Published in Azeri and English
This is the second newsletter to be published by Oxfam GB in Azerbaijan under its DfID
funded Linking and Capacity Building Project. Since the first publication we have received
articles from partners and staff members. The main issues concerning us include links with
government, establishment of advice and information centres in the regions, capacity
building of communities and NGO partners and creation of their networks.
A key focus of the project is the linking which actually means those connections
between CBOs, NGOs, government, INGOs
The newsletter is a voice for the networks and communities and the editor welcomes
contributions and suggestions from our readers. Peoples ideas serve to enhance and
enrich the service and offered to the benefit of all.
In this newsletter readers will find articles highlighting the work of Oxfam in
Azerbaijan and its beneficiaries. The article entitled The Social Development
Network and Government indicates representative interest in promoting a stronger
relationship between NGOs and legislature.
|The editorial board wishes to apologise
to ECHO for misconceptions created by an article in our first English language edition.
ECHO has been funding Oxfam operational activities in the Barda Region since 1998.
THE SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT NETWORK AND
The Social Development Network was set up by the NGO partners of Oxfam GB in
Azerbaijan. Its purpose is to work towards development of civil society. One of the
objectives of the Network, created through the DfID funded Linking and Capacity Building
Project, is to achieve strong links between partner NGOs and government. To that end
partners emphasise the need to invite representatives of government to regular meetings of
Hadi Rajabov, chairman of the parliamentary permanent commission on social policy, and
Hamid Valiyev, chief of the public relations department in the Ministry of Health,
attended the sixth meeting of the network held in August. Partners present were Centre for
Legal and Economic Education (CLEE), Himayadar, Potential (Sumgayit), Symmetry Gender
Association and The Blind Association. As this was the first such meeting it had an
introductory flavour. The visitors spoke of their work in relation to NGOs.
Hadir Rajabov began his speech about the third sector by discussing the most recent
legislation concerning NGOs. Referring to NGO development in the west he said that
national NGOs had experienced a difficult period of transition. He stated that in spite of
the role of NGOs in promoting civil society some government officials inhibit their work
in Azerbaijan. He said that immediately following independence some officials had blocked
the development of the NGO sector. Interventions included commissions of inquiry into the
structure of NGOs and also absence of legislation on NGOs. He acknowledged the support
that NGOs provide in strengthening the democratic state of Azerbaijan. He expressed the
hope that NGOs would work in the southern region of the country implementing projects on
gender, demographic regulation, labour migration, marketing culture through supporting the
creation of small business enterprise. He would continue to support the work of the
network of NGOs and attend further meetings as well as encouraging other officials to
Hamid Valiev said that he supports the work of NGOs but regrets that many people do not
even know the meaning of the acronym. He thought it would be useful if the media would
highlight the work of NGOs and reminded his audience that television is a useful channel
for such important education work. He is the editor of a newsletter Shafgat
which talks of health activities and those NGOs working in the health field. He therefore
suggested that partners should use this paper to promote their work. He looks forward to
seeing a strong relationship growing between the Health Ministry and the NGO community,
particularly as the ministry has limited resources and a relationship would be beneficial
to both parties.
| COMMUNITY BASED ORGANISATIONS
Through its activities in Azerbaijan Oxfam has implemented a number of projects
contributing to community development. A community development programme implies the
acquisition of capacity by communities to identify their problems; community mobilisation;
establishing useful links and identifying and using internal and external resources.
This process started by creating various interest groups eg mens, womens,
childrens in IDP camps. With continued support they became focused on issues and
gained useful knowledge such as understanding the group process and how to encourage
internal initiatives. Community centres, provided by Oxfam, have been the locations for
discussions and meetings. Later it was realised that these groups needed to form linking
bodies to co-ordinate their various activities. From 1998/1999 within the programme funded
by ECHO, Oxfam supported communities to create action groups and then steering committees,
which are elected groups, with males and females, representing and acting on behalf of the
community. In that year thirty-two such bodies were created. Subsequently they received
training and made their own constitutions.
Today steering committees are able to assess their own communities needs,
maintain services such as electricity and water, secure funds, sustain relations with
government and non-government organisations and take responsibility for the co-ordination
of any assistance from different sources to their community.
Nine of these steering committees (SCs) are involved with the DfID funded Linking and
Capacity Building Project. This project intends to strengthen the SCs through training
programmes and anticipates their becoming NGOs, in their own rights, in the future.
Through this project these nine were provided with organisational strengthening as a
result of which they have attained CBO status and have created their own network. Official
registration of the network is being sought.
Linking meetings between partner NGOs and CBOs further enhance the development of CBOs
at the same time as creating awareness in NGOs of the work of their CBO
cousins. CBOs have recently received training in proposal writing and grant
implementation as a result of which they have received small grants (from Oxfam) which are
being used for community development initiatives.
Members of the Social Development Network Oxfam partners national NGO
network have implemented several projects for improving the lives of vulnerable
people of Azerbaijan. Within their projects Network members collaborate with various
government, INGO and NGOs. They submit proposals to various sources of funding. In order
to be more effective the partners need to develop skills and capacity in a number of areas
such as identifying beneficiaries problems, managing projects, negotiation and
collaboration. In order to meet these needs representatives from partners have been
trained at a number of courses organised through the Linking and Capacity Building Project
(DfID) at Oxfam. Through a system of cascade training these skills are passed on to their
staff and beneficiaries.
Training of Trainers
As skills must be passed on, NGO members need to be able to train others. This course
enabled participants to acquire skills at a training of trainers course which introduced
participants to various training methodologies through experiential learning. During the
course, held at the Human Rights Resources Centre in Baku, participants received relevant
materials and practice through role-plays and case studies.
During a course in financial management participants learned about financial structures
and reporting mechanisms of INGOs as well as Oxfam. They learned about banking systems,
the principles of working with donors, proposal writing, the difference between financial
management and accounting, principles of auditing, budget monitoring, and procedures for
purchasing. This has been a useful programme for NGOs as well as for CBO partners.
Advocacy and lobbying
This course was designed to equip partners with knowledge and skills to achieve social
change in Azerbaijan. They acquired skills in the basic principles of advocacy and
lobbying, how to develop strategies before beginning advocacy activities and that proper
preparation of aims, objectives and activities lead to positive outcomes. This course
created an awareness that inappropriate methods of approaching government cannot produce
useful results and has provided the initial groundwork for increasing NGOs capacity to
advocate successfully for themselves and their beneficiaries. It is intended that this
course will have made a useful initial contribution to improved advocacy work for these
NGOs concerned with such sectors as education and health as well as legal matters.
Gender and Disability Awareness
The purpose of this course was to discuss with participants the relative availability
of opportunity for females and males in society and encourage greater participation by
women within it. The partner community based organisations (CBOs) and NGOs received
training in gender awareness from the deputy chairperson of the Symmetry Gender
Association, Gulnara Rzayeva. This course was held in the community centres of all the CBO
partners and included what is gender?, equality of males and females and
cultural and national concerns relating to gender issues. Disability awareness training
was provided by Davud Rahimov, chairman of the organisation of the International
Partnership of the Disabled,. Participants became more aware of the meaning of disability,
its causes and the daily problems the disabled face. They also learned of government
attitudes towards the disabled in Azerbaijan and the international experience. Matters
discussed included: negative attitudes towards the disabled, respecting their opinion,
consideration of their interests and increasing opportunities for their physical and
Information and Advice Service training
Information and Advice Centres have been established in Barda and five surrounding
regions (see relevant article in this publication). Potential workers were identified at
each centre and received initial training from Oxfam and the Centre for Legal and Economic
Education (CLEE). Participants learned the basic principles and practices of providing an
advice service, the various levels of advice one can provide, and the reasons
why advice is needed. Participatory and interactive methodology was used to demonstrate
what kind of advice needs people have and the problems they face. Role-plays showed
volunteers the reality of the practice of providing a service while they are working in
the field directly with people in IDP communities.
|INFORMATION AND ADVICE SERVICES AS A TOOL FOR
PROMOTING CIVIL SOCIETY
A process during the transitional phase of Azerbaijan is its constantly evolving
legislation. Some ambiguity and changes in the law leave citizens without up to date
information so that they may be unaware of their rights. With the initiative and financial
support of Oxfam Information and Advice Centres (IACs) have been established to meet such
One such project had already been started by Potential in Sumqayit, in November 1999.
They offer advice and legal training to members of the public. Recipients of their service
include families of martyrs, disabled people, IDPs and refugees. Before the end of its
first year the centre had received enquiries from more than a thousand people covering a
range of issues. Analysis of the nature of enquirers reveals that 24% were related to
unemployed people, 23% for IDPs, 19% disabled and 43% women.
Through the DfID Linking and Capacity Building Project Oxfam has established six
similar projects during 2000 at five communities and in Barda Town. These centres provide
free legal and information services to all - local people and IDPs and refugees. Through
this service they can find information and advice on laws, their rights and
responsibilities, assistance in preparation of legal documents and use the self service
The five sub centres are in the Sheki, Agdam, Goranboy, Terter and Barda regions.
Information and Advice Centre workers, who are volunteers, were selected from
applicants in the town and the communities and received relevant training for the work.
They continue to benefit from ongoing training and exchange visits. Advice workers also
advocate for and on behalf of their beneficiaries negotiating with local government
officials. It is worth noting that during official opening ceremonies representative
government officials have been very welcoming of the development of the services.
A further service is the series of information campaigns, which result from surveys in
the communities, and highlight major concerns felt by them such as pensions and
regulations concerning receipt of lands from local authorities. The pilot information
campaign distributed several hundred pamphlets directly to families in communities.
Future plans include education and training seminars to adults and school children
highlighting their basic rights and responsibilities in the law.
For further information please contact Elshad Farzaliev on 110 25496 in Barda town IAC.
| NGO FORMATION IN AZERBAIJAN
The development of a non government sector as a feature of civil society emerged in
Azerbaijan in the early nineties. This was stimulated and supported by assistance from
various funds and international assistance. As a result of NGO growth there has been an
active contribution by them to the development of civil society. By September 1999 there
were 1230 NGOs registered with the Ministry of Justice.
Currently national NGOs in Azerbaijan working with government to improve social and
economic conditions include twenty concerned with womens issues, forty seven with
youth, twelve with human rights, twenty seven with disability, thirty with scientific
matters, eight with children, thirty nine with culture and ten with environment. The five
hundred concerned humanitarian issues have mixed agendas.
NGOs group themselves in numerous fora and linking groups in order to achieve mutual
co-operation and solution of problems. For example forty-seven youth organisations have
formed the National Council of Youth Organisations. Womens groups meet together on a
monthly basis. There are groups concerned with migration issues that created the Migration
Organisations Forum, which united twenty-three NGOs. There is an umbrella NGO Forum
that unites at least 250 NGOs. The purpose of this forum is to contribute to the
development of the NGO sector, strengthen NGOs in the regions, increase their sphere of
activities, and generally overcome the common problems faced.
According to research carried out in relation to NGOs in Azerbaijan those in the
remoter regions of the country are further advanced in their activities than others.
Approximately 250 of the twelve hundred NGOs in the country are very active.