/CORRECTED REPEAT*/DEVELOPMENT: IBSA Fund Packs Small But Sustainable Punches

  • by Marina Penderis (johannesburg)
  • Wednesday, April 27, 2011
  • Inter Press Service

The neighbourhood of Carrefour Feuilles in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, has a history of violent gang conflict. In 2006 clashing members of that community were brought together through a waste collection and recycling scheme.

The budget for the initial 14-month project — one of the first supported by the IBSA Fund — was only 550,000 dollars, but IBSA is proud of the return on its investment.

The venture generates employment, reduces incidence of disease, prevents flood risk from garbage-clogged canals and, by recycling paper products into cooking bricks, even has a green effect. IBSA says it also has reduced violence in Carrefour Feuilles — and states that as being the main purpose of the project.

'The project provides a structure for people, who are traditionally from rival groups, to work together,' explains Fernando Sena from the Brazilian Embassy in South Africa in an interview with IPS. 'It employs 385 neighbourhood residents, including 207 women. Now 150,000 people benefit from improved sanitation.'

The Carrefour Feuilles solid waste initiative was renewed after its initial run.

'The earthquake (that hit Haiti in 2010) didn't stop the project,' says Sena. 'And a study has been done to replicate it in East Timor.'

Simultaneous to the first phase of the Haiti project, the IBSA Fund also started working with tiny West African state Guinea-Bissau's ministry of agriculture to train over 4,500 farmers (half of them women) in improved techniques of rice cultivation and citrus fruit and mango production, including in the monsoon-like rainy season. The budget for the first phase of this initiative was 498,750 dollars.

'This project is already in phase two and expanding to more villages,' says Sena. 'The idea is that the project will also provide solar energy equipment to five villages.'

In the even smaller Atlantic Ocean island state of Cape Verde, the IBSA Fund supported the refurbishment of two health units in the isolated community of Covoada on the island of Sao Nicolau — inaccessible by car and far from health centres.

The roof of the existing healthcare unit was damaged and the unit was considered inoperative before the refurbishment. The IBSA Fund also helped the local municipality and the national authorities of Cape Verde paint and equip a Red Cross centre that offers social assistance to elderly people in need, providing them with hot meals and other services.

The final budget for the refurbishment of the two units was 37,236 dollars. 'Now both have reopened and are providing care to the community,' notes Sena.

Other IBSA projects have included the provision of a water desalination plant, also on the island of Sao Nicolau in Cape Verde; a training project in Cambodia for children and adolescents with special needs; and the building of a recreation and team sport centre in Palestine.

The fund's latest plans include two projects in Sudan (one in the north and one in the south); a poverty alleviation project in Sierra Leone; and the building of a hospital in Gaza.

Dr Lyal White, director of the Centre for Dynamic Markets (CDM) at the University of Pretoria's Gordon Institute for Business Science (GIBS) in South Africa, argues that the IBSA Fund can make a bigger impact.

'Their projects are very small scale, so no big headlines. They are very localised and politicised — Palestine, Guinea-Bissau, building sport stadiums,' opines White.

'They need to look at things like agri-business. Brazil is pushing for that in Mozambique and Guinea- Bissau. Also Uganda and Ghana have huge potential,' he adds.

Sena responds cautiously to the idea of bigger projects: 'If we spend a lot of money on one project, we cannot do another. I wouldn't be so concerned about the size but rather about the impact. The fund is not even a 10-year-old facility.

'The idea is to do 'more', but 'more' in agreement with the people living there, and to do projects that can be replicated in other countries. Sometimes you can do a massive thing in one country but can't replicate it.

He adds that, 'the idea is to listen to national governments and have projects that are important to them, that are highly visible, that are sustainable and that fit the size of the fund.'

Sena is unaware of any plans to increase the IBSA members' annual contribution to the fund, but says: 'Every year you have three million dollars more. The purpose is to use it, to select projects to make a difference. So far it has been acknowledged and welcomed because the impact of the projects is meaningful to communities. That is what's different to talking in general terms.'

(*The story moved on Apr. 15, 2011 at at 15:23 GMT, contained an error in the 6th paragraph. It should state simply that the solid waste initiative was renewed in Carrefour Feuilles.)

© Inter Press Service (2011) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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