Working together to make a difference
Like Rotary clubs everywhere, New Zealand Rotarians serve communities around the world.
Rotary New Zealand's projects
Rotary New Zealand's projects are focussed mainly on
- the relief of poverty, hunger, sickness, and/ or the provision of emergency assistance to people affected by war and natural disasters
- the economic development of developing countries (recognised as such by the United Nations) which may involve raising educational standards, ensuring access to clean water and sanitation, disease prevention and health programmes, conflict resolution, and promoting equality for the marginalised such as women
Projects are varied and involve responding to emergencies and/or supporting development projects.
For example, New Zealand Rotarians helped Cantabrians after the Christchurch earthquake - a New Zealand emergency that we supported due to its severity and scale. We've assisted Pacific nations affected by natural disasters and with many other projects such as fitting solar panels to 5 schools in Fiji and renovating and equipping a library in Samoa. Further afield, we've supported income generating initiatives, built schools and funded education programmes in Tanzania and Uganda. In Nepal we've helped remote villages improve water quality, sanitation, horticulture, farming and education.
Projects are assessed for support based on a number of criteria. For instance, the community that requires assistance must be fully committed to the project. It must be sustainable, put simply, it should eventually be able to run on its own thus making the donor redundant. A sustainable project is one that respects local culture and makes smart use of resources, thus limiting impacts on the environment. It also favours equal partnerships and strives to give everyone in the community including women and children and other vulnerable members the same opportunities as the majority. There should be a focus on skills transference; together with Volunteer Services Abroad (VSA), we're active in the recruitment and placement of skilled volunteers who provide leadership and expertise where it's lacking among the target community.
A recent project
Baddi Township Project in Himachal Pradesh, India
Since 2015, Rotary New Zealand has partnered with RUCHI (Rural Centre for Human Interests) on the Baddi Township project in Himachal Pradesh. ‘Township’ is a bit misleading as the project’s activities targeted 30 communities comprising 23 neighbouring villages and 7 informal settlements. In the informal settlements, families live in slums or makeshift camps around industrial areas and are dependent on work in factories or rag picking (rubbish collecting). In the villages most rely on limited agricultural activities that do not generate reliable income.
The aims of the project have included initiatives to lift the economic status of the local people for the longterm by mobilising community members to address health issues and to ensure children are enrolled in school and adults receive training they need to do their jobs. There’s been a focus on improving sanitation and drinking water and supporting villages to conserve water to protect the water table and make sure there’s enough to irrigate fields. In an effort to raise agricultural productivity, farmers have been provided with training and resources on techniques such as crop diversification.
After only 3 years, reports show a marked improvement in all areas. Here are some examples.
Health - efforts to get people to understand the importance of visiting qualified medical doctors, particularly to control the high incidence of diabetes and TB, have been very successful. All those who started treatment for high glucose levels continued and 90% diagnosed with TB began treatment.
Water - the first two check dams and irrigation systems are up and running. Twelve natural springs have been protected.
Education - when we last visited, we were pleased to see that there were no children about - they were all in school.
Land management - about 1000 people were trained in floriculture, vegetable growing, organic farming and integrated pest management. Farmers now use organic manure and practice permaculture and crop rotation.
Economic status - higher agricultural yields have seen farmers’ incomes increase by 20-25%. Communities now demonstrate better financial management skills. Regular saving by Self-Help Groups has become a habit and interloaning has gained popularity with a 100% return so far. Women are now active participants too which is good news for the entire community.
Along the way, there were issues and challenges as always, but the project is in a very good place overall. Rotary New Zealand will continue to support two Community Health Managers for another year and will contribute to the loan fund for Self-Help Groups to access.
For learn more about RUCHI and their work, visit their website.