By Javed Sheikh*
The United Methodist Committee on Relief’s (UMCOR) International Development unit works through its field offices and an extensive partner network to facilitate long-term community development and empowerment in areas of great need. Many development issues and opportunities are interrelated, so UMCOR uses integrated solutions to address the root causes of specific problems, working alongside local communities to develop their assets. UMCOR specializes in solutions that help people become self-reliant.
Romicile Jean Luis shows corn she has harvested in Mizak, a small village in the southern mountains of Haiti, as her husband Audin joins in. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) works with this family and other farmers in the community to improve their agricultural production. PHOTO: PAUL JEFFREY
UMCOR’s areas of work in international development are: sustainable agriculture and food security in conjunction with nutrition; economic and social development; and the crosscutting issues of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Sustainable agriculture and food security, health ministries, and WASH programs are now shared with Global Ministries’ Global Health unit.
Five Country Offices
UMCOR implements many of its development projects through five field offices, namely; the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Haiti, Sudan, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe. Each country office works with local communities and local governments to identify a community’s needs. Development projects are funded mostly by external donors, with the exception of Haiti, which continues to use funds raised by the United Methodist Church after the Haiti earthquake of 2010.
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
UMCOR DRC is currently implementing two major health-related projects. The first is part of a mass campaign, serving an estimated 8 million beneficiaries, to distribute mosquito nets impregnated with long-lasting insecticides in the provinces of Upper Katanga and Upper Lomami with funding from Population Services International (PSI).
In a second health-related project, UMCOR DRC implements HIV/ AIDS and Malaria programs in partnership with SANRU (an abbreviation in French for Santé Rurale, or Rural Health), a partnership program of Interchurch Medical Assistance (IMA) and the Protestant Church of Congo (ECC). UMCOR DRC’s primary health-care project contributes to the reduction of malaria-related morbidity and mortality among vulnerable families by collaborating with community health workers to expand its prevention interventions and case management programs. This reduces the socio-economic impacts of malaria on families. UMCOR DRC has contributed to the reduction of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis-related morbidity and mortality by extending interventions for the prevention of those diseases and caring for those infected in the general population.
UMCOR DRC, with support from the Foods Resource Bank (FRB) works to empower three categories of farmers and their families with the goal of improving nutrition and food security. Another UMCOR DRC program is integrated management of moderate acute malnutrition in the Haut Katanga Province with funding from the World Food Program (WFP).
UMCOR Haiti has, for the past six years, undertaken community-based programing that targets the socioeconomic conditions of communities navigating post-2010 earthquake recovery and reconstruction. Through the implementation of shelter, WASH, and livelihoods activities, UMCOR Haiti has continued to provide Haitians with: improved access to clean water and water infrastructure; farming supplies and agricultural training; increased household income; and better community infrastructure, such as safer housing facilities and footbridges.
UMCOR Haiti seeks to reduce poverty, improve the quality of life, and increase human development opportunities for populations living in the West Department of the country.
To support recovery in Haiti and reinforce the Haitian government’s plans for development, in addition to WASH programs already described, UMCOR seeks to promote safe hygiene and waste management activities; develop and strengthen the Methodist Church in Haiti’s (EMH) health-care system; and build the economic and institutional capacity of the EMH and other partners to respond to needs in their communities.
UMCOR Sudan implements life-saving interventions to meet the urgent needs of newly displaced people and returnees across East Darfur. The activities meet acute and chronic needs in the sectors of WASH, sustainable agriculture and food security, shelter and settlements, economic recovery, and market systems. UMCOR Sudan also manages a Humanitarian Assistance and Resilience Program (SHARP) whose goal is to reach households in targeted localities of North, West, South, Central, and East Darfur states. In the area of education, UMCOR Sudan oversees a project to enhance access to primary education for children in the Adilla and Abu Karinka localities of East
Micro and Small Enterprise (MSE) training for women in Haiti. UMCOR Haiti SEED III training teaches women bookkeeping and business practice so they have a better chance of developing their own small enterprises. PHOTO: UMCOR HAITI
In South Sudan, UMCOR’s major responsibilities revolve around two projects, GESS and LOGOSEED. The Girls Education South Sudan (GESS) project is jointly funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the government of South Sudan. The project was initiated to improve enrollment, attendance, and retention of school-aged children—especially girls, who face serious challenges in accessing education.
The Local Government Service Delivery Project (LOGOSEED), funded by the South Sudanese Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning in collaboration with the World Bank—and implemented by UMCOR in partnership with South Sudan’s Ministry of Local Government—seeks to improve service delivery at a grassroots level. The project works with community groups to identify, prioritize, and then participate in completing the projects. LOGOSEED encourages villagers from diverse ethnic groups to get involved in the planning, implementation, and oversight of local government investment activities.
UMCOR Zimbabwe, with the support of UMCOR International Development, has for the last two years worked on an integrated approach to development that includes agriculture, WASH, and nutrition in Zimbabwe’s Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe (UMP) District of the Mashonaland East Province, targeting rural households. The goal of this project is to improve livelihoods in rural communities, which often face economic challenges.
UMCOR Zimbabwe, through a World Food Program (WFP)-funded project, enhances the food and nutrition security of rural communities with a program called the Food for Assets and Conditional Lean Season Assistance. This project helps communities in the Kariba area to improve their food and nutrition security situation through the rehabilitation and/or creation of productive assets intended to enhance community resilience. Learning opportunities help families increase their income and their resilience to chronic food insecurity.
UMCOR Zimbabwe has completed a six-month project entitled Enhancing Food and Nutrition Security through Productive Asset Creation. This project targeted communities in the Binga District through the creation of productive agricultural assets. With the support of the Lean Season Assistance (LSA) project in Kariba district, UMCOR Zimbabwe will work next in the Kasvisva community. This partnership seeks to prepare communities to withstand and recover from shocks and stresses triggered by the change in weather patterns that currently leave many vulnerable families food insecure.
*Javed Sheikh is the interim director, UMCOR International Programs, General Board of Global Ministries.
Click here to read the article of "Bridges for Community Resilience" from the spring 2017 issue of the New World Outlook.
Copyright New World Outlook magazine, Spring 2017 issue. Used by permission. Email the New World Outlook editor for more information.