The International Partnership for Human Development (IPHD) began its Moldova Program in 1994, with a first shipment of 500 metric tons of milk powder in 1995-96. The first effort was a monetization program. Over $550,000 was raised for local food purchases to feed 5,000 children in pre-school centers, 2,000 children in orphanages, 2,000 children in hospitals and to set up three soup kitchens for Caritas. Over $300,000 was expended on local purchases of medicines and medical supplies, material support for nurseries, a nutrition/health educatiuon program, and for transportation and storage of local foods. IPHD covered administration or management costs from its own funds, both in Moldova and at U.S. headquarters. This program, as all programs to the end of 2007 in Moldova has been carried out through its local NGO partner, Medical Foundation of Moldova, and to a lesser extent through Caritas Moldova, a Catholic Church organization.
Since this first program, IPHD has entered into 15 USDA agreements for Moldova. It has had one large $11 million USAID grant, and three smaller projects. In total, IPHD’s program value since the beginning of its activities in Moldova stands at around $135 million.
The 1994/95 program was followed by a 1,150 metric ton food aid program in 1996 that monetized 350 tons of vegetable oil for $300,000 and with USDA donated foods fed over 6,000 children in orphanages, hospitals, a home nursing program, and about 634 children at the Genetic Disease Center who were suffering from a variety of genetic diseases mainly as a result of the Chernobyl disaster. Funds were used to purchase supplies such as linen, soap, towels, mattresses, etc., for orphanages, hospitals and nurseries. IPHD continued to support Caritas soup kitchens in Chisinau, Balti, and Cahul.
In 1997, the USDA agreement reached 1,625 tons of food and 21,234 children were targeted. Monetization proceeds funded additional supplies, and equipment for hospitals, nurseries, orphanages, and other institutions. In the 1998 program, IPHD fed over 8,000 children with US foods and monetized 320 tons of milk powder for $650,000 which were expended on medical supplies, orphanage needs, material for boarding schools for handicapped children, soup kitchens, a nurses training program, a nutrition/health education project, and an environmental health program. Training and education programs incorporated Western health practices. Over 300 nurses were trained. Guidelines were developed for child nutrition and a growth surveillance system pilot tested and adopted. Brochures, posters, videos were developed and disseminated to health and education facilities. A video was produced on environmental health, and ten regional workshops were held for health and education personnel. Two national conferences were also organized. This program was highly successful in changing attitudes towards health care.
In 1999, IPHD had two USDA food aid agreements, one for 1,950 tons of food commodities and the other for 10,000 tons of flour, of which 2,260 tons were monetized and 7,740 tons were converted into 3,202 tons of pasta. The pasta was distributed to over 299,000 people. This distribution benefitted 4 orphanages, 232 nurseries, 270 schools, 45 hospitals, 67 home nursing activities, 7 Caritas centers. Additionally, 148,376 elderly pensioners living on $7 per month or less benefited by pasta distributions through mayors’ offices at a time when the government had difficulty meeting the $7 monthly pension payment. This program saved the lives of many elderly in Moldova. With $151,000 in monetization proceeds, IPHD paid storage and transportation for the pasta, purchased utensils for school lunches, and bought coal to heat schools during the winter. With the second 1999 program, IPHD reached 17,547 other beneficiaries with rice, beans and cooking oil in orphanages, pre-school centers, children in hospitals, and primary schools. These two programs provided many children the only food for the day. Monetization proceeds netted $309,000 and were used to continue the 1998 activities, except that when a shortage of baby formula occurred, this program filled the gap.
In 2000, IPHD signed two agreements with USDA for food programs. The first agreement provided 10,000 tons of food commodities, of which 4,020 tons of bread flour and 200 tons of vegetable oil were monetized to provide $639,974 for projects. A total of 282,907 needy people suffering from an acute food shorgage in Moldova received monthly allocations of US donated rice, cornmeal, vegetable oil, and pasta. IPHD had over 1,000 food distribution sites, which were monitored quarterly. $640,000 was also received from monetizing 4,002 tons of bread flour and 200 tons of vegetable oil, funds that went to support Caritas soup kitchens, additional purchases of baby formula and nursery needs, and to initiate a farm rehabilitation and grants program to address the on-going farm crisis in Moldova. In addition to pensioners, 42,000 children in primary schools mainly in southern Moldova received pasta lunches,with another 15,313 children in orphanages, kindergartens, etc. also benefiting.
In 2002, through a Food for Progress agreement with USDA, 12,676 metric tons of food were provided to IPHD for Moldova, of which 5,972 tons of bread flour and 980 tons of rice were monetized to raise $852,940. The direct feeding program reached 14,219 children in orphanages, health centers, homes for handicapped children, and 165,000 elderly pensioners with monthly pasta rations. A total of 4,890 tons of pasta were distributed in addition to rice, cornmeal, and vegetable oil. With $852,940, IPHD supplied six Caritas soup kitchens, provided cash grants to some 250 farmers to rehabilitate their farms, mainly for seeds, tools, rent of machinery, and for irrigation canals. Most of the farmers were located in the poorer southern regions of the country. In addition , over $200,000 was used to purchase coal to heat 300 schools in the 2003/04 winter months.
In 2003, a new Food for Progress agreement was signed with USDA. It provided 11,161 metric tons of food to IPHD. From that total 4,157 tons of bread flour and 2,367 tons of rice were monetized and raised $1,168,560 for project support. A total of 3,613 metric tons of additional bread flour were converted into over 1,500 metric tons of pasta for distribution to orphanages, hospitals, homes for disabled children, and families in need. Rice, vegetable oil, and dehydrated potatoes were also distributed. IPHD used monetizationproceeds to rehabilitate 393 farms in southern and central Moldova, to train youth in bee-keeping, and to set up 10 bee-keeping farmer groups, and to complete over 50 cash-for-work community projects. Over 800 workers participated in the cash-for-work program and while IPHD provided cash for wach hour worked, workers and communities contributed a total of $33,145. Projects included repairs to schools, clinics, water supplies, roads, and similar activities benefiting communities.
In 2001, IPHD signed a new USDA agreement, this time to initiate and develop a school lunch program in Moldova under the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program. Except for the food provided to schools by IPHD in 1999-2000, the school lunch program had virtually disappeared from Moldova after 1992. IPHD would now try to reinstate a national program, especially at kindergarten and primary school levels. This Food for Education (FFE) program was among the first group of 25 or 30 FFE programs approved worldwide by USDA. The Moldova Program may have been among the largest 2 or 3 FFE programs. This first agreement provided 28,400 tons of U.S. foods of which 2,005 metric tons of rice and 9,500 metric tons of bread flour were monetized to provide $1,420,000 for transportation and storage of foods distributed for school lunches and for related project activities. This was a large undertaking, built on the current infrastructure at that time, but it still required IPHD to increase its staff to about 55. Some 6,900 tons of bread flour were converted to 3,000 tons of pasta for school lunches. Besides expending $105,450 on local food purchases, IPHD distributed American rice, corn-soy mix, and vegetable oil to 377,883 school children in 2,780 pre-schools/ kindergartens and primary schools at a momthly ration of 5.8 kilos per child, plus locally purchased foods. These were provided as prepared meals daily. IPHD in 2002 opened up school lunches in almost 2,500 of the 2,780 schools, a feat that will take some effort to duplicate.
IPHD entered into three additional Food for Education agreements with USDA – Fiscal Years 2003, 2004, and 2005. The 2005 program did not begin until September 2006. By the end of the FY 2005 Food for Education program, IPHD distributed 42,147 metric tons of foods to over 370,000 children in primary and pre-schools on a nationwide basis. Approximately 95 percent of all children between the ages of 5 and 11 in Moldova received US-donated foods from IPHD. Over 3,500 schools benefited. Another 13,910 metric tons of bread flour were monetized.
The program was a vast success. The program not only re-institutionalized a school lunch program, but it employed 6,300 cooks, 110 bakery employees at the pasta factory, 310 transportation workers and drivers, 200 government warehousemen and administrators, besides IPHD and Medical Foundation staff. In total, the program generated employment for 8,000 workers, and $2 million annually in income for the workers. But the economic impact of this program was much greater. When the program began in 2001/02, the Moldovan Government provided no funding. By June 2007, it provided over $21 million annually. Without IPHDâ€™s involvement, this government allocation would not have been made. It was incrementally made in order for IPHD to transition the program by mid-2007 to government and community funding. For the 2006-07 school year, the following contributions were made:
Government of Moldova $21.00 million Local community transport 0.50 million Warehousing 0.25 million School storage/ fuel/etc. 0.30 million PTA & other community contributions 7.00 million Total local inputs $29.05 million
During those years, IPHD organized and strengthened 750 parent/teacher associations and over 700 other community school support groups. These groups have a membership of over 200,000 persons. They provide additional funds, fruits and vegetables, fuel, repair kitchens and school buildings, and have become a strong advocacy for more government funding. Some groups have also developed school gardens and water systems.
In 2005, IPHD transitioned to government support 125 schools, mainly in Balti and Chisinau.
In July 2007, IPHD transitioned to government and local support groups over 3,000 schools and 370,000 students. This was the first USDA NGO supported Food for Education program successfully transitioned. IPHD is proud of its success, especially as this was done on a nationwide basis in Moldova.
Among its other programs, IPHD received an $11 million grant from USAID to provide fuel, mainly coal, and to repair heating systems in schools, health institutions and orphanages in 1999-2001 in Moldova. IPHD delivered 112,000 tons of coal to 1,797 institutions and 144,822 pensioners and many vulnerable families. In total, over 495,000 Moldovans benefited from this program, or one in every 10 Moldovans benefited from this assistance.
Other activities supported by IPHD in Moldova include emergency assistance to flood victims, aid to Caritas, and a supply of donated medical equipment.
Moldova is Europeâ€™s poorest country and the second poorest after Tajikistan in the former Soviet Union. Moldova is slightly larger than the State of Maryland and has a population of 4.3 million. Thirty (30) percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Twenty-five (25) percent of the working population works abroad. While annual per capita income is just under $2,000, most Moldovans earn less than $120 per month.