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 Report - DRC - Monthly Report (April 1998) (DRC)

 Report date: 31.03.1998

CAPACITY BUILDING

The Training centre in Sumgait

The English and the computer courses are running and doing well with app. 10 participants in the English classes and 15 in the computer classes.

The activities at the training centre are constantly hampered by power cuts, 2 to 3 days a week This is a normal situation for all Sumgait area and investigations show that it is not likely to change. A purchase of a generator is not possible within the budget year, but should be considered for next year, if the Sumgait activities are to continue.

The future of the training centre is still being debated. De facto the training activities have been divided between Sumgait and Baku, and the centre is being used as much as possible for the above mentioned activities, individual training of NGO members, and seminars for social workers. Larger activities have been moved to Baku such as joint lectures for staff and NGO partners, morning English classes, meeting with NGO partners.

Governmental authorities

DRC is still sponsoring English classes at The British Council for three members of The Working Group under The Cabinet of Ministers. The attendance is not satisfactory and this fact has been taken up with mr. Masanov who has promised to change the situation. However, there is still room for improvement.

At a meeting with mr. Rustamov further training was offered selected members from The Working Group, however, we are waiting for a reply.

Local authorities

At the above mentioned meeting with mr. Rustamov the issue of training the Executive Committee in Sumgait was discussed. DRC asked for advice as to what to offer and how to go about it in order to eliminate past misunderstandings. Mr. Rustamov concluded that it was doubtful whether the committee needed any training. So far DRC has not been contacted by neither The Executive Committee itself nor mr. Rustamov , but DRC has declared a willingness to look positively at future suggestions.

Local NGOs

  1. UMID Children’ s Magazine has received additional 2 payments and has issued 2 numbers of the magazine. DRC receives the agreed to 100 copies for our activity centres. Possibilities of further minor co-operation are being looked into. The organisation is also engaged with the human rights groups of Baku and DRC might have an interest in combining activities. The partnership agreement runs till the end of the year.
  2. Hayat has so far not committed themselves to any further regional NGO meeting. The latest news DRC has received is that the Stepanerkert meeting has been postponed to a future date which might be in July and the venue Baku.
  3. UMID HSSC

Two new contracts of co-operation have been signed. The first is a partnership agreement encompassing the IGP activities and stating the organisational set up.

The second is a three month contract concerning the data base DRC is establishing (pls see under the IGP section). The information to be put into the data base is going to be collected by Umid members. Furthermore 2 Umid members along with one DRC staff member from each team will be trained in how to use the data base. The data collection, data processing and the training is scheduled to be finished in the middle of July.

The intensive English and computer training is on-going with good results; as is the organisational development assistance. The current issues discussed and worked with here are to determine "the DRC contribution apart from funding", and "how to grow as an organisation" both issues are not the easiest to determine nor to finalise.

One member from the organisation participated in the first National Workshop on NGO Development 17 – 18 March, sponsored by UNDESA . The seminar focused on the existing NGO laws in Azerbaijan, the national NGOs role in the development of Azerbaijan, and the roles of the Women NGOs in the development process. From the report from our participating staff member it became clear that two questions were debated at length both formally and informally: 1. The existing NGO law and how to co-operate with the government, 2. How to attract donors. It gives food for thought that actual programme activities and a discussion of common goals and visions were not up for debate nor co-ordination. This report matches my first three months impression of a national NGO sector struggling to be born and to stay alive, it is these very immediate needs more than any long-term perspective that preoccupies the majority.

Other NGO activities

The previously mentioned UNHCR meeting on capacity building was followed up by a voluminous questionnaire which all participating organisations have filled out and submitted to UNHCR one month ago. On the basis of this information UNHCR plans to further facilitate the debate. No new date has been set for the process.

The national NGO INSAN was visited by DRC early in April. The objective was to start an organisational assessment and to get to know each other from an organisational and activity point of view. Two of their members will visit DRC later this month to visit some of our community centres and to meet our social team in order to determine whether there is common ground for a future co-operation in this area. On their side they would like DRC to sponsor a major data collecting enterprise. DRC has promised to look at the project proposal and see if it can be combined with our own data base.

In the middle of April DRC participated in a meeting called by Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly on migration issues. Apart from DRC UNHCR was the only other international organisation to attend the round table discussion. It was a good opportunity to get to know each other and to familiarise ourselves with the elements of the debate which takes place among national NGOs.

In connection with the training of trainers component in both the Danida funded and the UNHCR funded project DRC has several times visited the French organisation EquiLibre and their field staff. The aim of the visits is mutual inspiration and learning from each other. Along with local staff we have sat in on some training sessions, and they will do likewise at our forthcoming seminars for directors, teachers, and masters.

Danish Refugee Council staff

In terms of long term organisational development the staff is now in the process of implementing some of the training, which is the difficult and gruelling part: making weekly plans and filling out the whiteboard with weekly plans and co-ordinating activities among staff groups and not with the project manager: getting acquainted with a year planner and deciding on annual leave and getting it unto the planner; adjusting the budgets and trying to make ends meet. It is an extremely time consuming exercise especially for the expatriate staff, who are constantly monitoring the process and hoped for progress.

Individual sessions are carried out with the accountant, who is getting familiar with and better at controlling the economy. Also the teams and the administrative staff receive individual exposure and support.

All office routines are tentatively put into a system with fixed staff meetings, teams meetings, financial meetings etc. this includes reserved days where staff members can close their doors and write reports or concentrate on the more individual tasks. Especially the last exercise is proving itself productive as it regulates an otherwise somewhat chaotic working style. Likewise we have started using the job descriptions as monitoring tools for creating responsibility, and getting the job/work done.

On the training side the intensive computer courses are finished in two weeks, the English training is on-going, both with satisfactory results.

Initial meetings and ideas have been carried out for the management training programme. The concept to suit the DRC needs will be further developed in May; the actual training is scheduled for June and to last for the rest of the year.

Expatriate DRC Staff

This group of the DRC staff has taken two weeks of survival azeri and two weeks of Russian. Furthermore they sit for monthly lectures on current political issues in the region with the DRC consultant Nizami Guliyev.

ADMINISTRATION

There have been many big events in the past two months; however, the biggest was moving to a new office on 15 March. We moved in three days without any problems and this includes moving our warehouses too. The only frustration has been to establish satisfactory communication lines. This has been solved by buying two international lines one for the direct phone, and one for the fax. The repair work is not yet finished, at the moment the men are working on the roof cum terrace where we hope to welcome family members on our planned for family day in June.

On 27 March DRC received a visit from the Danish Ambassador in Ankara. He wanted to familiarise himself with the DRC activities and ask permission to direct adventurous Danes to Baku and our office. We spent four very pleasant hours together, where the staff took turns to introduce the programme, and the project manager had a final talk with the ambassador before he left.

On the same day in the afternoon DRC held its opening reception for partners and international organisations. It was well attended among others by mr. Rustamov, Masanov, and Hassanov who stayed for almost an hour, the Ministry of Education and Social Protection were also represented along with local partners from the technical schools, community centres, and the NGO community. Later on the internationals arrived among other Lutful Kabir, UNHCR, NRC, GTZ and others.

DRC is experiencing a steady flow of project visits from international organisations. They want to visit us, see our programmes in Sumgait, and share experiences. For a complete visiting list please see the newsletter.

DRC has participated in a number of what can be termed organisational visits and meetings. In the middle of March the OSCE mission to Azerbaijan wanted to meet with DRC. They were especially interested in the NGO community and the activities here, and the human rights issues and the question of whether an ombudsmand might be a step in the right direction for Azerbaijan. The mission had a Danish member from DRC Copenhagen, Mette Honore, who found the time to visit the project in Sumgait and meet with the DRC Azerbaijan office.

On 24 March DRC was called for a meeting with mr. Rustamov. The aim of the meeting was discussion of the DRC programme. Mr. Rustamov was briefed on our new UNHCR project, the ambassador’ s visit; furthermore training issues were discussed and settled. A special report on the UNHCR engagement was required and asked for by mr. Rustamov. The report has been written and submitted to the government.

On 17 April DRC was visited by Danish Television for a whole day. The journalist Poul Frank Hansen was making a documentary to Horisont (a Danish TV programme)

on refugees issues in the former Soviet. He interviewed the staff and the project manager and visited Technical School No.4 and the skills development courses there. Furthermore he visited four income generating projects. The programme is sheduled to be on the air in late May. Two copies of the tape are to be handed in to DRC Copenhagen.

Technical service has been carried out on all four cars, and "the green cards" have finally been obtained for the Toyota and the Nissan. The both local and expatriate staff is in the process of obtaining proper identification cards.

Unfortunately the security situation for the expatriate staff has changed for the worse over the last couple of months. The social co-ordinator happened to park in front of a garage in her yard. She was not contacted or otherwise made to understand that she had made a mistake; instead all four tyres of the Toyota were slashed when she came down the next morning. This is the only incident against her.

The project manager is also harassed in her yard. The Lada has been knifed in the tyre four times, and one time someone has tried to break into the car. More seriously is it that the gas pipe to her apartment has been turned off once. This is a very difficult procedure which takes the joint co-operation of two people, close to the front door: after investigating the incident with our former office manager we have concluded that it can only be a conscious and deliberate act.

Furthermore the project manager has been visited by "free lance police" people dressing up as police men arriving at night demanding to see documents, and preferably "receive some assistance" . Looking back at the number of incidents and the frequency of their occurrence the situation is unsettling. The issue has been brought up at an interagency meeting in order to alert the community.

Ulla Fomsgaard
Project manager
Danish Refugee Council
Azerbaijan

UNHCR PROJECT (98/CS/AZE/LS/470(ID) (top)

1. PROJECT OVERVIEW

As a result of the assessment described in the March report Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has with partners decided to work not in one location but in three different locations. This has an effect on most of the implementing procedures which will demand more manpower hours and duration of time than had the project been implemented in one location only and relying on a repetition of the courses. However, it is assumed that the project will benefit a more needy and ready target group ("needy" and "ready" compared to the target group description in the project document), and that the three locations can actually learn from each other and support each other on a long term perspective.

2. DESCRIPTION OF BENEFICIARIES

The selection of participants has been carried out according to the selection criteria in the two technical schools in question. The selection board consisted of the director of the school, one representative from DRC, and one representative from each Executive Committee in question.

Prior to selection announcements about the project and the courses were placed in the adjoining hostels for internally displaced persons (IDP) and in camp no.2 and 3, and spread by word of mouth by the teachers and masters engaged in the project.

The IDPs have shown a good interest in the courses compared to the fact that both Danish Refugee Council as well as the project and the courses are unknown in the region. The actual selection went smoothly although family members had to be turned away where for instance three brothers showed up; or very young participants had to be rejected too due to their age.

The most popular courses are: community service, carpentry and welding courses.

Selected numbers for each field to start courses in May are:

Carpentry: 24
Masonry and bricklayer: 12
Welding and plumbing: 20
Electrical installation: 12
Community service: 24

The will be a last round of selection just before the courses start for the late comers.Waiting lists in the following fields: community service, carpentry, and welding.At a later stage it will be determined if it is possible to carry out extra courses.Selection procedures for camp number 7 will start in the end of May

During the selection a transportation problem arose i.e. that the IDPs from the camps do not have sufficient funds for their own transportation to and from the courses and therefore can not participate although they meet the selection criteria. DRC has agreed to set up a transportation system which will run morning and afternoon free of charge for the participants who will be provided with documentation of participation. The solution has met with approval not least from the female participants.

  1. IMPLEMENTATION PROCEDURES

The aforementioned special report to Mr. Rustamov has been written and handed in. Special curricula of three months duration for each field have been obtained from The Methodological Cabinet after meetings and consultations have been carried out with their staff; and a special programme for the community service component is being put together. The challenge is here to make a rather theoretical curriculum practical and suitable for the participants and the reality they are returning to.

The assessment and talks with the Federation has been finalised concerning the DRC involvement in camp number seven. It has been decided to start up applied courses in all four reconstruction fields, and an applied course in community service.(Please see the work plan)

Integrated into these courses will be a small scale business course in order to prepare the participants for the continuation of the project i.e. the income generating component. Since these courses are applied courses and will focus to an even larger degree on the practical skills they will be run more like apprentice workshops than like regular courses with a master and a teacher and with a strict division of the practical and the theoretical part.

Due to the fact that The Federation is about to receive a new delegate who is also to work within the field of community service DRC will await her arrival and co-ordinate our activities with her end of May or beginning of June.

In order to prepare the participants in camp seven and to mobilise, and to create awareness of the possibilities of this project a trip to the DRC Sumgait programme is scheduled for the middle of May. The Federation is in agreement and the selection of the participants for the trip will be carried with them.

4. RELATED INPUTS

During the process of equipping the two schools with tools the Danida funded project has made a contribution of two combimachines for the carpentry workshops each representing a value of 2.900 dollars. Both combimachines have been transported from Sumgait to Sabirabad and Saatli and are now securely installed and secured.

Likewise the Danida programme has contributed with additional transport and administration when needed.

5. DESCRIPTION OF ASSISTANCE

1.31 Education: vocational skills training

The repair work in both schools is finished. There has been satisfactory initiative and participation from the staff from both schools and the work has been accomplished without any problems. As Sabirabad Technical School is very dilapidated, especially the sanitary installations, some additional repair work might come up. However, for the time being the courses can begin.

Hand tools and other equipment have been bought and will be distributed to the two schools along with the first round of material just before the courses start. Where possible the masters and teachers will participate in the purchasing of material as a mobilising activity.

Please find distribution lists attached where the ownership of the tools and equipment is clearly stated.

Material for the courses is in the process of being bought and distributed.

1.98 EDUCATION: Other Educational Activities

The masters and teachers who are going to teach the participants have all been selected in co-operation with the respective directors. Several meetings have been conducted between these teachers and the DRC staff to inform about the aim of the project, the implementing procedures and the training of trainers’ course.

The aim of the training of trainers’ course is to raise awareness among teachers and masters about more participatory teaching styles and learner based methodologies.

It is quite obvious from the very first assessment visit that the teachers and masters are a group of people who have faced difficult times and have been pre-occupied with day to day living for a long time. The more relevant it is to mobilise the group, revitalising their professional backgrounds and creating a forum for sharing information and discussing educational issues.

The first part of the training of trainers’ course has been implemented and the second part will be implemented on 1, 2, and 3 May with subsequent follow up activities during the actual vocational training courses and at a follow up seminar at the end of the courses.

The course is prepared by and facilitated by Katy Ferrar and Zeynal Hagiyev after initial assessment of the group they were going to work with.

The focus on the first part was on "Motivation for Change" and "Learning Styles" where the lay out of the classroom and the implementing approaches reflected the content of the sessions and the methodologies up for debate.

The course was officially opened by Saatli Executive Committee whose representative also participated for half a day on the first day. Furthermore the two directors participated and gave their full support.

All masters and teachers participated and there was a genuinely open and friendly learning atmosphere with a satisfactory and good level of participation from both men and women.

The seminar was also an opportunity for DRC to further explain the aims of the project and to clear possible misunderstandings.

1.99 EDUCATION: Sector Support/Management

The UNHCR team is working very well and has shouldered the difficulties met in a constructive way. The project implementation has not suffered from the absence of a steady expatriate.

The new expatriate is Lone Clausen. She has 15 years of experience with project implementation and project management. She will arrive in Azerbaijan on 11 May and will be introduced to her new work area directly in Sabirabad and Saatli after a short organisational introduction here in Baku.

Ulla Fomsgaard
Project manager
Danish Refugee Council
Azerbaijan


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