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Irish Aid

Maya Ixil women and men await the sentence at the trial of Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt.

Maya Ixil women and men await the sentence at the trial of Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt. Photo: Elena Hermosa, 2013

Irish Aid is the Irish Government’s programme for overseas development

Trócaire and Irish Aid have a long history of working in partnership toward the common development goals of eradicating poverty and inequality in the developing world.

In 2012, Trócaire and Irish Aid entered into a new four-year strategic funding relationship. The overall aim of which is to ensure that poor and marginalised women and men experience less poverty, violence and exclusion by holding governments to account for their use of resources and power.

In 2014, Trócaire received a funding grant of €15.4m that covers the following programmes areas:

  • Governance and human rights

  • HIV

  • Gender equality

  • Sustainable livelihoods

  • Disaster risk reduction

The programmes are being rolled out in 15 countries: Myanmar, India, Pakistan, Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.

Irish Aid also provided support for protracted and forgotten crises in Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Somalia.

In November 2013, Trócaire received €400,000 from Irish Aid to support our work in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan.

The Irish Aid funding grant also supports Trócaire's Development Education programme in Ireland.


Case studies

1. Women’s political participation in Myanmar

Gender inequality is pervasive in Myanmar. It impacts women and girls from all ethnic, cultural, geographical, and religious backgrounds. Women experience higher levels of poverty, lack of access to opportunities, violence and sexual abuse. Central to these issues is the profound under-representation of women in public and political life.

Trócaire’s Gender Equality programme in Myanmar is addressing this. With support from Irish Aid, we are strengthening women’s capacity to claim their rights and fully participate in decision making. We work towards the participation of both women and men in local leadership and ensure key duty bearers promote and protect the rights of women to equal opportunities.

In 2013, the levels of confidence, networking and negotiation skills of the women and women leaders we work with increased. They are now better equipped to claim their rights to participate in decision-making and local level governance structures.

The National Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women was also launched last year (2013), after three years of advocacy and negotiation by Trócaire’s partners.

Read about Won Sa, a young woman from Mon State, Myanmar who wants to show women what they can do


2. Gender and HIV in Latin America

In Central America violence against women and girls living in poverty and exclusion is extremely high. In addition to the physical and psychological trauma, this increases the risk of contracting HIV. Yet, this issue is not a priority for governments in the region.

Little support is offered for women survivors of Gender Based Violence and People Living with HIV.  At the centre of this are deep rooted cultural norms on gender roles and inequality.

Trócaire’s Latin America Gender and HIV programme is responding to this. We’re working towards the elimination of violence against women and the prevention of HIV and AIDS among both men and women. This programme works in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.  

Through Irish Aid’s support, Trócaire has been promoting a change in knowledge, attitudes and practices towards Gender Based Violence and HIV. We’re also working to facilitate interaction and mobilise government support at local and national level.

In 2013 there was an increase in People Living with HIV gaining access to anti-retroviral drugs, health care and counselling services. Knowledge of women’s rights for both survivors of Gender Based Violence and the wider population also increased, as a result of the training of community leaders in legal issues and entitlements.


3. Governance and Human Rights Work in Rwanda

Trócaire’s Governance and Human Rights programme is working in Rwanda to contribute to a just and lasting development. Twenty years on from the 1994 genocide we are supporting reconciliation and peace building among communities. To address persistent underlying social tensions, we are also promoting participatory and accountable governance at local and national level.  

With support from Irish Aid, 2013 saw increased levels of interaction between local leaders and citizens on grass-roots development issues. In Joint Action Development Forums, a district level space where civil society, government and private actors came together to influence development plans, 343 Civil Society Organisations participated. These organisations coordinated actions beforehand and spoke out as a stronger voice.

Community capacity to peacefully manage and resolve disputes arising between neighbours and within families has also been enhanced. More reconciliation associations were formed last year, with a total of 22 organisations bringing together ex-prisoners, prisoners and their families, and ex-soldiers.

Techniques to handle trauma such as the CAPACITAR healing technique have been introduced, with psychosocial assistants trained at community level.

Read Frida and Jean Bapiste’s story of reconciliation and forgiveness


4. Governance and Human Rights work in Pakistan

Statistics from the International Labour Organisation estimate that over 1.7 million people are bonded labourers in Pakistan, but in reality that figure is believed to be a lot higher.

Bonded labourers do not have legal entity and are therefore unable to access basic entitlements, such as the right to social services, or to vote.  They remain extremely poor, disenfranchised, and vulnerable.

Trócaire is working with local partner organisations in vulnerable communities in southern Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) to contribute to a reduction in the numbers of bonded labourers through empowering, mobilising and organising them to demand their legal rights. Successful legal advocacy work by the programme in 2012 contributed to over 8,000 bonded labourers securing their freedom.

The programme also made significant progress at the international level by supporting the inclusion of bonded labour in Pakistan's Universal Periodic Review hearing at the end of 2012. This means that the Pakistan government’s must declare “what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations” to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.

Read the story of Abbas Ali, a former bonded labourer in Pakistan


5. Sustainable Livelihoods work in Malawi

The people of Malawi are highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture and very vulnerable to climate variability and change. Unreliable weather patterns, droughts and floods have increased in frequency and intensity over recent decades.

Trócaire’s Sustainable Livelihoods programme is working to improve household livelihood security through increasing food security and income from farm / off-farm activities. It is also working to reduce vulnerability by improving women and men’s capacities to cope and adapt to climate change shocks.

2012 proved to be a difficult year for the programme with continuing economic challenges in Malawi as well as a prolonged drought from March 2012 especially in the southern area where this programme is based.

With support from Irish Aid, Trócaire provided food and seeds for 2,800 households affected by the drought as part of a humanitarian response.

Despite the difficult Malawian context, the programme assisted households to adapt new strategies, such as increased access to irrigation and the use of drought resistant crops, to enhance their resilience to drought.

Read about an inspiring Irish Aid-funded sustainable livelihoods project in Ethiopia


6. HIV work in Zimbabwe and Kenya

Zimbabwe has the third largest HIV burden in Southern Africa. The annual infection rate among adults (15–49 years old) has decreased from 66,000 to 46,000. Over 500,000 people are now accessing antiretroviral (ARV) therapy through a government-led scheme established in 2004.

However, while these changes have helped to reduce AIDS-related mortality rates in Zimbabwe, the rights of people living with HIV continue to be severely compromised. The country lags behind neighbouring countries in terms of treatment, care and support.

Trócaire’s HIV programme in Zimbabwe works with local partner organisations to address the rights of people living with HIV and to address the issues that are preventing them from managing their status and ensuring their meaningful involvement in this process from grassroots to national levels.

The programme now comprises a network of advocacy teams, providing a structure for people living with HIV to lobby at a higher level on the daily challenges they face.  Real, tangible changes have been achieved as a result.  

For example, an advocacy campaign by Trócaire’s partners contributed to a decision to allocate $300 million to health, representing just half of what was requested by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare but double the initial planned allocation.

Irish Aid also supports Trócaire’s HIV programme work in Kenya.

This country has experienced a reduction in HIV prevalence since 2000, but is still facing a severe AIDS epidemic.  Trócaire’s HIV programme focuses on improving the quality of life of adults and children infected and affected by HIV through testing, counselling, care and support (physical, psychosocial and socio-economic) in line with national strategies.

Read about the 'Iron Lady of Nanyuki', a remarkable Kenyan woman helping her community face up to and cope with HIV