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7th phase (2011-2012) of the ACT Project

Assisting Communities Together Project
Seventh Phase (2011-2012)

Project Implementation Report

I. Introduction

The “Assisting Communities Together” (ACT) Project was initiated in 1998 by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It makes available small grants to grass-roots organizations to carry out human rights education activities in local communities. The ACT Project is principally aimed at strengthening local capacities for human rights education, training and public information. Experience has shown that it has also contributed to bridging the gap between the international and local levels, as well as to improving the relationship between civil society and local and national authorities.

The present report provides an overview of activities carried out under the seventh phase of the ACT Project (2011 – 2012) and highlights the main results of the phase drawn from projects funded by OHCHR.

How does the ACT Project work?

The overall administration of the ACT Project is coordinated by OHCHR headquarters in Geneva. For each phase (i.e. round of grants), OHCHR and UNDP jointly determine a list of participating countries in which grants will be awarded and the thematic focus of the human rights education projects to be supported. In each participating country, a local task force, comprising UNDP and OHCHR staff as well as other representatives of United Nations entities, organizes a local call for proposals, disseminates application forms and selects the activities to be funded. The task force is responsible for notifying the selected grantees and monitoring the implementation of the activities. The grantee enters into a grant agreement with the UNDP country office or with OHCHR (depending on the funding entity). The maximum grant per project is currently set at US$ 7,000, but may vary for each phase. The overall project budget can be higher if funds are available to applying organizations from other sources.

The following entities in participating countries and territories can submit applications:

  • Non-governmental organizations;
  • Local associations;
  • Academic institutions and professional groups; and
  • Other civil society institutions carrying out human rights education activities in local communities.

II. Project management and funding

Based on the expression of interest received from both OHCHR field presences and UNDP Country Offices, 13 countries and territories were jointly selected in April 2011 by OHCHR headquarters and the UNDP Geneva Liaison Office to participate in the seventh phase of the Project. They were: Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Ecuador, Iraq, Kosovo , Mauritania, Republic of Moldova, Senegal, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Uganda and Uruguay. In 2011, ACT grants were awarded for the first time in Senegal. OHCHR awarded grants in the 13 participating countries, UNDP awarded grants in 10 participating countries.

Regional Distribution ACT 7

Under this phase, a total of 47 projects were selected for funding. Of these, 28 grants were funded by OHCHR. OHCHR allocated a total of US$ 192,090.61 to the seventh phase. Total funding allocated by UNDP Country Offices for the phase was US$ 130,407.60.

As in previous phases, local ACT Task Forces comprising OHCHR, UNDP and United Nations staff, organized calls for proposals in each participating country in order to select grantees. The implementation of selected projects started between late August and October 2011 and proceeded for up to six months from the start date. Throughout the phase, one UN staff member in each participating country was designated as an “ACT Focal Point” to ensure follow-up and monitoring of activities, as well as the review of mid-term and final reports, before their final submission to OHCHR headquarters.

By August 2012, OHCHR had received final activity reports from all the projects it funded.

Table 1: Distribution of OHCHR funding by region (2011-2012)


Region

Funds allocated  (in US$)

Percentage distribution of total funds

Number of projects

Africa

108,799.81

56.6%

16

Europe

41,675.00

21.7%

6

Latin America and the Caribbean

27,755.80

14.4%

4

Middle East

13,860.00

7.2%

2

TOTAL

192,090.61

100%

28

Significantly represented among the beneficiaries of the seventh phase were women particularly widows, adolescents and children, domestic workers, disabled individuals, HIV positive individuals, parents, teachers, professors, ethnic, cultural and religious  groups and minorities etc. The majority of the supported project activities aimed at encouraging participation and building capacities of these groups through human rights education and awareness activities such as workshops and training programmes, consultations, debates and discussions, theatre plays or sketches, puppet shows, radio shows, publication of booklets, articles, methodology tools and manuals etc. Through these mechanisms, the themes of exclusion and discrimination against certain individuals, communities and populations were addressed. 

III. Thematic distribution of OHCHR-funded projects

Funded activities focused on supporting human rights education projects specifically aimed at countering discrimination on any ground and with regards to any group, in line with one of OHCHR’s six thematic priorities for the 2010-2011 biennium. In addition, there were human rights public awareness initiatives such as the setting up human rights information centres, workshops as well as training programmes with the goal of combatting racism, discrimination, exclusion various grounds including religious, cultural, ethnic, sexual and others.

The various activities carried out within the 28 projects covered the following thematic areas and issues (distribution provided in Table 2):

  • Children’s rights
  • Human rights and health (including HIV/AIDS)
  • Human rights public awareness
  • Human rights education in schools
  • Human rights of persons with disabilities
  • Gender equality, women’s rights and violence against women
  • Racial discrimination, rights of indigenous peoples and minorities
  • Human rights of older persons

Table 2: Thematic distribution of OHCHR-funded projects

Subject/theme

Region and countries

Number of projects

Percentage of projects by theme

Children’s rights

Africa: Senegal (1), Uganda (1)

2

7.1%

Human rights and health (including HIV/AIDS)

Africa: Central African Republic (1)
Latin America & Caribbean: Ecuador (1)

2

7.1%

Human rights public awareness

Africa: Cape Verde (1), Mauritania (1)
Middle East: Iraq (2)
Europe: Kosovo (2)
Latin America & Caribbean: Ecuador (1)

7

25.0%

Human rights education in schools

Africa: Uganda (1)
Europe: FYR Macedonia (1)

2

7.1%

Human rights of persons with disabilities

Africa: Togo (1)
Latin America & Caribbean: Uruguay (1)

2

7.1%

Gender equality, women’s rights and violence against women

Africa: Cameroon (1), Cape Verde (1), Central African Republic (1), Senegal (1), Togo (1), Uganda (1)

6

21.4%

Racial discrimination, rights of indigenous peoples and minorities

Africa: Mauritania (1), Uganda (1)
Europe: FYR Macedonia (1), Republic of Moldova (2),
Latin America & Caribbean: Uruguay (1)

6

21.4%

Human rights of older persons

Africa: Cameroon (1)

1

3.6%

The project reports have highlighted, among others, the following positive outcomes:

  • Human rights training and education workshops were organised and benefitted from the participation of a variety of stakeholders: widows, religious leaders, local community chiefs, aged people, members of fishing communities, youth, adolescents, women leaders, people living with HIV/AIDS, sexually diverse individuals, ethnic, religious and cultural minorities, people of African descent, human rights defenders and activists, lawyers, journalists and NGO representatives, domestic service providers, handicapped individuals and others;
  • Awareness and capacity building activities related to human rights and specifically to the issue of discrimination were also carried out through extensive employment of theatre, music, debate and discussion, radio shows, etc. The publishing and dissemination of brochures, methodology tools, guidelines, booklets on topics such as women’s rights, international conventions and other instruments on human rights, informational materials on children’s rights, e-newsletters on best practices covering the issue of the rights of disadvantaged groups and minorities, and others. These activities raised awareness and built capacities of the relevant stakeholders;
  • Project activities led to the creation of debate and discussion forums, consultative mechanisms involving various beneficiaries and encouraging their active participation on the various issues concerning their daily lives;
  • Consultations and workshops involving many stakeholders - women leaders, religious and community leaders, elders, experts from civil society including journalists, lawyers, psychologists, teachers, professors – contributed to the improvement of the human rights situation in countries concerned.

The seventh phase of the ACT Project increased awareness on human rights among a variety of audiences, through numerous different means and forms. It also contributed to the strengthening of local capacities related to human rights education, training and public information. As reported by UN colleagues in the field and by grant recipients, it also achieved the following objectives:

  • Contributing towards the improvement of the human rights record at the local and national levels;
  • Creating linkages between the international and the local levels;
  • Enhancing the relationship between civil society and local or national authorities;
  • Further building and enhancing cooperation between civil society and the local United Nations presence. 

All references to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, in this text shall be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.

Report on implementation of activities by themes and summaries by country