Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA), the island’s official, publicly-funded relief and development agency, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its overseas volunteering programme, Community Work Projects.
As part of this celebratory year, JOA is calling on Islanders who have taken part in a Community Work Project to get in touch with their memories, photos and videos, which will be shared at events taking place throughout the year.
Since 1972, JOA has facilitated parties of volunteers to work with communities in developing countries for up to four weeks. As well as bringing lasting benefits to poor and vulnerable people, these Community Work Projects serve to raise awareness in Jersey of global development issues, and also play an important part in Islanders’ own personal development. Many have led to lasting links with communities all over the world, and several local charities were born from volunteers’ experiences abroad. By 2021 over 1,000 volunteers had completed over 100 projects in some of the world’s poorest communities.
“JOA’s mission is to translate the generosity, skills and compassion of the people of Jersey into effective assistance for the world’s most vulnerable people – and the Community Work Projects programme delivers exactly this. We are incredibly proud that the volunteering scheme has reached its 50th year and even more thrilled that we continue to be oversubscribed with applicants for every project. It says an incredible amount about the people of Jersey that so many Islanders are willing to give their time and their skills to help build schools and community centres, construct water pumps in rural villages and build critical infrastructure, such as dams, that enable some of the poorest people in the world to build themselves a future. We should all be immensely proud of JOA’s Community Work Projects and those who volunteer for the programme,” said Deputy Carolyn Labey, Minister for International Development and Chair of JOA.
In 2022, JOA hopes to send two cohorts of volunteers to undertake Community Work Projects. The first group will be flying out to Kenya in June to work with JOA’s partner, Excellent Development, building sand dams in the South of the country. The second group will be travelling to Nepal to work alongside local charity, the Gurkha Welfare Trust Jersey, later in the year.
Each Community Work Project is organised by JOA and is delivered in the field by one of JOA’s partner organisations. Each group is usually formed of about twelve volunteers and is led by an experienced team leader. Participants contribute towards their travel expenses and JOA funds the additional costs of the trip. JOA also funds materials and supplies necessary in order to complete the projects. Volunteers participate in training and team-building exercises in the months before departure.
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Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA) has awarded its biggest ever grant to the Gurkha Welfare Trust Jersey (GWTJ) in recognition of the charity’s continued commitment to Gurkha veterans and the people of Nepal.
Over the next three years the GWTJ will receive a maximum of £300,000 to deliver water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects to eight rural communities as well as implementing a school rehabilitation project.
“We are delighted to be increasing the amount of funding we provide to the Gurkha Welfare Trust Jersey as it will enable the charity to provide even greater assistance to Gurkha veterans, their families and their wider communities,’ said Deputy Carolyn Labey, Jersey’s Minister for International Development and Chair of the JOA Commission. “As part of our commitment to the Gurkha Welfare Trust Jersey we are also pledging our support over three years, as opposed to providing funding annually, which will mean the charity can plan projects with the confidence that guaranteed, long-term funding provides. We owe these incredibly brave veterans a debt of gratitude and it is humbling to be able to translate the generosity and compassion of islanders through this increased, long-term funding.”
The Gurkha Welfare Trust Jersey was established in late 2014 as a Jersey charity to mark the 200th anniversary of Gurkha soldiers serving in the British Army. The charity’s Patron, the Lieutenant Governor, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, praised the work of the Gurkha Welfare Trust Jersey in his Remembrance Sunday address: “Many of you will have heard of the vital and highly effective work that the Jersey branch of the Gurkha Welfare Trust has been doing to help the children and families severely impacted by natural disasters in Nepal. This work has been underpinned by the support of Jersey’s Overseas Aid funding and all of it has delivered tangible life-enhancing benefit to remote Nepalese communities. This is a prime example of how aid from a relatively small island community, working alongside a veterans-inspired charity, can have disproportionate benefit for a similarly small, but much less fortunate, community halfway across the world.”
The local charity is a partner to the Gurkha Welfare Trust, a UK charity which was established in 1969 to support veterans by paying them a welfare pension. The support that the Trust delivers to Gurkha veterans and their families has dramatically expanded over the last half century, providing health checks and medicine, grants in times of hardship and building earthquake resilient homes. The Trust also provides aid to the wider community, providing clean water to thousands of households every year and rebuilding much needed infrastructure including schools and community centres.
JOA has supported the work of the Gurkha Welfare Trust Jersey since 2016, funding water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects across rural Nepal, as well as rebuilding four schools and a community centre. Over the last decade, four JOA Community Work Projects teams have spent time in Nepal, building or rebuilding essential infrastructure in rural communities.
Lt Col John Pinel, Chairman of the Gurkha Welfare Trust Jersey, said that JOA’s commitment to providing long-term funding demonstrates the progression of the charity over the last seven years. “We are incredibly grateful to Jersey Overseas Aid and to the people of Jersey for their continued support.”
(Image: “Resilient WASH & Emergency Preparedness Programme (RWEPP)”. Credit: The Gurkha Welfare Trust)
Two young islanders, Faye Coggins and Johnny Rebours, are being deployed to Bangladesh and Lebanon to take up much coveted roles as UNHCR (the UN’s refugee agency) Junior Professional Officers (JPOs).
The appointments follow a recent visit of Jersey’s Minister for International Development and Chair of the JOA Commission, Deputy Carolyn Labey, to UN headquarters in Geneva to meet with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.
“Jersey focuses support for refugees and displaced persons near the places from which they’ve fled. My recent visit was incredibly productive and it was a great opportunity to hear first-hand how JOA’s funding is supporting the work of UNHCR. I am also immensely proud that Jersey is supporting two islanders through the UNHCR JPO scheme and that this is now an annual commitment. We already enjoy a close working relationship with UNHCR through supporting its humanitarian efforts in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Lebanon,” said Deputy Carolyn Labey.
Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA), the island’s publicly funded international development and humanitarian aid agency joined the United Nations’ JPO scheme earlier this year. The international programme provides young professionals, sponsored by their respective governments, an extraordinary opportunity to embark on a career within the UN system.
Faye Coggins, 31, will soon be flying out to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to take up her role of Associate Programme Officer. The Rohingya people have faced decades of systematic discrimination, statelessness and targeted violence in Myanmar. Such persecution has been forcing Rohingya women, girls, boys and men into Bangladesh for many years and today an estimated 1.2 million Rohingya reside in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.
Speaking ahead of her departure, Miss Coggins said: “I’m looking forward to the incredible learning experience of working in a multilateral organisation such as UNHCR. In a world of increasingly complex humanitarian crises, no one organisation or country can meet the challenges, and Cox’s Bazar is a setting in which many organisations are working collaboratively to address the refugee crisis.”
Johnny Rebours, 32, will be relocating to Lebanon to take up his role of Associate Protection Officer. Hosting around 850,000 registered Syrian refugees, Lebanon is temporary home to the highest number of refugees per capita anywhere in the world. In addition, Lebanon also hosts nearly 200,000 refugees from Palestine, and nearly 16,000 refugees from other countries of origin including Iraq, Sudan, and Ethiopia. As the number of refugees has been increasing since 2011, refugees face myriad protection challenges as a result of ever-reducing protection space. Today, the crisis has been compounded by the deterioration of the Lebanese economy coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic. The vast majority of refugees in Lebanon live below the extreme poverty line and face specific risks including forced early marriage, child labour, and sexual exploitation.
Mr Rebours will join the UNHCR field office in Tyre to respond to the needs of refugees and asylum-seekers in the South and Nabatieh Governorate. “Having worked for a number of smaller organisations on refugee issues and human rights, I’m welcoming the challenge to work for the biggest organisation seeking to tackle the most pressing challenge for human rights of our time, protection of refugees and migration. I hope to learn a lot from this new perspective and to have a great impact.”
The international JPO scheme provides a unique opportunity for islanders to start an international aid career with the UN, and to contribute at the frontline of an ongoing humanitarian emergency.
“The JPO programme is a mutually beneficial recruitment stream bringing in new talent and ideas to the organisation, offering young professionals a unique opportunity to serve the most vulnerable, and strengthening partnerships between donor countries and the organisation. We are very excited to have Jersey join this flagship programme and sponsor two passionate and dedicated colleagues where they are needed most, in field locations and emergency operations,” said UNHCR’s Director of Human Resources, Catty Bennett Sattler.
In 2021 alone Jersey has donated £740,000 to support refugees in Afghanistan and Bangladesh, and £600,000 for Syrians and Yemenis affected and displaced by conflict.
The Government of Jersey becomes the 19th member of the UNHCR JPO scheme, alongside the likes of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA.
Image: Volunteer carrying distribution items from distribution centre. (Photo credit: UNHCR / Santanu Sharma)
This week, Jersey’s Minister for International Development, Deputy Carolyn Labey, will speak at Toronto Centre’s Executive Panel, an event which is taking place as part of the week-long programme of annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group (WBG).
The 15th October event will examine the theme of digital transformation in the finance industry and its implications for financial inclusion, stability and supervision. Attendees from the IMF, WBG, financial sector regulatory and supervisory authorities, central banks, officials from ministries of finance, international development agencies, NGOs and the private sector will attend the panel, virtually, from more than 100 countries across the world.
Deputy Carolyn Labey will introduce the panel of international experts which includes; Patrick Njoroge, Governor, Central Bank of Kenya; Socorro Heysen, Superintendent of Banks, Insurance and Pension Fund Administrators of Peru and Board Member of Toronto Centre; John A. Rolle, Governor, Central Bank of Bahamas; and Eswar Prasad, Nandlal P. Tolani Senior Professor of Trade Policy, Cornell University and Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution.
“I am delighted to have been invited to speak at Toronto Centre’s Executive Panel, an event which will see the most influential figures from the international finance industry gather to share their views on digital transformation and its implications. It is an excellent opportunity to highlight how the international finance centre of Jersey supports vital financial inclusion programmes across Ethiopia, Malawi, Nepal and Rwanda through our relief and development agency, Jersey Overseas Aid.
“There are roughly 1.7billion people around the world who are ‘unbanked’’ and do not have access to financial services. This means that they cannot easily save for their children’s education, take out a loan to buy seeds and fertilisers or buy insurance to protect them from medical or natural disasters. Greater financial inclusion means that people save more, spend more on healthcare and education, start to invest in enterprises, and insure themselves against unexpected financial difficulties that have potentially devastating consequences,” said Deputy Carolyn Labey.
“In line with Toronto Centre’s mission, we convened this executive panel to underscore the need to balance the risk and opportunities presented by the digitisation of financial services. Our experience over the past two and a half decades of capacity building in developing countries has illustrated that access to financial services can significantly be hindered by weak financial supervision,” said Babak Abbaszadeh, President and CEO of Toronto Centre. “We commend Jersey Overseas Aid for their results-driven commitment to promoting financial inclusion and we are proud to be their partner. Our organisation is honoured to have Deputy Carolyn Labey set the stage for this important conversation.”
Toronto Centre is an independent, non-profit organisation that aims to promote financial stability and access globally by providing practical training to financial sector regulators and supervisors, particularly in emerging markets and low-income countries. Through these programmes, regulatory and supervisory agencies can be strengthened, becoming more effective, enabling the development of stable economies which facilitate economic growth and job creation.
Toronto Centre is one of Jersey Overseas Aid’s partner organisations with Jersey currently funding pro-poor training for regulators and bankers in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Malawi and Nepal.
“There is strong evidence that shows building financial inclusion is a crucial enabler for reducing poverty, increasing resilience, and achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. I am proud to say that Jersey is playing a vital role in sustainably transforming thousands of lives through its Jersey Overseas Aid financial inclusion development grants.” concluded Deputy Carolyn Labey.
Financial inclusion is a key area of focus for Jersey Overseas Aid and is a member of the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP). Established by the World Bank, CGAP is a global partnership of more than 30 leading development organisations that works to advance the lives of poor people through financial inclusion.
Today, 23rd September, Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA), the island’s official, publicly-funded relief and development agency, releases its 2020 Annual Report.
“Unsurprisingly, 2020’s humanitarian funding was dominated by projects addressing the devastating effects of Covid-19. Of the £3m allocated to humanitarian relief in 2020, half (just under £1.54m) was dedicated to Covid-19 specific grants,” said Minister for International Development, Deputy Carolyn Labey.
The British Red Cross, which received £350,000 in humanitarian aid from Jersey Overseas Aid for its Covid-19 response programmes, has said that Jersey is helping to “put kindness into action”.
In 2020, JOA made 10 humanitarian aid grants, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, to trusted partners including the British Red Cross, CARE and HelpAge International, through which thousands of desperate people across the world were reached.
The British Red Cross received £150,000 in May 2020 to support essential healthcare services to vulnerable communities and improve community resilience to the economic impact of Covid-19. In the second half of 2020 the British Red Cross received a further £200,000 to limit the transmission of the virus amongst Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
“There’s a bond between Jersey and the British Red Cross which began during the Second World War and 75 years on as we face this global health emergency, the link between the Red Cross and the island remains strong. With the help of JOA, the British Red Cross can continue to put kindness into action to support those who need it most around the world,” said David Peppiatt, Interim Executive Director International at the British Red Cross.
Two of JOA’s grants, totalling £185,000 enabled International Health Partners (IHP), to send medicine, worth more than 10 times its value (£2million), reaching over 350,000 people in Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, Venezuela, Guatemala, Lebanon and Liberia.
Adele Paterson, CEO of International Health Partners, said: “Without the support of donors such as Jersey Overseas Aid, we wouldn’t be able to reach the many millions of people that live in countries with some of the weakest health systems in the world. The effects and complications of Covid-19 infections have escalated the need and demand for medical treatments. Our partnership with JOA enabled £2m of vital medicines and supplies to be delivered at just a tenth of their cost.”
Away from Covid-19, JOA maintained its commitment to three of the world’s worst protracted crises – Syria, Yemen and the Central African Republic – as well as continuing its support for Rohingya refugees through UNHCR.
In addition to the £3m pledged in humanitarian aid, JOA also continued to make life changing multi-year development grants to aid agencies and NGOs across its core thematic areas; dairy, financial inclusion and conservation.
“I am delighted to be able to say that Jersey has stood, and continues to stand, alongside countries of all sizes, playing our part in the international response to Covid-19. JOA’s rapid response funding to trusted international partners has allowed some of the world’s best aid agencies like the Red Cross and International Health Partners to reach hundreds of thousands of people across the world,” said Deputy Carolyn Labey, Minister for International Development.
2020 also saw JOA become one of the only States bodies to achieve a perfect score at internal audit. Its receipt of top marks in both ‘Control Environment’ and ‘Direction of Travel’ recognised years of reforms and improvements which have markedly increased JOA’s effectiveness as a donor and accountability to the taxpayer.
Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA) has committed £375,000 in response to the crisis in Afghanistan.
With almost half of Afghanistan’s population assessed as requiring humanitarian assistance, Jersey has pledged funds to three organisations to provide lifesaving support to those most in need. £150,000 is going to the UNHCR (the United Nations High Commission for Refugees), £125,000 to British NGO ‘Street Child’ and £100,000 to the British Red Cross.
Jersey’s Minister for International Development, Carolyn Labey, said “Following a detailed assessment by my experienced team at Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA), the JOA Commissioners have agreed a package of measures to help innocent Afghans affected by the current crisis. Through the UNHCR, the Red Cross, and Street Child, we will assist thousands of families forced to flee their homes, people in remote areas in need of food and healthcare, and vulnerable children, including 7,500 girls in two provinces.”
Jersey’s contribution to the UNHCR will assist the organisation in delivering an emergency response that meets the immediate needs of up to 600,000 newly-displaced people in Afghanistan and helps prepare neighbouring countries (Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) for any influx of additional refugees. Assistance will include tents and emergency shelters, medical supplies, safe drinking water and sanitary facilities.
Rossella Pagliuchi-Lor, UNHCR’s UK Representative, said “Jersey’s generous donation to UNHCR’s Afghanistan Appeal is timely and greatly appreciated. These funds are urgently needed and will help provide more life-saving humanitarian support to the many Afghans uprooted inside the country – almost 600,000 have been displaced this year alone – as well as refugees in neighbouring countries. They have already suffered huge upheavals and face more uncertainty and a gruelling winter ahead.”
Street Child will use Jersey’s funding to help provide emergency support for 15,000 vulnerable children in two Afghan provinces (Baghlan and Bamyan) with the highest proportion of displaced persons caused by the ongoing conflict. Notably, Jersey’s aid will help to protect and educate around 7,500 girls who are at extreme risk of violence, exploitation and early marriage.
Recognised for its neutrality, impartiality and independence, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement has a vast network of local volunteers and over thirty years’ experience in navigating the complexities of working in Afghanistan. Jersey’s support will enable it to provide health care, food and other life-saving aid in even remote areas of the country.
Deputy Carolyn Labey added “Jersey is playing its part alongside larger countries in the international effort to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe from unfolding in Afghanistan”.
(In accordance with OECD rules about what constitutes overseas aid (Official Development Assistance), JOA’s budget must be spent in low or middle-income countries. Assistance for wealthier countries – including in the resettlement of refugees – is beyond JOA’s remit).
Since 1972, JOA has provided the opportunity for islanders to volunteer overseas as part of a Community Work Project (CWP). JOA’s CWPs are usually launched annually, in or around October.
This year, a team of 28 islanders were due to travel to Lebanon in May 2020 to provided one-to-one care to underprivileged people suffering quite profound physical and mental disabilities. Similarly, a group of 14 were due to support the construction of a community building in rural Nepal in October 2020. A team of 12 islanders were also due to travel to Kenya in February 2021 to support the construction of a sand dam that would provide a subsistence farming community with a reliable, year-round water source.
However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, each of these CWPs have been postponed. It is hoped that these projects will be possible in 2021/22, and that the initial teams will have the opportunity to partake. It is currently not possible to determine when it might be possible for these CWPs to take place. Once new project dates have been agreed, the initial teams will be advised and invited to participate.
In the event that additional volunteers are required, JOA will invite islanders to apply for the opportunity to volunteer on a CWP.
International development is an incredibly rewarding career, but getting your first job is hard. This exciting programme will give someone from Jersey the chance to spend a year learning the ropes with the professionals, including six months on assignment in a developing country.
Starting in October 2020, the successful applicant will spend two months in JOA’s office in St Helier, before transferring to UK Charity Send a Cow in Bath. By April or May the successful applicant will be heading to their first field posting in one of Send a Cow’s offices in Africa – probably Ethiopia, where Jersey is planning to roll out its hugely-successful dairy programme for smallholder farmers.
The successful applicant will be paid an entry-level salary of £20k, plus a modest UK living allowance and should have a demonstrable interest in international development and the proven ability to manage a full and varied workload.
Experience of working or travelling in developing countries is also desirable. No age limit applies, and career-changers are welcome. However, applicants should be serious about embarking on a fulfilling but demanding new path, including being prepared to spend significant time in challenging places.
Applicants must have the right to live and work in Jersey.
The deadline is 3rd August 2020.
For more details and to apply, please see www.joa.je/internship
As well as posing a significant health risk, COVID-19 has undermined livelihoods and disrupted essential supply chains, increasing the threat of hunger and resulting in a rise in death from treatable diseases. Vulnerable health systems in low-income countries risk being overwhelmed as they attempt to respond to the pandemic in addition to facing serious restrictions on access to essential medicines. Experts anticipate that the impact of the pandemic will result in a substantial rise of deaths related to diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS, whilst the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 could plunge many back into extreme poverty.
In response to the global impact of the pandemic, JOA has provided emergency funding to four leading humanitarian organisations:
- Funding provided to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is being used to protect and assist refugees and displaced persons, who are particularly at risk during the pandemic as they often have limited access to water, sanitation systems and health facilities.
- JOA is supporting International Health Partners (IHP), an agency that works with pharmaceutical companies to distribute medicine to developing countries in order to ensure that vulnerable health systems continue to have access to essential supplies.
- The British Red Cross, has been granted funds to contribute to their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes raising awareness of ways to prevent infection, supporting heath care services, and meeting the basic needs of communities affected by the pandemic.
- Jersey funds have also been allocated to the Start Network – a rapid pooled financing mechanism created to ensure that funds are available at times of emergencies for NGOs.
Impact on Long-Term Development Projects
With restrictions on movement and assembly now in force in most developing countries, many long-term development projects have had to adapt or curtail project activities. JOA has been working closely with its 35 current grantees to ensure that ongoing projects can adapt or postpone interventions and protect staff and beneficiaries.
In our effort to be a supportive and effective donor, we are arranging No-Cost Extensions and agreeing Activity and Budget Revisions where required. For example, in Ethiopia and Rwanda, some funds have been redirected from activities which cannot currently be implemented, such as workshops and training events, to provide emergency food and hygiene products to vulnerable communities. In addition, several of our partners have taken steps to ensure that their health workers are better protected and trained in disease prevention and control.
JOA continues to closely monitor the situation and is ready to adapt its support to vulnerable to communities as and when the need arises.
Image: Boxes of essential medicines arriving at Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo (photo credit: The Dr Denis Mukwege Foundation)
Jersey’s Minister for International Development, Deputy Carolyn Labey, has led a successful official visit to Rwanda where the Island’s development interventions were praised by Ministerial counterparts and UN representatives.
The Minister held bilateral meetings with Rwanda’s Minister for Agriculture, Minister Gerardine Mukeshima, discussing a range of topics including the ongoing JOA funded dairy project, Jersey Inka Nziza, that is using improved genetics to lift hundreds of thousands out of poverty and improve daily nutrition in households across Rwanda. Both Ministers addressed the opening session of the World Jersey Cattle Bureau that was attended by international representatives, including over 20 from African countries, all of whom heard about the merits of the Jersey cow and its ongoing success in the development sector.
Jersey’s commitment to moving its aid upstream and increase knowledge transfer and capacity building was explored with Rwanda’s Minister of State, Dr Claudine Uwera, and there was a joint commitment in strengthening existing ties in the Financial Inclusion space.
Other engagements included a visit to the mass grave at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of one of Africa’s darkest chapters when nearly 1 million Rwandans, mainly Tutsi, were murdered in the space of just 100 days.
Speaking of her visit, the Minister said, ‘visiting the communities and projects here and speaking to Ministers, it is hard to imagine where this country was 25 years ago. I found the Genocide memorial incredibly moving both as a place to remember those who died and as a symbol of reconciliation and what can be achieved in the wake of such national trauma. I have been hugely encouraged by the bilateral meetings I have attended and the enthusiasm and warmth of the people I have met. It is clear Jersey’s expertise in dairy and finance have a role to play as Rwanda continues on its impressive trajectory.’ 2
During the 5-day visit Deputy Labey met with the UN Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative in addition to staff from UNCDF and UNHCR as she visited a refugee camp where JOA and Comic Relief are supporting a project for displaced communities – Rwanda is home to over 75,000 refugees who have fled violence in the neighbouring Democratic of Congo.
Left. Deputy Carolyn Labey with Rwanda Agricultural Minster, Minister Gerardine Mukeshima
Centre Deputy Carolyn Labey visiting a JOA/ Comic Relief project
Right. Deputy Carolyn Labey with UN Resident Coordinator, Fode Ndiaye (L) and UN Resident Representative Stephen Rodriques.
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