February 17, 2012

USAID-Funded Initiative Helps Rural Municipalities Upgrade Health Service

Paraguay Program Provides $1 Million Worth of Medical Equipment to Rural Clinics

Widespread poverty, lack of viable economic opportunities and weak local institutions in northeast Paraguay compel many rural families to engage in illicit activities to generate income.

Local governments are frequently perceived as weak and ineffective because they are not able to respond adequately to the demands for critical, basic public services in rural communities, including health, water and education. The social costs of illicit activities in terms of conflict and crime are immeasurable.

ACDI/VOCA works to change the governance dynamic by supporting bottom-up, locally led development through a range of social and economic activities, including community grants, training and technical assistance, to benefit rural citizens’ daily lives.

Local Government Receives $1 Million Worth of Supplies

With funding from USAID, ACDI/VOCA’s Northern Zone Initiative, or as it is known locally Iniciativa Zona Norte (IZN), works to strengthen local governments in Paraguay’s conflict-affected northern zone.

On February 14, citizens from four municipalities saw their governments in action. With the help of ACDI/VOCA and program partners, over 1,660 boxes of electric hospital beds, medical furniture, laboratory supply kits, electronic diagnostic machines, vital signs monitors, surgical instruments, x-ray machines, and disposable packs and supplies such as syringes, gloves and masks, were handed over to local mayors and the directors of the health centers in the municipalities of Chore, Curuguaty, San Vicente and Capitan Bado.

The event was presided over by U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay James H. Thessin and received extensive coverage on television, radio, print press and social media. This donation, worth over $1 million, improves the health prospects of local citizens and is a significant step forward for these municipalities.

Rural Areas Had Lacked Access to Equipment

The donation was a result of a great deal of collaboration and planning. In 2011, IZN in coordination with national and regional authorities, identified four municipalities that had built local medical posts and small clinics but postponed equipping them because of a lack of funds.

Once the municipalities were identified, ACDI/VOCA worked with Project CURE, an NGO that supports development programs on donations of medical equipment and supplies, to arrange a donation of refurbished medical equipment and new supplies to these centers. IZN facilitated a visit by a Project CURE specialist to conduct an on-site assessment of needs as well as capacity for operation and maintenance of equipment.

Based on the findings, IZN coordinated the inventory of items with local authorities and monitored the shipping and handling of the donation.

Northern Zone Initiative Approach

IZN is a flexible, responsive tool supporting the Paraguayan and U.S. governments’ strategic priorities and providing the incentives to create a platform for reduced conflict and violence in the most volatile areas. ACDI/VOCA’s approach for the IZN program strengthens local governance by involving all stakeholders, particularly local governments, in every facet of project planning and implementation.

Participatory prioritization, selection and implementation of community projects is the foundation of ACDI/VOCA’s approach for community development programs and is vital to secure the commitment of communities, local governments and the private sector to work together for future social and economic investment. The goal is more effective and responsive municipal governments that will increase citizen support for the democratic processes and social stability that encourage growth of the local economy.

Pictured at top left: Local Paraguayan officials accept medical equipment provided with the help of USAID, ACDI/VOCA and Project CURE for their rural clinics.