Five grants projects were approved by the Grants Committee on 13 June 2018.

In line with the Foundation’s strategic goals, these projects will help ensure that policy, law and government institutions are more effective contributors to development through the influence of civic voices.

This year’s cohort features two projects focussed on disability rights.

The first is to be implemented by the Access Bangladesh Foundation (ABF), a leading Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) that has a strong track record of working to empower persons with disabilities through community based approaches. Bangladesh signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2007 and passed the national Disabilities Act in 2013. This project aims to crystallise the government’s commitments by building on the advocacy capacities of people with disabilities.

This will be done by organising self-help groups in 20 union parishads (local constituencies) that are spread across three districts in Bangladesh. It is expected that by the end of the project, the self-help groups will be better integrated into planning processes and that government officials will have mainstreamed disability concerns into their programmes.

‘Carers often face a number of issues including deterioration in their own health, financial strain, isolation, and social stigma.’

In a project by ChildLink Inc, efforts are being made to support children with Disabilities in Jamaica and Guyana. In 2007, Jamaica became the first country to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which was followed by the adoption of the (national) Disability Act in 2014. ChildLink Inc. will focus on developing the skills of parents to engage the education system and hold it accountable to the act’s provisions.

In Guyana, ChildLink Inc will work with parents, teachers, children with autism and child-focussed Civil Society Organisations to support special education needs in Guyana. Guyana became a signatory to the UNCRPD in 2007. This was followed by the Persons with Disabilities Act in 2010 which involved a commitment to the special education needs policy (SEN). It is expected that by the end of the project SEN could be mainstreamed into government schools.

Two projects from this year’s cohort will be implemented in India.

The government of India has accorded high priority to building sustainable, smart cities that are resilient and able to meet the challenges posed by rapid urbanisation. A project implemented by Gujarat Mahila Housing Sew Trust (GMHST) will support government efforts by amplifying the voice of women in planning processes to bring about community participation in city-level development. The projects will take place in Ahmedabad and Surat: two of the cities covered by the Smart City Mission.

‘Occasionally the Commonwealth Foundation sees the value in building on the success of former projects.’

Occasionally the Commonwealth Foundation sees the value in building on the success of former projects. There are 26.8 million disabled people in India, many of whom need to be cared for by an unpaid family member. Carers often face a number of issues including deterioration in their own health, financial strain, isolation, and social stigma. From October 2014 to September 2017 Carer’s Worldwide UK sought to tackle this problem using funding from the Commonwealth Foundation.

They used the funds to: raise awareness of local authorities in Jharkand, Andra Pradesh and Karnataka to the needs and rights of carers; enable their inclusion into local authority welfare schemes; provide carers with greater access to medical care; and improve their ability to take up new or additional livelihood activities leading to increased income levels. In a new project starting in 2018, Carer’s Worldwide will build on results achieved at local government level, strengthen civic voice in advocating for the rights of family carers and support the passage of favourable policy and legislation.

Following an uptick in applications from the Pacific, amongst this year’s grants partners is The Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (PIANGO), a regional coordinating body and network of umbrella NGO bodies in 24 Pacific Island countries and territories.

It is well understood that climate change represents the most serious challenge to the future of the Pacific Island countries. Low-lying atolls such as Kiribati are among the countries most vulnerable to its adverse impacts. PIANGO is proposing to work with one of its members, the Kiribati Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (KANGO), in order to collaborate and dialogue with the i-Kiribati government and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) to help shape policies that reflect the needs, priorities, and voices of local i-Kiribati communities on migration and climate change.

For information on our next grants call and all other updates on our grants programme please sign up here. Profiles for each newly endorsed project will be available on the Commonwealth Foundation grants pages soon.

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