Sri Lanka is FORUT’s longest-standing partner country in the global south. This is where our most extensive work takes place and where our work on development cooperation has an impact in all areas of the country.
In the north, reconstruction continues after the devastations and destructions of the civil war, otherwise in the rest of the country societal development is in focus.
The purpose for FORUT’s creation in 1981 was among other things to take over and continue the aid and development work that NGU (now Juvente) had been doing since the late 1960s. Although FORUT’s work spread to several other countries in the following years, the work and commitment to Sri Lanka’s development has always been the largest part of FORUT’s portfolio. Until 2012, FORUT had its own organisation called FORUT-Sri Lanka, to follow up the work on the ground.
Throughout the years FORUT has contributed to the creation and development of several smaller and local organisations in all parts of the country. These organisations have since become independent and fully dedicated to the development of Sri Lanka. They are no longer reliant on funding from FORUT. However, some of them have become FORUT’s partner organisations and carry on parts of FORUT’s development programmes and activities on the ground. Some of these organisations have employees that once started out in FORUT-Sri Lanka before it was closed down. Other employees of FORUT Sri-Lanka used their skills to form other organisations that also focus on development cooperation. Some of these organisations have signed partnership agreements with FORUT-Norway.
FISD = Foundation for innovative Social Development
FISD has activities and works in all of FORUT’s program areas; 1) Children’s rights, 2) Women’s rights and equality, and 3) Alcohol as an obstacle to development.
HLAD = Healthy Lanka Association for Development
HLAD works on the alcohol as an obstacle to development in local communities.
FRIENDS = Forum for Rural Income and Environmental Development Services
FRIENDS focus mainly on gender equality. The organisation encourages and mobilises women to become entrepreneurs such that they can have an independent income. This empowers women and gives them a higher status in their local communities.
RAHAMA = Recovery and Humanitarian Action Management Agency
In areas devastated by the previous civil war, RAHAMA works on reconstruction, creating opportunities for employment and gender equality.
In India, FORUT cooperates with two organisations whose main work is focused on children and children’s rights. The various work and activities include creating and running schools, kindergartens, housing for people living in slums and the abolition of child labour.
Initiatives are focused on the idea of Child in the centre and the organisations aim to:
• Promote positive activities, strengthen rights and make big efforts for street children and children who work.
• Promote principles and establish practices based on the UN convention on the rights of the child in local communities.
• Promote and create education for each child and his/her level and need.
• Strengthen people living in slums.
• Work and lobby for peoples’ rights.
FORUTs partner organisations in India are CWC and APSA.
APSA = Association for Promoting Social Action
APSA’s main work is focused on children and people living in slums in Bangalore and Hyderabad. APSA wants to enable children and the slum population to use their own resources to improve their own lives. APSA actively works to combat child labour and other exploitations of children through all their various projects, programmes and activities.
CWC = Concerned for Working Children
The CWC works in two areas:
1) Promotes principles and establishes practices based on the UN convention on the rights of the Child. It especially promotes children’s right to participate in various processes and activities. CWC mobilises various stakeholders for improving the rights of children and they lobby and influence stakeholders on policy issues that concern the convention.
2) They work to make sure that every child gets an education adapted to their needs and level.
In Nepal, FORUT works with an organisation called CWIN. CWIN stands for Child workers in Nepal. CWIN’s projects and programmes are aimed at children and children’s rights. Their goal is to protect children and young people and provide them with to enable them to take care of themselves.
FORUT specifically supports CWINs transit home for sheltered girls called Balika Peace Home, and a vocational school and self-reliance centre for youth. Both are located in Kathmandu.
FORUT also cooperates with an organisation called the TUKI Farm Association/Rural Development Tuki Association which works for the development of various agricultural initiatives. They also have a strong programme that puts an emphasis on vocational training for women.
FORUT’s work and partner organisations in Sierra Leone focus on several aspects of FORUT’s programmes, including alcohol policy and alcohol prevention, children’s rights, women’s and children’s health, women’s empowerment and gender equality.
FORUT had its own office in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2015. The office was terminated and in its stead a new independent organisation called “Urban for Rural Transformation” has been established. The new national organisation, called FoRUT, has taken over all programs and employees that FORUT-Sierra Leone used to have, and incorporated the same values. The organisation has a partnership agreement with FORUT-Norway to the end of 2018. The initiatives and programmes on development cooperation have been initiated in 30 villiages in Makeni Chiefdom in the port Loko district, in 30 villages in Kongbora and Bumpeh Cheifs in the Moyamba district, and they work in over 25 schools in Freetown.
FoRUT took the initiative to set up the Sierra Leone Alcohol Policy Alliance in October 2015. The alliance works with the aim to develop a national alcohol policy for Sierra Leone. “Urban for Rural Transformation” has the secretariat of the alliance.
In Malawi FORUT’s efforts are aimed at preventing drug and alcohol abuse, both at the political level and on the ground. Their main focus is on women and various life skill programmes, and on how men’s drunken behaviour is detrimental to women, men and society in general.
FORUT is involved in the following development projects in Malawi:
The National Alcohol Policy Process
A broad and open process where voluntary organisations, state departments and other public actors, such as police and customs, have collaborated to develop a new national alcohol policy for Malawi. In 2008, a wide-ranging working group was set up and it started to work on developing an outline for a new policy for preventing alcohol problems. Since then, a series of meetings, conferences and courses have been conducted to acquire knowledge and discuss policies.
The working group has chosen to include organisations and public bodies that can connect the alcohol policy work with other important topics such as HIV / AIDS, gender equality, good governance, violence and poverty prevention, government revenues, law and order, etc. Most of the participating actors do not have alcohol policy as its primary concern. Umbrella organisations have been specifically selected as collaborators so that large populations are represented: teacher’s unions, national youth councils, umbrellas for health, human rights and AIDS prevention, etc. Drug Fight Malawi has had secretarial responsibility for the process while the Interior Ministry has the chairmanship. In 2010, leadership responsibility was transferred to the Ministry of Health.
In 2010 and 2011 consultations were held in eight districts in Malawi. Local influential people were invited to day conferences where they could bring their experiences, wishes and views to the table. After this, the policy document was edited and improved, and subsequently presented to a major national conference in June 2011.
Strengthening Drug Fight Malawi
Despite the fact that Malawi has a very rich and varied selection of non-governmental organisations, there is only one organisation that has drug prevention as its specialty: Drug Fight Malawi (DFM). This organisation was run for a few years on a voluntary basis by idealist volunteers. Drug Fight Malawi has had secretarial responsibility for the national policy process, and FORUT has thus provided financial support for training and empowerment of employees and volunteers.
Prevention of alcohol abuse among girls and young women
Since 2008, Malawi Girl Guides Association (MAGGA) has run a drug prevention project among girls and young women, with financial and technical support from FORUT. Girl Guides teach a selection of their adult leaders, who then perform activities in schools and out in the local guide groups.
MAGGA has for many years run so-called life skills programmes, training young girls to take control of their own lives, their own bodies and their own futures. This is part of the usual work that all guide organisations incorporate in their activities in order to develop their members. At the same time, it has an additional dimension in Malawi, it is meant to prevent HIV infection, abuse and sexual risk behavior in adolescence. Awareness of the harm caused by alcohol and drugs is also included in this work.
Masculinity, Alcohol and HIV / AIDS
Early on in FORUT’s work in Malawi, we entered into a cooperation-agreement with Norwegian Church Aid on the project “Masculinity, Alcohol and HIV / AIDS”. The aim of the project is to prevent HIV / AIDS and alcohol problems by taking a critical look at common beliefs and stereotypes about masculinity. Men are invited to reflect on what it means to be a man and how certain stereotypes are detrimental to both women and men. Norwegian Church Aid in Malawi has the overall responsibility for the project, while the practical work in the field has been done by one of their close associates: Nkhoma Synod (Regional Department) of the Presbyterian Church in Malawi. The first three-year period of the project has been completed, and a cooperation agreement has been signed for another three years.
Prevention of HIV / AIDS and substance abuse problems
FORUT supports a project run by the Ministry of the Interior in Malawi to raise awareness about substance abuse and how this increases the risk of HIV infection. The main sponsor is the National AIDS Commission in Malawi, and the project includes awareness and activities on drugs and alcohol as risk factors for the spread of HIV infection and development of AIDS. The main activities of the project are organising information and debate meetings in the villages around the capital Lilongwe. Two famous comedians have created a street theatre about drugs, alcohol and HIV / AIDS, which is played at marketplaces and other public places. During and after the show there are debates and information about substance abuse and AIDS. The spectators are challenged to share opinions and ask questions, and from this facts and information are distributed through posters, brochures, etc.
The programme in Zambia is focused on alcohol and political lobbying on a national level. Substance abuse is closely linked with gender issues such as violence against women and children and represents a health risk through increased risk of HIV/AIDS infections.
Through our partners we have the opportunity to work at the grassroots level and to engage in political lobbying to create change and new national alcohol policy.
The particular lack of enforcement of existing alcohol laws with regards to outlets, opening hours and age limits is an area of focus for us. To our knowledge is it possible to buy alcohol at all times in both small and large outlets, breaking many laws in the process.
It is clear that issues with alcohol and alcohol policy are largely ignored by most people and by other NGOs. The reason for this is the lack of knowledge and tools to handle such issues in their areas of responsibility. Various faith-based organisations and community activists focusing on gender equality, youth, child rights, HIV/AIDS, health and poverty have expressed great satisfaction and gratitude that someone is now addressing the role of alcohol as a factor in of many of these social issues. In other words, there is a great deal of interest in FORUT’s work and competence regarding substance abuse.
The work on creating a new alcohol policy has come very far and it is important to support this process. Furthermore, we support individual organisations or projects to contribute to the effective implementation of good alcohol policy. There is a need for more and better research on national alcohol consumption in Zambia. We use experiences from other partner countries to connect the work on reducing the harm of substance abuse to gender equality and masculinity, which in turn can be linked to our targets for reducing HIV/AIDS or violence against women.