2020: Celebrating successes in an unusual year

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In a year that’s had more than its fair share of negatives, there sure have been a ton of positives.

We have seen communities come together for the greater good, friends and family reconnect, and a great deal of kindness as communities support each other through lockdowns and sickness. Above all, we have learned that when we work together, and support each other, we can achieve amazing things.

As for us, we’ve continued to grow across the Asia Pacific and beyond with projects underway in Myanmar, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Uzbekistan, and of course — where it all started — our beloved Timor-Leste.

In the spirit of positivity and progress, we’ve been looking back over 2020 and reflecting on how much we’ve achieved despite the disruptions. Spoiler alert: it’s quite a lot.’

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The COVID-19 Cash Transfers Program provided more than 298,000 households with a direct cash payment to help lessen the economic impacts of COVID-19. Together with the Timor-Leste Government we designed and built a near-real time payment monitoring platform to track over US$59 million in cash payments. The program received outstanding feedback from both beneficiaries and local leaders (and just quietly, we’re chuffed that it’s been recognised as a story of significant change for 2020 by DFAT). #AustralianAid

> Read more about the program in this Dev Policy piece.

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We wrapped up the Estrada roads management project and handed over the reins to the Timor-Leste Ministry of Public Works. Building and maintaining quality roads is critical to increasing economic activity and employment, and ensuring access to schools, healthcare and jobs. The Estrada project is strengthening the Timor-Leste Government’s ability to collect and analyse an extensive set of data about road conditions and is now the central tool used to budget, plan and manage the Government’s road maintenance priorities. #AustralianAid #RoadsForDevelopmentProgram #VicRoads

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The Olgeta future-ready skills for Solomon Island youth pilot program saw 56 young rural women complete a custom elearning course delivered via smartphone. The pilot program showed many positive outcomes including improved digital and financial literacy, along with many students reporting that the program had helped broaden their potential career aspirations. #AustralianAid

> Related article: The challenges facing rural women, and how thoughtful tech can help

The MFAT funded Pacific eLearning Program is all systems go with planning and inception phases now complete. The regional program includes the development of content specific to the Pacific Islands, and aims to improve science learning outcomes for year 10 students across Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Vanuatu and Samoa, and will be based out of our new Suva office. It will also offer professional development opportunities and tools to teachers. Thanks to Nanogirl Labs and Wintec for their invaluable support on this exciting program. #MFAT

We continued to support the School Leadership and Mentoring program in Timor-Leste with the Eskola online platform. Eskola helps school leaders monitor education and use data to make more informed decisions about school management. To date, 37,000 classroom observations have been submitted and 20,000 mentor activities reported. #AustralianAid

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We supported Timor-Leste prepare for and manage its response to COVID-19 by producing 3D-printed face shields for health workers, and by quickly adapting or expanding existing projects for timely and accurate dissemination of health information.

The Haroman program was designed to rapidly train over 1,550 health professionals about COVID-19 prevention and control at the outset of the pandemic. We supported Maluk Timor with a custom elearning platform, now used in rural and urban Timor-Leste, to access courses and information about infectious diseases. In 2021, the available resources will expand, giving doctors, nurses and health support staff access to an expanding library of resources covering common diseases and their treatments. The platform works offline and makes learning possible in even the most remote locations. #AustralianAid

The longstanding Liga Inan program continued to expand into metro Dili, with the program now covering over 70,000 of expectant mothers and mothers in Timor-Leste. In addition to encouraging women to access healthcare during pregnancy, the platform served as an important communication tool to disseminate information about staying safe during the pandemic. We are now expanding two related pilot activities, Liga Familia that works to improve men’s responsibility in caregiving, as well the early childhood nutrition activity in the Dili metro. #AustralianAid

In partnership with The Asia Foundation, we are working on the next phase of the Hamahon program focused on ensuring safe and efficient pathways for women reporting gender-based violence, and supporting frontline service providers. Implementation will commence early 2021. #AsiaFoundation

We are working with FONGTIL on the Hamutuk program to improve coordination, data collection and communication across their network of nutrition and food security partners. The program is focused on supporting the collective impact of partners working to improve nutrition outcomes in Timor-Leste. #AustralianAid

As covered in our last newsletter, the COVID-19 Whatsapp Chatbot received positive feedback and continues to be an important tool in ensuring the availability of current, factual information in Timor-Leste. ICYMI — listen to the ABC Radio coverage. #AustralianAid

Our health team worked to support Timor-Leste Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 communications efforts and the dissemination of reliable and timely public health messages. We were able to arrange a collaboration with two of the largest mobile network operators in the country — Timor Telecom and Telemor — meaning we could send SMS based health updates to over 800,000 Timorese per day. #AustralianAid

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Government agencies, development partners, private investors and citizens of Myanmar can now access accurate, transparent data on prioritised major investment projects through the Myanmar Project Bank platform. The platform offers centralised, open information on over US$27billion worth of investments, capturing information from 50 individual government agencies. It is now entirely administered by the Myanmar Government! #GIZ

Improvements to the Mohinga AIMS (Aid Information Management System) this year include the reporting of aid by Partner Groups, supporting agregated reporting by groups such as the EU and its Member States. This brings further clarity to the aid landscape in Myanmar, and lets decision makers create visualisations and reports not only per organisation, but also at the Partner Group level. #EU

In Papua New Guinea, Catalpa and the Department of Implementation and Rural Development (DIRD) are jointly developing a platform to report, analyse and assist with decision making on the Service Improvement Program. The program captures funding of Government projects and services at the district and provincial levels, representing over A$650m per year. DIRD’s objective, supported by Catalpa, is to improve oversight, efficiency, transparency and impact of decentralised projects and district information. #AustralianAid

We’d like to acknowledge the donors and government partners who help make these projects possible: Australian Aid (via DFAT), MFAT, GIZ, UNDP, ILO, EU, and the governments of Timor-Leste, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Samoa, Uzbekistan, Solomon Islands, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea.
We couldn’t do any of this without you.

Interested in learning more about Catalpa’s projects? Visit our website at www.catalpa.io, and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook for the latest updates.

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