By Tracey Khan – Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] – A number of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) were this morning updated on the plans by the Australian Government through its ‘Direct Aid Programme’ for 2014/2015.
The ‘Direct Aid Programme’ is a small grant scheme that seeks to advance the developmental goals of the country in which it is being administered. The areas of priority in this regard are the alleviation poverty, community health, school and education, youth intervention, gender equality, women’s development, rural development, small scale infrastructure, agriculture and food security and the environment, disaster relief.
Senior Policy/Research Officer, from the Australian High Commission which is based in Trinidad & Tobago, Clint Fernandes is in the region conducting an outreach and visited two projects that was funded under the Direct Aid Programme’.
“The Direct Aid Programme is a big part of the Australian’s profile and presence in the Caribbean region…it is funded from Australian’s aid budget and administered in Australian embassies and high commissions throughout the world, now administered through 66 posts, embassies and high commissions reaching well over 100 countries,” he told a media conference today.
Further, he explained that two projects were funded last year under the programme and the success rate has been encouraging. The project included cervical cancer education and screening; this was done in collaboration with four additional cancer societies in the region. A special needs care and rehabilitation center was outfitted with better equipment in Port Mourant, Berbice.
Volunteers were trained in physiotherapy and this has boosted the institution’s capacity. A number of changes have been made to their guidelines for NGO that may qualify for the grants and this includes an extension by one year for projects, project funds have been increased from $US30, 000 to US$60,000.
The application period is now open for NGOs to submit their proposals that could be funded at a cost of US $60,000; the deadline for submission is the October 17.
“After this they will be working feverishly in the next few weeks to get out the first round of disbursement, so we expect that the first set of successful projects will be funded by the end of October, most of the disbursement will take place between October and December.”
He further explained that NGOs applying would have to show their registration, past projects, their human resource capacity.
The allocations are usually disbursed at the end of the Hurricane season, since most of the countries in which the programme is administered are in the hurricane belt. This is to ensure that the countries are not affected by natural disasters, after this season passes then full disbursements are made.
Local Government agencies can now administer direct aid programme, following successful meetings with a number of Ministries. Fernandes said they are now hopeful the Local Government Ministry can play the role of project manager, to help administer the grants.