PAI commemorates 10 years in Yemen [Archives:2008/1199/Local News]

October 16 2008

SANA'A, Oct. 15 – This month marks 10 years of Partner Aid International (PAI) providing rural community development assistance in Yemen.

Founded in 1988 as an international non-governmental organization (INGO), PAI initiated its work in Yemen in 1998 in Wadi Hajjar, west of Mukalla, with a community-based health education program. It selected this area at the recommendation of the Ministry of Planning because no other NGOs were working there and the health indicators were among Yemen's worst.

After five years of participative intervention, PAI successfully has left behind functioning health and water committees, trained dental helpers, midwives and other health workers, and expansions and renovations of schools and clinics.

As work in Mayfa'a was handed over to trained and capable local residents, PAI began a community-based development program in Al-Sawm, east of Tarim, at the request of the health office and the local population there.

The outcomes of this three-year project include trained traditional birthing attendants and health workers, school and clinic refurbishments and expansions, and water projects.

Shortly after beginning work in Al-Sawm, PAI conducted a comprehensive water resources study of Al-Mahrah governorate, logging thousands of wells in GIS format. As part of the project, PAI also tested and promoted solar desalination, efficient irrigation techniques and hydroponic agriculture.

In 2002, an Ibb-based sheikh approached PAI to continue community work previously supported by Jibla Hospital. Based on participative assessments within several communities, PAI began community-based health education with the goal of training health workers, midwives and school health educators.

Because local conflicts made traveling to project sites difficult, PAI moved north to Ibb's Hubaish district and, after conducting community surveys, found that it could continue similar programs there, where it continues its support to this day.

In 2007, community leaders in Khadeer, Taiz and the Abyan Health Office invited PAI to initiate projects in those two governorates. Project funding was secured for both governorates earlier this year and activities will officially begin once the Health Ministry concludes the sub-agreements.

About PAI

PAI works at the grassroots level, identifying felt needs that communities will support financially and through in-kind contributions.

Most of PAI's assistance is training and capacity-building so that communities will be empowered and motivated to take responsibility for their own future. This also results in sustainability after project funds cease and PAI personnel leave the areas.

PAI frequently works in a networking capacity; for example, helping communities organize and solicit assistance from grassroots donors, Yemenis living abroad and local development institutions such as the Social Fund for Development and PWP [I don't know what this one is].

PAI recruits skilled and motivated professionals from around the world to volunteer their time, energy and skills to help advance developing countries. Volunteers learn both the language and culture, and most commit for multiple years.These professionals work in teams to provide project synergy, as well as mutual support in typically rural settings.

Local project personnel typically are community volunteers or personnel from partnering Yemeni government ministries.

Program funding for PAI is approximately $350,000 for 2008 and 2009. Over the past 10 years, PAI's assistance has been nearly $1.9 million; however, it would be valued at more than $5.5 million had it been done by paid international staff rather than volunteers.

What's more amazing is that most PAI donors are individuals, small civic groups and smaller foundations – groups that wouldn't be contributing to Yemen had it not been for PAI's presence here