh Foundation, supported the Tavush Administration program on building psychological resilience in the region’s population. The consortium provided socio-psychological support in Tavush, one of Armenia’s most vulnerable regions. It is subjected to regular shelling and subversive attacks on civilians, creating an atmosphere of alarm and constant danger. Based on the results of its work, the consortium developed a model for quality, accessible psychosocial services that can be replicable across the country. It also supports establishing a system of "on-call psychologists and psychiatrists" available 24/7, free of charge.

Autor: Shushanik Nersesyan

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