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2017-2021 PROGRAMME STRATEGY OF “ARMENIAN CARITAS”

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Glossary/ Acronyms and Abbreviations

AC Armenian Caritas
AIDS Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
CI Caritas Internationalis
CRS Catholic Relief Services
CSO Civil Society Organization
ECG Electro-cardiograms
FGD Focus Group Discussions
HIV Human immunodeficiency virus
HRD Human Resource Development 
HR Human Resources
INGO International non-governmental organization
KII Key informant interviews
MLSA Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs
MoH Ministry of Health
NGO Non-Governmental Organization
NEP Network of Elderly Protection
OCAT Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool
PCV Peace Corps Volunteer
PR Public Relations
PDQU Program Design and Quality Unit
PWD People with disabilities
STI Sexually Transmitted Infection
STD Sexually Transmitted Disease
RA Republic of Armenia
WHO World Health Organization

Major Achievements (years of 2014-2016)

Key achievements that entail long-lasting sustainability and impact in AC work are linked to various sectors and were achieved due to hard work and joint efforts at the local and national levels.

At least for the past 3-5 years, AC has selected and endorsed already known and evidence-based successful approaches and best practices of the global Caritas Network. The comprehensive, multi-dimensional approach towards implementation of its last Strategic Plan enabled the organization to tackle not only the material aspects of people’s life (asset/ services provision, aid, relief, etc.), but also reach impact on their attitudes and behaviour (information provision, awareness raising, skills development, etc.). It is also used to influence systems and structures, both locally and nationally, which can hinder the processes of change and development (advocacy in the wider meaning of the term). This approach, used as a systemic one, can be similarly effective in any sphere of the Organization’s activities, be it Public Health, Social Protection, Community Development or any other.

At the grassroots level, AC continues successful programming to bring a lasting change in the lives of children, people with disabilities, the elderly, young men and women. In the past 3 years AC has reached 1589 children, 1890 elderly people, mobilized 540 young people in 52 communities, provided medical services to around 3000 poor and vulnerable people, supported integration of 1583 refugees and 287 returnees.

In 2016, AC opened up its children’s and elderly care centers in Artashat city, Ararat province hence building its presence in the fourth province of the country. The fifth "Little Prince" Day Care Social Center and the sixth elderly care project are in the list, based on the experience and example of the previous ones, and provide family oriented support for children and adolescents in critical circumstances, as well as lonely elderly of Artashat. Through these centers AC strives to integrate disadvantaged children, youth and elderly people through providing social and psychological work, promotion of healthy lifestyle and educational and life-skills trainings. These Centers are important institutions, that can be sustainably operated to continue such support, and AC strives to bring Government’s attention to their sustainability.

In 2015, AC opened the doors of its “Emili Aregak” (aka Emil’s Little Sun) Center, which is a support and resource Center for people with disabilities in Gyumri, offering unique and multifaceted services for children and youth with multiple disabilities. The Center provides a multitude of services that are pivotal for the integral development of children and youth, attending it. The Center is a model unique institution not only nationally, but at the regional level as well. Care methodology used here is unique and replicable based on social model of disability care. At present AC has fundraised three projects for the sustainable operations of the Center.

The community work that is carried out through comprehensive programming, targeting women, young people and farmers, brings about considerable change in the lives of people living in 52 rural communities of Shirak, Gegharkunik and Lori. Through a number of capacity building and civic engagement initiatives within the “Aramazd” project the role of at least 12 local NGOs in a process of solution of social and economic problems in vulnerable communities was strengthened. Entrepreneurial activities aiming at the income generation and establishment of employment opportunities have enhanced people’s income in communities and increased their self-confidence and livelihoods.

The involvement of “Armenian Caritas” in disaster risk management activities gained new impetus during the recent escalation of the conflict in April 2016 in Nagorno Karabakh, that borders Azerbaijan. With the expertise support and close counselling on behalf of CRS, AC staff capacity was built in conducting needs assessment and writing situational reports in very short terms. This was followed by distribution of humanitarian cash assistance to 362 people from 73 households in Martakert province, as well as 200 packages of food commodities on the very first days of escalation. AC was also involved in implementation of DRR preventive measures in several communities.

Advocacy

The image that different stakeholders share of AC is that of an organization prioritizing accountability and stakeholder engagement. With a strong decision to move forward, guided by a clear advocacy strategy in 2015, AC has to date been already recognized by a number of Government institutions and international stakeholders in its capacity to carry out evidence-based advocacy and lobbying.

Armenian Caritas was the first in Armenia to initiate the establishment of the Armenian Network of Elderly Protection, bringing into one platform local, international and private sector organizations. The Network has been operating for more than a year now and is an established entity that is consulted by the MLSA on state strategy and unified standards for the elderly care .

Partnerships established at local, national and regional level have been assets for AC to enhance its influence and program impact. To bring collective efforts under one umbrella, AC joined ally organizations in both programming and advocacy. The evaluation of AC 2015-2016 Strategic Plan and consultation with its governmental, LSG and CSO partners showed that the Organization has a clear sectoral focus and has gained its niche in the non-governmental sector. The Board, Executive team and staff of the Organization are recognized by their partners as being highly skilled and credible in the design and management of projects.

In March 2015, MLSA and AC signed a Memorandum of Understanding on common areas of interest. The growing advocacy role of AC has entailed more than 14 lobbying meetings with various Government officials in 2015 and 20 meetings in 2016.

AC presented comments and suggestions for two law and methodological proposals in 2015 and for 4 in 2016. AC was actively involved in the process of development of transparent State co-funding and co-ordering mechanisms, and in May 2016 it joined the “Social support Network on national level” initiated by MLSA.

AC local offices joined the “Social support networks on local level” in four communities of Armenia. AC Advocacy Officer became the member of the MLSA Public Council in June 2016.

Six study visits of different level decision makers to AC centers were organized in 2015 and 4 in 2016.

To become a part of the collective voice and action, AC enhanced its presence in CSO coalitions. AC effectively supported the establishment and operations of the “Elderly Protection Network” and “Gyumri Disability Network”.

AC was elected to the Board of Directors of the Child Protection Network in June 2016 hence enabling AC to become a part of strategic decisions of CSO-led child protection policy processes.

AC has actively initiated the set-up of a working group that consists of members of Elderly Protection Network and the Elderly Department of MLSA and joined the development of State Ageing Strategy for 2017-2021 in December 2016-February 2017.

International cooperation and contribution involves active participation in Caritas Europa international network. In 2016, 4 of AC staff members were elected to be part of four action groups of Caritas Europa, namely, Organization Development, Institutional Advocacy, Social Inclusion and Integration, Migration and Asylum and Humanitarian Action.

Within the framework of MoU with the State Employment Agency, AC has furnished a mobile resource center managed and operated by State Employment Agency to conduct awareness raising campaigns and training sessions for labor migrants and community residents.

The organizational capacity of AC is growing with every single project it implements. New projects, new staff and new challenges bring a lot of learning into the organization and improve its administrative, financial, HR and other relevant procedures. With every new donor relationship and project, staff has re-thought and re-shaped documents and procedures to achieve sustainable results.

Recent strategic documents that have helped to use the team energy in a targeted way and plan strategic interventions include the AC Advocacy and Communication Strategy 2016-2018 (February 2016), the AC Child Safeguarding Policy and the AC DRM Strategy.

A set of capacity building sessions included participation in 3 Learning Paths, organized by Caritas Europa for a 2 year period: Organizational Development, Advocacy Learning and Catholic Social Teaching Paths educational modules (2016-2017); Local Level Advocacy workshop for 15 staff of Child Day Care Centers and international training on Planning of Advocacy Campaigns organized by support of Caritas Germany in Tbilisi for five top staff in November 2016, as well as a number of other narrow targeted opportunities for exchange and learning.

 

Vision, Values and Mission

The Vision

Inspired by the Holy Scripture and the Catholic Social Teaching of the Church we create an environment where people are not alone with their need, where the dignity, basic human rights are protected, and justice and love prevail.  

Our vision is a lasting positive change in lives of people through promotion of social justice and enhanced sustainable development in Armenia.

Values

It is not always possible to extinguish suffering and need. We believe it is also an expression of Christian brotherly love to attend to those people who have no choice but to endure their suffering. We share the set of values and principles, outlined by Caritas Internationalis and Caritas Europa Strategies, which guide our presence, commitment and actions in Armenia. They collectively form the basis of committed, accountable and impactful programming.


Justice and Honesty: responding to the call of faith, we strive to build a just moral order and “right relationships” within our own lives and organizations, the communities in which we work, and the whole of God’s creation. We accompany, serve and plead the cause of those made poor and pushed to the margins, helping them to transform the societies in which they live and the structures that keep them poor.

The common good: the enjoyment of human dignity and ability to grow in community is affected by the way we organize our society: socially, religiously, culturally, economically, ecologically, legally and politically. We work within the universal communion of the Catholic Church, and with other religious traditions, governments, wider civil society and all in authority, to protect human dignity, fulfil individual and social rights and responsibilities, and promote the common good.

To ensure we are well aware of what people want and address the need of every single individual whom we reach, we demonstrate responsiveness and openness to needs, feedback and reflect on them.

Integral Human Development: we view development as based on a holistic understanding of the human person, within the context and experience of the family and the wider community, embracing spiritual, psychological, emotional, physical, material and economic elements. Wherever we work, we strive for the development of the whole person and the whole community, and transform unjust social systems. In our work, we ensure strong and consistent links between the relief, rehabilitation and developmental components.

Professionalism forms an integral part of the above. We commit to handling all endeavors and tasks in a professional and skillful manner to the exclusive benefit of people and communities we support.

Love and Compassion: united in one human family we are profoundly moved by the suffering of others and have a moral duty to recognize the humanitarian imperative to respond. This duty is essential both to our identity as a Catholic organization and to our membership of the human family. Thus, as members of the international community, we recognize our obligation to provide humanitarian assistance and the duty of others to ensure unimpeded access for us to do so.

Compassion is combined with empathy as a universal team value that promotes high commitment and cooperation in the workplace. Core values such as kindness and love are guiding all of the above.

Preferential Option for and with the Poor and Oppressed: in accordance with the Gospel of Jesus, we choose to accompany those who are poor, marginalized or oppressed. We are committed to combating the dehumanizing poverty that robs people of their dignity and humanity. We are guided by Christian Scripture to work for freedom of the oppressed and an equitable sharing of the gifts of the earth and to help the marginalized be responsible for their own development. We take up the cause of people who are poor as our own, putting ourselves alongside them. To this degree we will take a stand alongside them in their need and confront the injustice they face.

Respect: we respect religious traditions, culture, structures and customs as far as they enhance and uphold the dignity of the human person.

We demonstrate tolerance to accept and understand all situations and make all effort to address those.

Solidarity: we work in solidarity with people who are poor and marginal, thereby achieving the fruits of peace, justice and human development. Solidarity binds us together in the common vision of establishing a world where all human beings receive what rightly belongs to them as sons and daughters of God.

Corporate Responsibility: We are an important corporate actor that plays a unique part. We are responsible for our actions and mission to achieve positive change.

Global corporate values of accountability and transparency, equality and inclusiveness are overarching for the entire programming and operations of AC.

The Mission

The following passage from the Encyclical Letter DEUS CARITAS EST of the Supreme Pontiff BENEDICT XVI to the Bishops, Priests and Deacons, religious men and women and all the lay faithful on Christian Love:

Love—caritas—will always prove necessary. Love is therefore the service that the Church carries out in order to attend constantly to man's sufferings and his material needs. We contribute to a better world by personally doing good with full commitment. We are an immense service of charity towards neighbor. Love is the light that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working”, - represents the basis of the Mission of Armenian Caritas, which states:

“Serve different vulnerable groups with love and compassion, respecting the dignity of each individual”.

Being a member of Caritas Internationalis family, “Armenian Caritas” shares the Holy Mission of the Christian Church. In addition to this, being involved in an open partnership with wider society, “Armenian Caritas” shares the Mission of all those organizations and State bodies, which invest all their efforts in the integral human development, eradication of poverty and general well-being of individual human beings.

“Armenian Caritas” serves all those in need without national, confessional, religious, racial, political, social or other discrimination.  

 

SECTION 2: STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS

AC has built its strategic programming intervention around seven strategic directions that specifically address key issues identified and achieve sustainable changes in the lives of those people who are the direct beneficiaries. The selection of these directions goes back to AC past and present operations, a solid needs assessment of interventions as well as high-level donor, partner and Government interest in those interventions as development programming. There is a high level of synergies between different projects of these strategic directions to allow for more effective planning and higher cost-effectiveness level.

 

STRATEGIC DIRECTION 1: Social Protection of Children

Goal: Sustainable opportunities for the social Inclusion of disadvantaged children and their families

Child protection in Armenia faces a vast variety of challenges, as the child situation in the country is problematic. Topical issues include high rates of poverty and unemployment, working poor, high level of migration with increasing number of women-headed families, a lack of a holistic childcare system, huge number of children in institutions, lack of alternative care services, a weak civil society, etc. Children as one of the most vulnerable groups of a society suffer under these circumstances.

Armenian Caritas responds to these challenges with a holistic approach: assuring the health and education of the younger generation, empowering families/ parents to cope with their everyday life, but also looking on a broader scale by supporting the development of civil society and evoking the self-coping potentials in communities. Based on the social, pedagogical, psychological work, Armenian Caritas demands from and supports the government to improve the child protection system of the country.

Investing in education and health of young generation Armenian Caritas will have a long-term effect in the life of the direct beneficiaries. Profession-orientation trainings, life skills and vocational trainings, as well as social-pedagogical and psychological work will enable the children to live an independent life  as well as it empowers them to become full members of the society, furthermore it gives them higher chances to get an employment. 

Social space and community work influences not only the direct target group – the children, but also a broader community as it creates the feeling of responsibility for the environment and empowers to improve their life, taking responsibility for acting towards better future. Therefore, it supports the development of an active civil society.

To have influence not only on today’s disadvantaged children of Armenian Caritas beneficiaries, but on disadvantaged children all over Armenia in future, advocacy, lobbying and networking will be the main objective of the Child Protection Direction during 2017 – 2021. For ensuring sustainable child protection system in Armenia, Child Protection team of Armenian Caritas will elaborate Child Protection regulations, methodologies and quality standards and participate in the policymaking and reform processes of the government, pushing the state bodies to fulfill the relevant actions.

 Outcome 1.1: Disadvantaged children and families living in difficult situations have access to comprehensive social-psychological, educational and cultural development opportunities

Through the involvement in social-psychological and individual case work and group work, in non-formal education and life skills, in legal counseling, the children and parents will raise their self-confidence and will be able to use their own resources to improve their social and psychological state. The provision of professional orient ation courses and vocational trainings will support the children and parents to have general knowledge and skills about possible future professions. Thus, they will have profession-oriented competences that promote their orientation and chances on the labor market. We will improve the physical health of youth through organization of sport, healthy life-style trainings, hygienic education for children and youth. Children will have opportunity for planning, organizing and implementing cultural, leisure activities in collaboration with schools, community based organizations and wider society, ensuring their participation in public life.

Outcome 1.2: Favorable environment for successful integration of disadvantaged children and families into the society is created and promoted.

Through social space projects children learn to analyze different problems in their immediate environment, activate and collaborate with people in their community and implement improvements together. This contributes to raise their self-esteem and acknowledgement of their role in the community, involving other members of the community in the improvement of the social spaces. The engagement of children and youth in community-based and environmental protection activities for improving their social spaces will promote their social competencies and civic participation. The realization of improved social spaces will lead to an increased positive attitude in the community towards vulnerable children an increased feeling of ownership and social responsibility among the community.

Outcome 1.3: Policies/legal frameworks regarding protection of disadvantaged children Protection policies/legal frameworks in the Republic of Armenia are improved.

The AC implements a comprehensive advocacy and communication strategy for disadvantaged children and families to enhance their access to social protection quality services and empower them with sustainable development opportunities. In this effort, we place a separate focus on enhancing collaboration with the MLSA, UNICEF, Family Protection departments of Local Governments of Shirak, Lori, Gegharkunik and Ararat provinces, Child Protection Network and other key stakeholders.

Adoption and implementation of transparent state co-financing mechanisms for services provided by CSOs and unified approaches/minimum standards of children's social care are the main advocacy objectives of AC in this working direction.  Meetings on national, regional and local level will lead to the formulation of common approaches, quality standards and methodologies of child protection work in day care centers. The financial sustainability of services provided by AC for disadvantage children will be ultimately ensured by trying to secure around 35% of operation costs from the Government, and finding other sustainable sources of funding the remaining 65%.

Services for at least 35% of children in AC 6 day care centers must be funded by the State by 2021. Because of implementation of the coordinated fundraising policy, AC will also diversify its funding sources for disadvantaged children’s projects.

 

STRATEGIC DIRECTION 2: Social Inclusion of People with Disabilities

Goal: People with disabilities are empowered and enabling environment for inclusion is created Persons with disabilities especially children and their families are one of the vulnerable groups supported by the Armenian Caritas. Persons with disabilities and their whole families are often times separated and isolated from the rest of the society because they are seen as an embarrassment or weakness for the entire society. In many cases, one family member is given the responsibility of caring for the disabled individual. Another concern is that society members in general are not aware of or sensitive to the living conditions of disabled people.  Socially, it is not acceptable for individuals to associate with people that have disabilities (especially those with multiple disabilities), and there are only few organizations that educate the public or bring these people together. To achieve an enabling environment for inclusion, which empowers PWDs and supports everyone else to enhance this environment AC will continue to deliver qualified and supportive services for C&PWDs, put further efforts to integrate them in the labor market and advocate for enhanced legal framework in the country.

In full implementation of this strategic direction, AC follows the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity. The direction will have a human-rights-based approach, aiming at promoting the rights of disabled people as equal members of the society.

Outcome 2.1: Qualified and supportive services are delivered for children and people with disabilities

People with disabilities are in acute need of quality supportive services in their day-to-day life to integrate into social, cultural, educational and economic environment and enjoy access to all physical facilities. Children with disabilities need such services because those services improve their capabilities to lead self-determined lives. The therapeutic services assist in the physical and mental development of the children as well as support the children’s development of self-expression. The Emili Aregak Center will continue to implement social events aiming to create a positive attitude towards disabled people in the society. The community members together with parents of disabled children will continue to be an integrated part of the social events organized in the Center to enhance societal understanding of how an enabling environment should be created, promoted and what are societal responsibility and roles towards that. Such social events will include, but will not be limited to movie presentations, different exhibitions and workshops, and performances. The goal of such social events is to raise awareness about the rights of persons with disabilities and the concept of inclusion.

The art therapy at the Emili Aregak Center will be expanded to specifically incorporate therapeutic manual work. Small and simple handicrafts, like Christmas cards, pottery, or maybe candles, will be produced in therapeutic manual work sessions with the Center beneficiaries. A positive side effect of this will also be that the community in Gyumri will become more aware of the capabilities of PWD.

Outcome 2. 2: People with disabilities are integrated in the labour market

The labour market in Armenia poses a number of challenges for people with disabilities. Those challenges include inequity in the labour market and inaccessible job placements. Surveys and studies have revealed that there is a demand in Armenia to support skill development and vocational education for people with disabilities. In order to support the beneficiaries at Emili Aregak Center who are ready to advance their skills and knowledge, as well as to obtain employment, the Emili Aregak Center will collaborate with outside training centers that have the capacity to provide additional training for the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries will attend these trainings and gain skills that will help them enter the workforce.

A barrier free bakery and coffee shop will be established Gyumri. The shops will focus on employing PWDs as well as their parents. The bakery and coffee shop will be an inclusive workplace where the work environment is physically, mentally and emotionally accessible. This design will introduce a practical example of “work adjustment for PWDs.” The bakery and the coffee shop, will serve as a model in Gyumri of an accessible workplace, which will maximize productivity and support PWD to realize their full potential.

Outcome 2.3: Children with disabilities enjoy their right to education

In terms of education, the government has committed to making the entire school system inclusive by 2022. However, at present the lack of an individual approach to academic achievement, as well as physical barriers in schools and communities, means that some children with disabilities in Armenia receive no education at all. Others enrolled in “inclusive” community schools may attend school for only a few hours a day, or a few days a week. Children with disabilities often do not attend classes with other children or if they are in the classroom, they may not receive the services they need to participate in an academic curriculum. They may, instead be given art, sewing, or other tasks to occupy them. For many children with disabilities, their education consists primarily or exclusively of one hour or shorter individual sessions once or a few times a week. Community schools often lack sufficient staff, in particular aides who can provide direct support to one or more children. In some cases, a parent, most often a child’s mother will remain with the child in the classroom to provide support. Some children with disabilities receive sub-standard home education, with teachers visiting a child at home to teach basic literacy and numeracy only.

International standards provide that schools should be fully accessible, and provide reasonable accommodations to support students, regardless of their disability. Support measures provided to children with disabilities should be individualized, based on each child’s particular learning needs, and strengthen opportunities for students with disabilities to participate fully in the classroom.

 

STRATEGIC DIRECTION 3: Social inclusion and care of the elderly

GOAL: Mechanisms of meeting social needs, integration of the elderly in community life and mechanisms of active ageing are ensured for the disadvantaged elderly that live in difficult conditions of life.

According to the data of the RA National Statistical Service, birth rate reduction and migration outflows have led to a situation when as of January 1, 2016, the working age population (16-62 age group) makes up 66.3% (2 995,1 million) of the total number of the RA  resident population. The population below working age (0-15 age group) is 20.8%, and the number of people aged 63 and over makes up 12.9% (387 659 people) of the total number of the resident population. The number of people aged 65 and over stands at 323 100 or makes up 10.8% of the total number of the population. There is a tendency for increase in the number of the elderly within the total number of the population. Thus, as of 2011, the number of people aged 63 and over made up 11.5% (376 100 people) of the total number of the population. Over the past five years, the increase in the number of the elderly within the total number of the population made up 1.4% or 11 559 people.

Armenia has moved closer to and now finds itself at the upper threshold of ageing societies.  The forecast of the United Nations Population Fund points to the fact that Armenia will soon be crossing that threshold. According to the forecast, in the 2050s people aged 65 and over will make up 22-23% of the population.

According to the statistics, the poverty level in Armenia stands at approximately 30%, 24% among the 60-64 age group, and 32% among those aged 65 and over.  As of January 1, 2016, due to lack of means for living, 47 276 pensioners are registered at the vulnerability system. Out of this number 35 867 people, or 9.2% of the total number of the elderly, receive family allowance.  

Armenian Caritas believes that the elderly people in Armenia deserve a dignified life, should access affordable healthcare, social and cultural services and receive adequate at-home care services ensured by the state.

Sustainable care services include primary health care services, medicine/ nursing/care items provision, social care services, protection of hygiene, social workers’ services for conducting intermediator works with state structures, leisure activities, dietary food provision, etc.   

Outcome 3.1: Sustainable care services for supporting disadvantaged elderlies in Shirak, Lori, Gegharkunik and Ararat regions of RA are ensured

The elderly in Armenia have numerous needs, which grow year by year with their aging. The elderly problems are of both economic and social-psychological nature. Often deprived of basic care, social, cultural and other relevant services elderly people get isolated and do not access those services they are entitled to, due to a number of obstacles ranging from physical to mental and moral ones. Their social and psychological isolation forces them to disintegrate and gradually become vulnerable, obtain psychical and somatic disorders and consequently their aggravation.

The elderly receive professional social and health care services, combined with direct support, based on the adapted and integrated European home-care model. They are provided with necessary supportive, rehabilitative items to the beneficiaries (hand sticks, crutches, supporters for moving, round pillows, neck supporters, moving toilets, anti-decubitus materials). The items are distributed according to the beneficiary needs and afterwards if those are not any more necessary they are to be returned for the provision to others on demand. The elderly involved in the project get medical support, social and daily individual care services, moral assistance and psychological rehabilitation, physical and psychological protection, communication, contact.  Medicine and medical/health care supplies become accessible, as well as provision of proper healthcare services and regular control result in betterment of the chronic diseases and poor social or health situation.

Outcome 3.2: Policies/legal frameworks regarding protection of disadvantaged Elderly people in the Republic of Armenia are improved.

Sustainable care services include primary health care services, medicine/ nursing/care items provision, social care services, protection of hygiene, social workers’ services for conducting intermediator works with state structures, leisure activities, dietary food provision, etc. They are entitled to receive appropriate services and live a dignified life. AC sees the future of these services more sustainable only through ensuring they are co-funded by the state, as well as other diversified funding sources are identified and exploited.

Outcome 3: AC transfers its Home Care methodology and knowledge to the medical colleges and institutions 

There is a huge institutional and professional experience and knowledge available in AC because of long-term programming on elderly care and social inclusion, which AC will regularly turn into educational outputs and design educational curricula for relevant vocational educational institutions and their young graduates. The sustainable knowledge transfer will ensure professional approaches used by new graduates and gradual change of old methods used in the elderly care sector.

  

STRATEGIC DIRECTION 4: Disaster Risk reduction and emergency response

Goal: Enhanced individual and community resilience towards disasters through preparation, response and recovery

The overall goal of this strategic programming is to enhance preparedness of AC personnel, its beneficiaries and stakeholders through ongoing knowledge, capacity and resource enrichment with the aim of facing possible emergencies with enough knowledge and behavioral skills.

The program will aim at taking actions and measures at three levels: before, during and after possible disasters and emergencies.

Initiatives will be undertaken to raise resilience in communities and their public awareness, improve emergency behavioral skills, acquire necessary technical resources and capacities, take preventive and mitigating measures, coordinate and synergize with other stakeholders.   

Outcome 4.1: Disaster preparedness and resilience of communities and population is enhanced.

All of the communities and individuals are prone to disaster risks in one or another way. The past experience showed ineffectiveness of reacting to disasters after that take place. The approach should be changed from reactive to preventive approach. Understanding the risks communities and individuals are prone to is the first step in the effective and efficient disaster risk management. AC’s DRM strategy is aiming to identify the risks of disasters, raise awareness of the population and communities under risk, and investing in the capacity building of governance and management bodies responsible for managing the risks. Special attention will be given to risk mitigation rather than recovering from the disasters when they hit. All of the intervention logics should be synergized with other programs of AC for maximum effect and building more resilient communities.

Outcome 4.2: Support response and recovery, and provide humanitarian assistance to areas affected by disasters and other crisis situations.

AC aims to reduce human suffering for those in the most need. AC aims to assist the people and communities affected by disasters. The assistance will start from the response and continue with the recovery of basic functions of the communities affected by disasters. The assistance will be timely and in the most suitable form. DRM strategy will work closely with other programmatic teams for building on each other’s results and creating synergies, e.g. with Community Development and Migration and Integration teams, and any other team able to support in case of crisis.

AC will cooperate with its partners and other humanitarian actors for provision of humanitarian assistance in compliance with the SPHERE standards. UN OCHA DMCT clusters will act as the primary structure for managing provided overall assistance. At the same time, direct collaboration with Ministry of Emergency Situations and strategic partners will increase the efficiency and timeliness of the provided assistance.  

Outcome 4.3: Capacity of AC in Disaster Risk Management and Humanitarian Assistance is enhanced

Considering the importance, AC attaches to this strategic direction there should be continuous growth in the capacity of the organization in managing disaster risks and provision of humanitarian assistance. To achieve this, we will build the capacity of individual staff members and overall institutional capacity of the AC in the above mentioned directions, actively participate in UN OCHA DMCT clusters’ work, establish and strengthen partnerships for humanitarian assistance, acquire stand-by contracts for provision of humanitarian assistance, and take any other appropriate measures for increasing AC’s capacity to provide timely and effective assistance in case of disasters and other crises.

 

STRATEGIC DIRECTION 5: Community Development

 Goal: Sustainable communities built through improvement of socio-economic conditions and realization of community potential

AC started its community development program intervention yet in 1998, when the Organization understood the necessity of sustainable investments not only into the improvement of infrastructures, but also in mentality change of people. Inherited from the Soviet era, the mentality of people had to shift from the demanding character of consumer to initiator and participant of change in one’s own life and community. Almost 20 years have passed since the first steps in community mobilization. AC adapted its methodology of work and utilized tools according to the demand of the times and the growth of own capacities.

Nowadays, community development remains one of the key involvement areas for the Organization. Further improvements in this field are foreseen through the complex approach of boosting of entrepreneurial activities and entrepreneurship skills of private owners at local level, improvement of community governance mechanisms through active participation of civil society and investments in capacity of local communities to provide basic public services.

One of the important aspects we tackle through programs is increasing citizen participation in decision-making and raising civic voice for more effective governance. Establishment of local civil society organizations is one of the pre-requisites to invest in active civil society and mobilization of vibrant youth. We will continue to support these CSOs to diversify their funding opportunities and create platforms for their members and other community people to monitor public services and governance mechanisms for the benefit of their communities.

Outcome 5.1: Entrepreneurial activities and entrepreneurship skills developed at local communities

All of the communities where AC had interventions showed different potentials for entrepreneurial development. The community sustainability is highly dependent on the entrepreneurship development. Based on various assessments AC feels that the use of new approaches to the entrepreneurship development in the communities is becoming increasingly important. The community development strategy is aiming to identify the community entrepreneurial potentials, and invest in new entrepreneurships and approaches in the communities. We will give a special attention to the small and medium entrepreneurship in the communities. We will synergize all of the intervention logics with other programs of AC for maximum effect and more sustainability.   

Agriculture is a key contributor to formal and informal employment and rural incomes and livelihood, as well as food supply security. It also has a strong potential for expansion of exports in food and beverage products. Integration of Armenian agricultural production and agro-processing into international food markets is the ultimate goal. To achieve this, we will mobilize efforts for further investments to increase productivity and competitiveness, modernise agricultural infrastructure and diversify economic activities in rural communities.

Outcome 5.2: Community governance mechanisms improved through promotion of civil society principles

Considering the importance of AC as one of the biggest local NGOs in the RA there is high importance of the capacity building of civil society organizations for community governance mechanisms development in managing disaster risks and provision of humanitarian assistance. We will build the capacity of individual staff members and overall institutional capacity of the CSOs, actively participating in community governance, establish and strengthen partnerships between the Government and CSOs. We will continue to organize community development activities in various partnership formats and take any other appropriate measures for increasing CSO capacity to be role models in the communities.

Outcome 5.3: Improved capacity of local communities in providing basic public services

Due to intensive long-term male labour migration, many families are isolated and women, children, adolescents and elderly people populate some villages almost entirely. Unsafe sexual behaviour of male migrants results in HIV/Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and its transmission to their partners and family members upon return to the home country. Armenia is particularly vulnerable to the spread of HIV/AIDS because the country has a high level of interaction with Russia and the Ukraine. Both countries are strongly affected by the AIDS epidemic and both countries are most popular with seasonal migrants from Armenia. The majority of the registered HIV patients were infected abroad (57% in 2014).

One of the factors that could potentially contribute to the risk of migrants is the lack of knowledge on the ways of HIV transmission and on the methods and means to prevent the transmission of the virus. In general, the lack of knowledge results in a low risk perception, which in turn leads to risky behaviours (irregular sexual lives, use services of sex workers, other unsafe behaviours) of migrants in destination countries. Further, having such a low risk perception, migrants do not get tested for HIV before or immediately upon returning to Armenia. According to the report of Ministry of Health (MoH) HIV Epidemiological Surveillance, the number of HIV tests performed on an annual basis has been consistently increasing within the last 5 years. However, in parallel, the number of new registered HIV cases also increased.

According to the WHO/UNAIDS classification, Armenia belongs to the region with fast growth of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The main modes of HIV transmission are through heterosexual practices (65%) and injecting drug use (26%). Awareness of HIV among young people is low and the current educational system does not properly address the actual challenges in HIV/AIDS. Stigma and discrimination towards people leaving with HIV/AIDS is high, and this leads to their social exclusion, hindering their full integration into society and creating a serious challenge to their wellbeing and care.

 

STRATEGIC DIRECTION 6: Migration and Integration

GOAL: Migration policies and practices in Armenia are endorsed and reformed.

The overall goal of migration and reintegration strategic direction refers consistent work in two directions- advocacy, awareness raising and protection of migrants’ rights and sustainable assistance to individual migrants. For one thing, the migration related policies in national level are either not in place or lack at all. For another, (potential) migrants must be duly informed to ensure safe migration or get empowered enough to be able to support themselves at home. To this end, firstly, consistent advocacy activities are to be held to make sure that (potential) migrants’ rights are addressed. Secondly, awareness raising campaigns for (potential) migrants are to be conducted. Thirdly, there is a need to apply individual reintegration plans for returnees. Fourth, cooperation with Russian NGOs is to be established to pursue RA labor migrants’ rights in the Russian Federation. Finally yet importantly, community development as well as income generating initiatives are to be funded.

Outcome 6.1: (regarding emigration): Safe migration is practiced through empowerment of potential migrants and advocacy for safe migration policies.

Outcome 1 aims at ensuring migrant friendly legal framework. On the other hand, it strives empowering (potential) migrants to be well informed before departure by providing pre departure training and conducting awareness raising campaigns. For the empowerment of the potential migrants, it’s important to contribute to building community resilience and to decrease the level of emigration.

What is more, in cooperation with Russian partner CSOs, RA labor migrants are to be protected in the Russian Federation. In addition, communities and (potential) migrants are be empowered to be able to generate income or maintain infrastructures.

Outcome 6.2 (regarding immigration): Returnees and refugees are supported for sustainable (re)integration.

Outcome 2 implies activities more of an individual character such as providing social, legal assistance packages to beneficiaries for returnees from the EU states as well as providing vocational training sessions and toolboxes for refugees or people in refugee like situations. However, advocacy for unified approaches for returnees, for the prevention of negative impacts resulting from migration, and for more access to rights for refugees/migrants is to be adopted too.

 

STRATEGIC DIRECTION 7: Institutional Development of AC

Goal: Improved program design and quality management capacity of Armenian Caritas 

Resulted from the tendency of continuously widening activities of the organization it becomes difficult to ensure proper follow-up and unified approach towards the diverse programmatic basis. Thus the main processes of institutional development often lack the due attention and response.

To improve the program design and quality management capacity of Armenian Caritas a Program Design Quality (PDQ) Unit and procedures need to be established. The PDQ Unit will be responsible for the establishment and follow up of the quality control mechanisms, for overseeing and providing staff development possibilities with its special attention to the Advocacy and Communication fields as well as the diversification of the funding sources and fundraising capacities of the organization.

Outcome 7.1: A Program Design Quality Unit (PDQU) and procedures for its operations are established.

As a result of recent IA exercise AC team together with the pool of experts has identified the strong need for modernization of management systems and relevant program design, implementation and evaluation systems. This will improve the “political” decision-making in terms of fundraising, programming, communication in the organization, flow of information, improve standardization of program/project management, decrease personnel related risks, and solve many other issues. As a first step, AC will identify personnel of the PDQ and define rules for their operations and rotation. Specialized/customized enterprise management software should be installed and staff trained for using it, but alternatively other communication and project management software can be considered. The financial system of AC allows generating reports per programs and per donors on quarterly basis, but the established PDQU will look for installation and use of comprehensive Program Management software. Alongside with the unified program quality framework, a post for Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for the central office will be opened, program managers and officers will look for relevant opportunities of training on program quality management, establish clear mechanisms for internal monitoring and evaluation, establish systems for valid and responsible program and partner exit and sustainability strategies. PDQU will work to establish synergies between programs and projects to ensure cost-effectiveness and prevent duplication of efforts and double coverage of beneficiaries.

Outcome 7.2. Program design, management and quality control mechanism is improved and followed.

AC has classical project-based structure, which is suitable for the functions of the organization. To be able to operate effectively this type of structure, the organization will look for improvement in its structural, documental and practical systems on project design, management, monitoring and evaluation. The PDQU team will develop and approve a more unified approach in these aspects and launch a clear-cut program quality framework.  PDQU will employ clear mechanisms to ensure projects are implemented according to AC values, environmental ethics, Code of Ethics, Code of Conduct, Partnership Principles, Child safeguarding policy, etc. The process will be further managed through design and implementation of a five-year fundraising strategy based on the seven strategic directions of AC with clear identification and achievement of funding targets.

Outcome 7.3 AC staff receives continuous training and development possibilities

To achieve key outcomes under the 7 strategic goals in the AC 2017-2021 Strategy the team will develop a comprehensive OD plan that includes the results of the training and learning needs assessment of all AC staff. The needs and opportunities will be matched and gaps will be analysed. AC staff will identify learning objectives and discuss those with line managers with concrete timelines and funding possibilities. Staff will continuously monitor their own learning and understand its advantages and compatibility with program design and implementation processes.

Outcome 7.4. Assure continuous development in Advocacy and Communication of Armenian Caritas

It is clear that AC will address the strong need for unified, fully agreed strategy for external communication for AC, which will be derived from all programmatic communication plans and implemented by the PR and Communications Department. The strategy will be adequately resourced and time-bound with clear indicators for monitoring and evaluation. The organization will design and implement its external communication firstly using the content of its Advocacy Strategy and will ensure targeted messaging to all public. AC will adopt a strategic approach for collaboration with press and media. Consistent messaging of AC advocacy positioning will be agreed with senior management and will support the achievement of AC strategic advocacy goals. Considering impact of AC organization should increase its presence in existing networks or develop and facilitate networks in the fields of its expertise and interest. This will add to the influence AC has on the policy making, provide additional tools for influencing and add to the visibility of the organization.

Outcome 7.5. Diversified funding sources of Armenian Caritas and improved fundraising capacity

PDQU and the team will design and launch a five-year fundraising strategy that clearly identifies how AC will achieve its 7 strategic goals with the existing and forecasted financial resources and all leveraged resources to obtain funding gap to reach set targets. The strategy will map out, plan donors and their engagement action plan, and assign roles and responsibilities.  AC team will continuously monitor the competitors in the market, amend the donor/funding partner engagement plan as necessary, conduct relevant meetings and reviews. In addition, the team will insert efforts to strengthen donor partnerships at political level and will look for additional diversified funding resources to strengthen its funding pool from non-traditional financing. The team will conduct a robust research on possible paid service provision, as well as a cost-benefit analysis.

 

SECTION 3: RISK ANALYSIS AND MANAGEMENT

This risk analysis and management plan focuses on risks that are specific to this strategy in general and the seven strategic directions in particular. It does not include day-to-day operational risks that are common to most programmes in the world (e.g. risk of fraud, risk of non-acceptance by communities, exchange rate fluctuations, etc). Our risk analysis and the management actions in this plan are grounded in the analysis and aims of the 2017-2021 Programme Strategy of AC. This section includes risk classifications (severity and likelihood), main scenarios of risk management options and key responsibilities. It is highly recommended to review this chart on a six-month basis to remove risks with low likelihood and analyse emerging ones in accordance with PESTEL/Country Context information review.

Risks specific to the entire strategy

  1. Funding risks

  • There is no sufficient funding to implement the strategy and programmes

  • Certain cash-cow donors may withdraw as AC is unable to turn them into rising stars

  • There are no sufficient and sustainable diversified funding sources

  1. Risks in Communication Work

  • Low visibility that may create a vague understanding of AC profile and impact

  • Low percentage of use of relevant communication skills to achieve advocacy objectives

  • Part-time involvement of AC PR Officer

  1. Policy advocacy risks

  • Retarded/unfavourable State ordering mechanisms

  • High competition in the market for social contracting

  1. Financial management risks

  • lack of unified annual budget to allow for more effective financial management and fundraising

 The detailed risk register is presented in Annex 4. It outlines major actions identified by AC staff for risk mitigation, avoidance and transfer. It is recommended that the risk register is reviewed in line with the review of this Strategy.

  

SECTION 4: PROGRAM QUALITY FRAMEWORK

With Armenian Caritas Strategy placing a clearer focus and demand on program quality, it becomes necessary for Caritas to develop processes and invest in manpower to deliver top quality programs. AC Program Quality Framework (PQF) (see attachment XXX) seeks to support AC objective of developing quality programs with demonstrated impact. The Program Quality Framework and accompanying guidance and tools have been designed to improve program quality through more consistent and unified approaches and better guidance for AC staff implementing projects – helping to reinforce good practice.

The program quality framework for the Program Strategy of AC (PS) is aligned to the period of the PS (2017-2021). It presents an integrated set of systematic processes of data gathering, analysis and reflection that will allow AC generate relevant and valid knowledge and information towards informed and evidence-based decision making and learning.

Key elements that compose AC program quality framework are:

  1. Management structure responsible for M&E

  2. Monitoring of indicators, including indicators and indicator definitions including corresponding methods of measurement

  3. Operational monitoring: tools and mechanisms for monitoring continuous activity implementation and outreach

  4. Evaluations, both internal and external

  5. Accountability: mechanisms for feedback and complaints, sharing of information and participation.

  6. M&E capacity and training needs

  7. Budget needed to implement M&E activities

AC strategy Logical Framework, M&E Plan, General Implementation Plan, Detailed Implementation Plan, Indicator Tracking Table and other tools are offered to AC staff (see annexes 2 and 3) to strengthen quality of AC program development and implementation and improve program effectiveness and impact among vulnerable communities.