In focus: the Dochas Award for Innovative Programme of the Year

Five development programmes were nominated for the recent Dochas award, with Plan Ireland taking the title home

Hans Zomer, Director, Dochas; Vanina Trojan, Plan Ireland, Programme Co-ordinator; David Dalton, CEO Plan Ireland and Yvonne Lennox, World Travel Centre and event sponsor. Photograph: Dochas

Hans Zomer, Director, Dochas; Vanina Trojan, Plan Ireland, Programme Co-ordinator; David Dalton, CEO Plan Ireland and Yvonne Lennox, World Travel Centre and event sponsor. Photograph: Dochas

 

Last month, the Dóchas Award for Innovative Programme of the Year was awarded to Plan Ireland for their "Promoting Universal Birth Registration (UBR) for Children’s Development and Protection" programme. Operating in Sierra Leone and Liberia, its aim is to register more children at birth, protecting them from exploitation and violence and giving them better access to development opportunities.

To help make this happen Plan Ireland works with local and national governments in Sierra Leone and Liberia to digitalise the birth certificate registration process, making it cheaper, faster and easier for parents to register their children. Despite difficulties the team faced, not least Sierra Leone’s Ebola outbreak last year, 445,188 children have been registered in the first two years of this programme. Registration information is then added to a national database where it can be analysed and used by governments to plan future development for the population.

Child Rights Programme Co-ordinator Vanina Trojan is delighted with the award and the recognition it has brought to their work. “It was definitely a well deserved award. It was very timely and broke a new wave of enthusiasm.” The programme still has one year left of its three-year run, but Trojan hopes this innovation award will give them leverage to explore new funding opportunities and expand the programme.

Four other development programmes were also nominated for the Innovative Programme of the Year. U-Report (Unicef) is a free text message reporting system which allows young people to share their opinions and access information. This technology is being used to allow people to anonymously share their views with governments, prevent the spread of Ebola and offer HIV/Aids counselling. Another runner-up, Insight, (Development Perspectives) offers education to adults who want to help make the world a better place. It teaches people about the world around them, and how to use that information to help their communities.

Female Food Heroes (Oxfam) was also nominated for this award, a competition first launched in Tanzania that invites poor, small-scale farmers to take part in a reality TV show that highlights their innovations in agriculture and provides further training. It also raises public awareness on the role of women as leaders in food production. The final nominee was the ‘Tackling Domestic Violence through working with Faith Communities(Trocaire) programme in Uganda, a violence prevention initiative supported by Trócaire and the Catholic Church.  It is held during advent each year, and sees church leaders speak out against violence in the home, while the community works together to create safer homes.

For more on the Dochas awards see dochas.ie

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