Nepali CSOs win $40,000

Kathmandu, May 19:

Three civil society organisations (CSOs) from Nepal has won grants worth $40,000 each from the World Bank’s South Asia Development Marketplace (DM) to implement projects aimed at reducing stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS.

Overall, twenty-six proposals from across South Asia won grants from a $1 million award pool, the multinational donor said.

Titled ‘Tackling HIV and AIDS Stigma and Discrimination: From Insights to Action’, the competition was designed to identify some of the most innovative ideas on reducing stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS. It drew nearly 1,000 applications from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. “Through a vigorous assessment process, the applicants were narrowed down to 75 finalists, who showcased their ideas in Mumbai last week,” according to the bank.

Organising beauty pageants by and for transgendered people, linking people living with HIV and AIDS (PLHAs) with income generation activities and social assimilation and improving the government hospital environment towards PLHAs were the winning ideas from Nepal.

“We will hold a beauty pageant for transgenders soon. The winners will act as ambassadors busting the stigma against HIV and AIDS,” said Sunil Babu Pant from the Federation of Sexual and Gender Minorities Nepal.

Using the funds, they will now have upto 18 months to carry out their projects and bring concrete benefits on how to change the attitudes and practices that undermine effective HIV and AIDS programmes.

“Recognition of these kinds of grass roots organisations is very important,” said Shabana Azmi, actress and social activist presenting the awards. “We have to make sure they are empowered, strengthened and financed so they can carry out their work. This initiative is a small but very important step in the fight against stigma and discrimination.”

India was the most represented country among winners, with 12 of 26 winning proposals. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan followed with three winning projects each. Two winning proposals came from Sri Lanka.

“These innovative, homegrown solutions to fight stigma and discrimination have a huge potential to make a difference in their communities,” said Praful Patel, World Bank vice-president for South Asia who served as a juror during the competition. “I heard from all the participants that stigma is a huge constraint to fight the disease. Now is the time to move from knowledge to concrete actions. We hope these ideas will be implemented, scaled up, and incorporated into the national AIDS programmes.”

The South Asia Regional Development Marketplace is sponsored by the government of Norway, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), UNAIDS, UNICEF and the World Bank Group, including the International Financing Corporation (IFC).

It is a competitive grant programme that uses a transparent process to identify and support grassroots initiatives with innovative approaches to solving challenging development issues. The programme has awarded nearly $34 million to rou-ghly 800 small-scale projects over the last seven years.

The World Bank has granted Rs 2.4 billion in aid, the highest-ever, this year.

Supporting hydropower

KATHMANDU: The World Bank on Monday pledged to extend support to Nepal for the development of South Asian Regional hydropower project. During his meeting with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala at his official residence at Baluwatar, Praful Patel, the bank’s vice-president for South Asia said the bank is eager to assist Nepal in hydropower projects. Patel is visiting as vice-president for the last time as he is retiring after two months. — HNS