ADRA Receives Best Practice Award for Women Empowerment Project
SILVER SPRING, Md. – The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has been awarded the Best Practices & Innovations (BPI) Award for Improving Livelihoods through Women Empowerment by InterAction, the largest U.S.-based alliance of international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
During the May 4 ceremony, ADRA was recognized by InterAction as one of the five leading humanitarian agencies for work in agriculture and rural livelihoods. InterAction’s Selection Committee determined ADRA’s Livelihood through Women Empowerment Project (WEP) best met their criteria of effectiveness, efficiency, gender equity, sustainability and ability for project replication.
“ADRA’s successful winning of InterAction’s Best Practice & Innovations award reflects a tremendous achievement by ADRA in a focus on livelihood and women,” commented InterAction CEO Sam Worthington. “It shows to the broader food security that there are practices that can be measured and brought to scale, and ultimately and most importantly, can touch and change the lives of women.”
This award recognizes ADRA’s ongoing grassroots project in Mymensingh district, Bangladesh, aimed at alleviating poverty through strengthening social and economic status of women and their families. “Poverty is very complex, and we need an integrated approach to conquer it,” stated ADRA Bangladesh Country Director Elidon Bardhi. “Encouraging the entire community to participate in the program activities developed a joint confidence that the program was benefitting the entire community, rather than just segments of it,” Bardhi added.
ADRA recognizes the harsh reality many women in Bangladesh live in, and through the empowerment project the agency has assisted improving the lives of 5,400 women and their families. Targeting the poor and vulnerable, the project aided in increasing community literacy, improving health through prevention and good health practices, and increasing household income through training in income generation activities.
As a result of ADRA’s training, 80 percent of participants now have the ability to read, write, and actively partake in family-making decisions and manage healthy homes. 70 percent of participants have increased their household income by 20 percent through the income generating activities, and many more have implemented new agriculture technologies that have increased crop production and diversified community diet.
Another major component of the project is the development of a Federation. The Federation serves as a representative of more than 160 Women Empowerment Groups (WEG), and functions as a governing body that will continue supporting the ADRA-initiated project once the agency withdraws from the lead. Through training in management skills, leadership roles, and financial competence, women are actively involved in running community registered WEG’s that serve to advocate for community advancement. This program has given women whose status is among the lowest in the world a voice and has provided them with an opportunity to become influential members of society.
“ADRA’s recognition in gender empowerment is a testimony to the quality of ADRA’s work and the expertise of our staff,” said Ken Flemmer, ADRA International Vice President for Programs. “The evidence of this project’s impact confirms we have developed a successful project model, and we look forward to implement it across similar cultural settings.”
This is the third Best Practices award ADRA has received from InterAction. In May 2010, ADRA received their first BPI award for a USAID-funded Food Security and Integrated Development project launched in Bolivia. The project’s aim was to increase farmers’ knowledge of markets, value chains and business opportunities, which resulted in a 50-fold increase in sales over a six-year period. In December 2010 ADRA received their second BPI award for a food security integrated program in Ghana, focusing on agroforestry, farmer training, and horticulture production.
The BPI initiative was launched by InterAction in 2009 with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to boost practice standards for field programs by sharing exemplary program models that have improved the efficiency of service delivery and facilitating the development of networks and partnerships for increased program impact.
This project is funded in partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the Swedish Mission Council and ADRA Sweden.