We are a local NGO based in Gyumri, who promote sustainable and peaceful
development in Armenia
WFD currently works in eight rural communities of Shirak region (Northern Armenia). Here we collaborate with local municipalities and community members to find solutions for their most urgent problems. Most of the problems are common for all communities: There is lack or absence of potable water, roads are destroyed, public transport does not reach them, unemployment is high, and so are poverty, labor migration, migration of youth. Some of these problems must be addressed by local and state authorities, such as rebuilding the roads. However, there are also problems, which can be solved through mobilizing local resources.
This is where WFD supports the communities and municipalities. To do so, we have worked with each community to develop strategic plans providing in-depth information about each community and its needs, they prioritise problems and include a SWOT analysis. During this process, the communities have been very much involved – they own the analysis, and we believe that this ownership will be an important drive for them to design solutions. This is already on the way: Active groups within the communities have prepared projects and some of these have already received financial support. However, most of them still require assistance.
WFD also works towards integrating the course of Peace and Conflict Resolution Education into school curriculums. With this project, we aim to reduce the number of conflicts with violent outcomes in schools, create an environment of respect and peace within our communities and beyond. Initiated in 2002, the course of peace and conflict resolution education, is now applied in more and more schools throughout Armenia. After analysing the results and impact of peace education, in 2012 we republished the handbook for teachers entitled “Peace and Conflict Resolution Education”.
The approach is simple: regional branches of National Institute of Education support us to organise trainings for teachers in each region. At the end of the trainings, we provide
necessary materials (handbooks, guidebooks, corresponding poster) to organise the peace and conflict resolution classes in each school. In many cases, students prepare a special open class and invite WFD educational team to be present. As for March 2013, more than 20% of schools in Armenia are implementing the peace and conflict resolution course. The programme is also approved by government authorities, which encourage schools to adopt it.
WFD has worked on women’s rights, health care, reproductive health and gender equality in more than 70 out of 119 rural communities in Shirak region. Through different initiatives, we have tried to increase women’s role in civil society level. WFD assisted women to increase their
involvement in decision-making processes within their families and communities, to make their voices heard.
Many of these initiatives have assisted rural women to learn how to be involved and have a say in community related issues. Women become motivated and confident, when they see other women making positive changes in the society. The projects influenced not only the women and young girls, but also their families and communities. It broke the stereotype of women dealing exclusively with household and having no interest in social, community or political issues.