Reviewing poverty reduction approaches in Qazvin province
With a population of 1.3 million, composed of Turk, Kurd, Fars and Tat peoples, and a GDP of about $2.5 billion, historic Qazvin province lies on the southern foothills of the Alborz mountain range and is also one of Iran’s main industrial areas. As elsewhere, pockets of poverty and need are scattered across the province – in both the small villages and the main city, Qazvin.
The Imam Khomeini Relief Committee (IKRC) – the Iranian Government’s main poverty-reduction arm – recently organized a two-day visit for Mr. Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator, to showcase its poverty-reduction work covering 50,000 persons in the province.
The start of the mission was blessed by Ayatollah Bareekbin, the Imam Jomeh of the province, and Governor-General Roozbeh. The mission was designed to explore cooperation possibilities between the UN and the provincial authorities on sustainable development, inclusive growth and poverty reduction.
The mission visited the local IKRC centre in Qazvin city which collects funds for the 1,200 orphans supported by the IKRC in Qazvin. The money – mainly supplied by citizens who come in off the street – make a deposit – and then leave – goes to provide for schooling, food and shelter for these orphans so that they can live empowered and healthy lives.
The mission visited Sefideh Kesh, a mainly mud-brick village, with 50 households, 12 kilometers from Qazvin city, where the IKRC has been supporting local families in their rug-making and income-generation work. The IKRC also part-funds the rebuilding of houses to modern earthquake-resistant engineering standards. For these houses, the mission was informed that – as an example – that if a new home costs US$6,000 to build the IKRC would normally fund 70% with the remainder being raised locally and through loans. A visit to Zooyar village resulted in similar findings.
The 2-day mission ended with two events. One was a visit to IKRC’s drug de-addiction centre and an ongoing prevention training workshop, in which ladies were undertaking an awareness raising session. Mr. Lewis spent time sharing his experience drawing upon his own 20-year career in UN drug control work in Africa and Asia. The second was to a woodcutting workshop, were young orphans were making a large woodcut Koran page by page, considered to be unique, and planned to be donated to the Imam Reza Foundation.
At a press conference at the end of the mission, Mr. Lewis said: “the work of IKRC in Qazvin is indeed impressive – and it is being undertaken with strong planning and commitment at the local level.” He added: “The effort of the IKRC is helping families to earn an income and thus live in dignity.”
Remarking on his experience in the two villages he said: “We were particularly touched to witness the sense of community alive and well in these two villages near to Qazvin. In this modern, urbanizing world, we were comforted to see the social cohesion and mutual support of the community, particularly with the care for widows, orphans and the rebuilding of houses to a standard which would enable them to resist earthquakes.”
The IKRC has generally adopted a “capabilities development” and empowerment approach in its work, ensuring training, education, health, employment generation and credit provision for various activities for all the persons under its coverage.
It now provides support to 5 million citizens throughout Iran.
In Qazvin, the UN Resident Coordinator witnessed the effective relief and empowerment work that taking place to support vulnerable groups and people at risk.