HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 642: 14 November 2012

New fund to benefit the vulnerable

It’s a great day for the Cook Islands,” that’s what NZ High Commissioner John Carter told a large audience on Monday morning, gathered at the rear of Internal Affairs Minister Mark Brown’s office, to witness the launch of the new Social Impact Fund (SIF).
Brown admitted to being surprised at the presence of some 60 representatives from government agencies and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). He thought only about 12 people would be attending.
CSO Chair Niki Rattle introduced the various members of the CSOs attending and acknowledged the presence of Aunty Mau MP and Selina Napa MP.
Also present was a group of four from Massey University in NZ on a project to film and interview local women in leading roles.
It was a grand occasion worth the turn out to mark a new beginning for the funding of CSO projects. Brown said this three year funding arrangement will see NZ contributing $1.8 million and the Cook Islands Government $600,000 for a total of $2.4 million.
A Board will be set up within the next fortnight to consider applications from CSOs for funding. Brown invited CSOs to nominate 3 representatives including a Pa Enua resident, to sit on the Board alongside representatives from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the NZ High Commission and MFEM.
Angeline Tuara is the SIF manager who will be located within the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
This new contestable fund combines funding from both governments and replaces POBOC funding to community groups and NZAid funding under the Community Initiatives Scheme.
The goal of the SIF is improved wellbeing of vulnerable peoples through the contribution of CSOs. There are six priority areas; gender equality, children and youth, elderly, disabilities, domestic violence and mental health.
Two types of funding will be available. Programme funding for the delivery of services by registered CSOs for up to three years ($50,000 to $150,000). Project funding for small, one-off community based projects by community based groups ($5,000 to $20,000).
The first round of programme funding will open on Monday 19 November 2012 and applicants will be invited to submit their expressions of interest by 30 November. Full proposals will be due by 14 December. Support will be provided to develop ideas and will include a training workshop on 3 December that all eligible applicants must attend. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their proposals by 29 December.
There will be only one round of project funding per financial year. The first round will open in the first half of 2013. The SIF Board will confirm the date.
One aim of the fund is to promote greater harmonization of funding to the CSO sector. Aid harmonization is one of the principles of the Paris Declaration, which is the international agreement that guides development agreement practice. In the future, other donors may channel financial support through the SIF.
Applicants should correspond with Angie Tuara at the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the first instance.
The launch was emceed by Aunty Nga (Senior Welfare Inspector)and the opening and closing prayers and grace prior to refreshments, was conducted by Pastor Alfred Morris (Chief Censor at the Ministry of Internal Affairs).

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