Progetto Continenti is involved since ’89 in poverty alleviation programs in several countries, targeting its interventions to the most vulnerable groups of the population.
It is a laic, non-confessional and apolitical, non-profit NGO (Non Governmental Organisation) for international co-operation. Founded in 1989, it has been acknowledged by the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry in 1999. Since 1991 it has been receiving co-financing by the European Commission for development projects in Developing Countries and for education development projects in Italy.
Progetto Continenti’s interventions in Developing Countries are mainly concentrated in South-East Asia Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam), Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua) and East Africa (Ethiopia, Southern Sudan). Since 2009 it is carrying out microprojects in the PalestinianTerritories.
Globally PC has carried out more than 130 development projects with different public and private donor institutions, 26 of which have benefited of EU funding. PC has a long-lasting experience especially in the management of projects related to health and nutrition, education and training, social welfare, micro-enterprises and credit and food security.
Progetto Continenti strongly believes that self-development is the only way to guarantee actions’ sustainability. Therefore, each project promotes full participation of beneficiaries and local partners throughout the whole cycle (design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation) and includes a component related to local partners’ and institutions’ capacity building.
At headquarters level, projects are handled by professional staff with at least 15 years of experience in project management. Furthermore, PC can count on a roster of experts, associates of the NGO and external, specialized on the different themes related to development activities: water and sanitation, agriculture, land management, micro-credit, education and health.
At country level, PC implements its projects in strong cooperation with carefully selected local partners and pays particular attention in building up sound local partnerships based on a common understanding and a shared methodology. Its partners are always fully involved in local project management and partnerships go often beyond the duration of a single project. Furthermore, for local project management PC avails itself of qualified expatriate experts with proved experience in planning and monitoring, coordination and management of local staff and in financial project management.
As far as its internal organisation is concerned, Progetto Continenti foresees the following statute organs:
- the assembly -the sovereign organ- which determines the strategic planning of the association and elects the board members;
- the board of directors, which executes the decisions taken by the assembly;
- the local-groups committee, that coordinates the activities undertaken by the local groups.
The Assembly decides the geographic areas and specific countries of intervention. The board of directors establishes the projects to be assumed and executed after the Director’s proposal. Objectives, contents and actions related to a single project are discussed together with local partner and beneficiaries. This last operation is in charge of the PC’s Project Department staff. These decision-making procedures apply to all projects, the present one included.
In MyanmarProgetto Continenti (PC) is active since 2003, when it signed its first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Health of the Ministry of Health, since then renewed two times.
In Magway Division PC has always worked on Reproductive Health Issues, with special focus on HIV/AIDS and on Availability and access to safe water and basic sanitation, as they are two of the top priorities of the Dry Zone
Since beginning 2008, PC is performing an HIV/AIDS project co-financed by the Italian cooperation. Up to now around 200 female sex workers (FSW), 360 men who have sex with men (MSM), 870 people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV), 11,700 rural population and 2300 mobile population have been reached by project activities (which foresee: awareness raising, condom use promotion, health service delivery, voluntary confidential counselling and testing - VCCT). Moreover, one MSM CBO named “The Light” has been approached delivering some education activities, while support has been given to the creation of a new CBO, named “Paradise” and composed of PLHIVs. Since 2004, PC has also performed more than 250 traditional theatre plays performed during the pagoda festivals, through which messages on the infection and its transmission mechanism are directed to the general public, reaching about 500,000 persons.
As a matter of fact, based on our experience and baseline surveys carried out (since reliable statistical data are very scarce), PC estimates that in the Dry Zone HIV prevalence ranges between 2 and 4%; in Magway city HIV infected people are about 3,000-5,000, while in Mandalay city their number increases to 20,000-30,000 people.
In alignment to the Myanmar National Strategic Plan on HIV and AIDS, Progetto Continenti intends to broaden activities performed so far, with the aim to reduce HIV/AIDS mortality and morbidity rates among the population in general and specific categories in particular (namely FSWs, MSM, PLHIVs, MP).
In the target area, PLHIVs (People living with HIV/AIDS) report being avoided by others including medical personnel, often because of causal transmission of HIV or because of a perception of PLHIV as immoral and dirty. To overcome the difficulties faced by PLHIVs and other specific target groups like Female Sex Workers (FSW), Men who have sex with men (MSM), Mobile Population and Rural population, Progetto Continenti deems necessary the development of “communities led programs” as an effective intervention for target groups’ care and support.
Apart from this, HIV/AIDS and Reproductive Health (RH) programmes should also aim at increasing the capacity of PLHIVs, affected communities and village health workers to recognize and confront the HIV related stigma and discrimination by addressing it in a holistic manner.
Therefore, it has carried out several multi-sector projects which included project components related to health and nutritional issues, water and sanitation, agricultural production and animal breeding, aimed at reducing beneficiaries’ vulnerability and food insecurity, as well as project components related to local partners’ and institutions’ capacity building. These projects produced results in terms of increased health and nutritional conditions of the poorest population, improvement of primary health care services, diversified agricultural and animal production, increased water availability, set up of alternative income generating activities (especially in rural areas), use of appropriate technologies, increased management skills.
In nearly all projects performed disadvantaged women, women-headed households and household with many children were often the main target group.
Progetto Continenti (PC) operates in Cambodia since 1991, having designed and implemented several health projects. In the past five years, PC’s health-related interventions have been located in the provinces of Siem Reap and Oddar Meanchey. During these years PC has observed, that despite several infrastructural and organizational improvements, the Cambodian health system still bears critical limitations: high costs related to health services, their scarce accessibility and the existence of cultural biases towards their use, thus determining poor health conditions, especially among the poorest.
Rural development and food security related projects, including farmers’ associations, agricultural production improvement and diversification, basic health, water and sanitation has been performed by Progetto Continenti since 1989 both in South-East Asia as well as in Central America and Africa.
In Cambodia in the Food Security sector PC has performed (i) a major water, health and nutrition related project targeted to the rural population of Siem Reap Province, (ii) a major rural development related project addressing food diversification, water and nutrition needs as well as bad human health conditions in Otdar Meanchey Province.
In Myanmar PC has performed (i) a community-based water supply and sanitation improvement projects in the Dry Zone of Magwe Division and HIV/AIDS awareness-raising and prevention program targeted to the rural population of remote areas in Magwe Division (see details below).
Furthermore, a small water and sanitation project is implemented in KayinState in favour of the village population of Majopholi, where no direct access to water is available and health and sanitation conditions are precarious. Water pipelines are constructed to allow access to clean water and health education training sessions are performed at village level.
A major Nutrition and hygiene related project is currently implemented by Progetto Continenti in Guatemala (2007 – 2010) pursuing the aim to increase health and nutritional conditions at community and family level in 15 rural communities in remote areas, focusing on training activities targeted to women community leaders in the field of hygiene, health and nutrition. The methodology applied is based on the principle of “learning by doing”, allowing to optimise local skills and knowledge through interchange sessions and workshops at village level.. More in detail:
Also in Ethiopia, PC is currently performing an integrated project in Awassa, at 275 km south from the capital town Addis Ababa. Activities are directed to disadvantaged women and foresee: training on correct nutrition and hygiene practices, basic health, support to women’s cooperatives.<hr>
 Of these, three have received a co-financing from the EC (ONG/PVD/2002/019-999, n. ONG/PVD/2005/096-965 and n. ONG/PVD/2007/133-823)