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Message from

Dr Raffick SOREFAN,

Chairman, NEF

Alleviating Poverty through Good Governance and Accountability

Alleviating poverty in Mauritius is one of Government’s priorities in its fight to combat social exclusion, discrimination and other forms of social injustice that undermine the country’s socio-economic development. Public funds are spent on pro-poor programmes, projects and services aiming the empowerment of the needy and vulnerable ones. But in the process of providing decent living conditions to those who are striving for a better life, one cannot lose sight of the guidelines, protocols and procedures that feature Good Governance and Accountability.

Good Governance should be at the centre of an organisation’s actions and interventions as it matters about money, more so when public funds are involved. Every cent spent should be for a purpose and should be easily justified. Every project implemented should be easily measurable in terms of achievement and easily answerable to the audit office and those to whom we are accountable. Accountability is guided by Good Governance and ethics, where those who are concerned should not have a profiteering culture, but should be in peace with his/her consciousness.

Receiving money through commission, bribery and corruption is a blatant and obvious proof of the saying ’making money on the back of poor’. Combating poverty should be addressed with seriousness, professionalism and compassion. In our quest to promote social inclusion as an objective to uplift the poor in the mainstream of the society through empowerment programmes, values should prevail.  Good governance requires management capability, responsiveness and accountability, but also integrity.

Integrity is one of the core values in the workplace and it reflects the personality of employees when it matters mostly about decision taking. Integrity, honesty and loyalty as a bulwark against corruption should determine the ethics and character traits of individuals. Integrity should be the key driving force of any action taken, where decision implies one’s consciousness.

In line with UN Theme to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October 2021, treating our fellowmen with respect, particularly the vulnerable ones, is a way we advocate that no one should go to bed hungry.

Editorial

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Mrs. Wendy KAN JOHN BEGUE

Programme Manager, NEF Rodrigues

Rodrigues’ beneficiaries easily adhere to NEF programmes.

The success of a programme or a project or an initiative depends a lot on the degree of adherence of the recipients of the said programmes. A project write-up could be fluently written and well presented, but the implementation process could be undermined if there is no adherence by the beneficiaries. In Rodrigues, those benefitting from NEF services, mostly women, adhere easily to what is proposed to them as instruments to fight poverty. And many of these households in Rodrigues where women are the sole breadwinners have been empowered due to their sense of adherence.

To adhere to what the authorities are offering as projects, schemes, services or any other kind of facilities, is what is expecting from the needy ones. Adherence to something means that the recipients must feel one with what is being proposed to enhance their living conditions through self-empowerment, economic empowerment, family empowerment and community empowerment programmes. It’s also feeling coherent, consistent, agreeable or to be in accordance or in conformity with a concept, an initiative, a programme, a project or a decision.

In fact, women in Rodrigues translate their adherence to NEF services through their commitment which in itself brings value in what they do. Proud to play a crucial role in the socio-economic development of the island – the famous octopus hunters are blatant examples of courage and devotion – these women in most cases have not been blessed by academic studies, but stand as models for their children and families.

NEF’s motto ‘Help us to help you’ (‘Ed Nu Ed Zot’) invites the beneficiaries that they also have to play their part if they want to succeed in life by acting as partners of the Foundation. Thus, an excellent way to merge or consolidate themselves with other stakeholders to ease the process of building forward together aiming ending persistent poverty.

Communication at the National Empowerment Foundation

The Communication Unit is central to the NEF as it disseminates information on the different services, programmes, projects and activities. Different and valuable stakeholders as well as the public in general rely on the accuracy of the information to form individual opinion, or joint opinion about the NEF.

In order to achieve the objectives, the Communication Unit not only designs pamphlets, brochures, posters, banners and flyers to inform its beneficiaries and the general public about NEF services, but ensures a prompt intervention through the SMS System has been set up whereby beneficiaries are instantly informed about important matters.

The Communication Unit has introduced an Information and Support Unit (ISU) i.e a helpdesk to respond to complaints, queries and refer the attendees to other institutions and organisations.

A third initiative of the Communication Unit is the Life Enhancement Education Programme (LEEP). This is a training programme that equips people with the social and interpersonal skills that enable them to cope with the demands of everyday life. It consists of 13 sessions and are conducted in an interactive manner to encourage dialogue between trainers and beneficiaries.

The fourth aspect of the Communication Unit includes photo shooting, video creation and advertising whereby indoor and outdoor activities are covered for the beneficiaries. The different training programmes addressed to beneficiaries are also covered and published through email and NEF website.

NEF website (www.nef.mu) shares the latest information to the public with regard to vacancies, invitations for tendering notices and communiqués posted in newspapers. The Website is fully managed by the Communication Unit.

Training as an instrument for empowering bénéficiaires

Vision:

Right training opportunities at the right time to the right beneficiaries

Mission:

  • Training needs assessment of beneficiaries;
  • Liaise with training providers and ensure enrolment for beneficiaries;
  • Continuous assessment and monitoring throughout training sessions;
  • Secure job opportunities for beneficiaries; and
  • Create a culture of continuous development and self-learning.

About Training and Employment:

One of the actions proposed in the Marshall Plan against Poverty report is to “Enhance access training and placement opportunities for the poor” through expanding existing training and placement programmes to the needy ones. The Foundation’s approach is to empower vulnerable groups through training to allow them to take charge of their journey aiming progress  and graduation from poverty to motivate them, be an active part of the change, thus inspiring others to do so.

Based on the training needs of the beneficiaries, the panoply of training courses is funded by the Foundation. Through income generating activities, beneficiaries realize their strength and potential to solve their problems, improve their lifestyle by increasing their income. Beneficiaries take advantages of opportunities coming from different government schemes.

Enhancing food security in the context of Global pandemic

The roll-out of the Backyard Aquaponics project by the National Empowerment Foundation in July 2021 is as an equal opportunity effort to female headed SRM eligible households to ensure food sufficiency.

With ten beneficiaries from all over the island this project, as a new concept to sustainable fish and vegetable production, aims to integrate backyard or rooftop aquaponics culture into the daily lives of single also women headed vulnerable families with access to low-cost organic local product and to also  promote food security and livelihood. Its objectives are as follows:

  • To strengthen the capacity of poor communities to become self-reliant and sustain their Livelihood.
  • Create self-employment for their sustainable livelihood.
  • Provide necessary support for formation of self-help groups or cooperatives, and micro enterprises, and also provide guidance in terms of marketing their products.

Funded jointly under the Gender Mainstreaming budget and welfare unit of the police department, the project costs around MUR 450,000.

A three days training programme started on 7th July 2021 to disseminate theoretical and practical skills. After successful completion of training, the aquaponics kits will be handed over to each family starting September and completion by October this year.

It is with hope that by the end of the project the beneficiaries will be engaged in Income Generating Activities, they will be economically sound and socially integrated. 

Although on a commercial scale aquaponics is still a young industry, however, we are thus optimistic that our beneficiaries be part of the agricultural market share thus enhance their economic and livelihood resources. Also, other types of outcomes are expected, like distressed and vulnerable single mothers will gain self-confidence and will be self-reliant, and learning to cooperate and work together to achieve a common goal.

Case Management the soul and heart of the NEF

Case Management relates to the stories of shared time between NEF Field Staff and their beneficiaries who are families living in absolute poverty, registered and found eligible under the Social Register of Mauritius (SRM).

Case Management has enabled the NEF to truly define what we do and who we are and clarify our contribution towards empowerment and poverty management. It is by telling this story that we understand our roles, our behaviour, and the value of our core activities in the field of poverty and psycho-social support to vulnerable families.

Since the year 2017, NEF embarked into Case Management to ensure that vulnerable families are benefiting proper pro-poor services and which respond to their social, educational, psychological, health, and economic needs.

Case Management entails the duty of a professional social worker to serve the poor with much compassion and dedication, to bring a change in the latter’s life. The smallest change is significant enough to ensure vulnerable families that someone is there to support them at times of problem or dismay when all other avenues seem blurred.

Logements Sociaux de la NEF

Un toit. Une maison décente. Nous aspirons tout à avoir un toit sur notre tête pour nous et nos familles ; Pour nombreux de nos bénéficiaires à la NEF cela relève d’une quasi-impossibilité étant donné de leurs situations précaires.

C’est ainsi qu’en 2016  le gouvernement a décidé de venir de l’avant avec un mécanisme pour venir répondre au besoin de ces  bénéficiaires depuis 2016. Ce schéma vise à aider à hauteur de 80 % du coût de la construction d’une maison d’une superficie de 50 m2 et clé en main pour nos bénéficiaires ayant leur propre terrain ou ayant un ‘state land lease’. La NEF, à travers son unité de gestion des projets qui se trouve sous ma responsabilité, s’attelle à construire des maisons entièrement en béton et avec toutes les aménités nécessaires pour que nos bénéficiaires et leurs familles puissent jouir d’un chez-soi convenable dès le premier jour où ils reçoivent les clés de leurs maisons de la NEF.

À ce jour, la NEF a construit plus de 200 maisons en béton pour ses bénéficiaires. Nous avons aussi près d’une centaine d’autres qui sont déjà en construction ou qui seront très bientôt sous construction. De concert avec les différents Districts concernés, le département de gestion des projets prend en charge tous les aspects menant à la construction complète de la maison, c’est-à-dire depuis l’élaboration des plans, en passant par l’application pour les permis de construire au niveau des collectivités locales, jusqu’à la supervision des travaux pendant la phase de construction.

Il incombe à nous tout techniciens et personnel administratif faisant partie de l’unité de gestion des projets de veiller à ce que les travaux de construction des maisons par les diffèrent constructeurs dont les services ont été retenus par la NEF se fassent dans les règles et paramètres requis et établis.

Management of Human Resource

The National Empowerment Foundation (NEF) is an equal opportunity employer that has always been focussing on its internal customers, i.e. its employees. No rocks have been left unturned  with a view to minimising the risk of an employee or prospective employee of being discriminated against. Recruitment, training, selection and employment have so far been promoted on the basis of merit.

Challenges are sure to arise in every organisation around the globe, specially during this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, at the NEF, it is well illustrated in Human Resource’s challenges. Management has consistently tried its best to inculcate a culture that provides its most valuable asset, that is, its employees,  with the motivation to learn more and sharpen their abilities.

The hurdles that HR department faces differ every day, and they assist the HR team to be better professionals. All actions taken should be in line with the corporate objectives and norms of the organisation as well as other issues such as employee grievances, recruitment and selection, training and development and talent management. Amidst these numerous obstacles, the area that is most  distinct is dealing with the grey areas.

The success of the organisation depends  on all its staff members with the support of the  human resource team. The HR department is in charge of ensuring that all HR issues are dealt with as per set procedures and in line with prevailing labour legislations  in Mauritius. Therefore, to handle this enormous responsibility, the HR team must understand the job’s everyday challenges so as to better work out the solutions. Under the guidance of the top management and the collaboration of the National Empowerment Foundation Employees Union (NEFEU) all set objectives have been successfully met.

Education, key to exit from poverty trap

As we usually say that Education is the key to success in life; Education has always been and should be the way to exit from poverty. As such, investment in Education remains the key to break the cycle of poverty.

A lack of Education in one’s life makes it difficult to get out of poverty because choices for employment are limited. With limited income in a household, it becomes more difficult for the children of the family to become educated, and the cycle continues as in years those uneducated children become heads of households. The more people become educated, the more the intergenerational poverty cycle is disrupted. With better education, people are able to find better opportunities and create better conditions for a decent living for themselves and their families.

This is why the Government of Mauritius invests a lot in the Education of the children  through the setting up of series of pro-poor policies for helping these children to perform much better at schools. Though the children are benefitting from free transport and free education, the Government has come up with the Child Allowance Scheme to encourage children to attend schools. The Child Allowance Scheme is payable up to a maximum of three children in a household.  Moreover, to cater for the material deprivation of children from vulnerable families, the NEF makes provision of school materials which consist of bag, school uniforms, socks, shoes and stationeries.

Social upliftment from poverty cannot bypass the access to information. To further gain access to technology and be connected to the world, the Government has made provision of Free Internet Broadband to all households registered and eligible under the Social Register of Mauritius(SRM). With the provision of tablets to encourage e-learning, a greater scope of opportunities is accessible to the children to research, share, engage, communicate, and develop skills that will prepare them for work, life, and responsible citizenship. Thus bridging the gap of the Digital Divide.

Other schemes that have been put in place by NEF to award students for their success is the  School Premium. The School Premium is payable to students who have successfully passed their National Certificate Examination, School Certificate, Higher School Certificate and Tertiary Education.

These schemes encourage students to work hard so that obtention of School premiums  may help them to pursue higher studies having as objective a planned and successful future.

Medical Screening for NEF beneficiaires

Health is higher on the international agenda than ever before. The more so, the health of poor people is an important issue in the socio-economic development of a country. Beyond its intrinsic value to individuals, health is also central to overall human development, and may play a major role in the fight against poverty.

Debate on the correlation of poverty to health has been going on for decades. More central to this debate in recent times is the argument whether poverty leads to ill-health, or poor health is a precursor of poverty. Breaking the vicious circle of poverty and health related issues is an essential condition for economic development.

The connotation of ‘health is wealth’ certainly implies good health is the most expensive asset that a mortal possesses. A healthy person is more effective in life, and he can perform any task.

Therefore, the role of health programmes aiming reduction of  poverty is an integral component of poverty elimination strategies.

Health screening is an effective way to detect a specific disease at their pre-clinic stages, even when there have been no symptoms or signs of the disease. Detecting a condition early means getting the right treatment at the right time, thus allowing patients to have a better control over their health. To better respond to the needs of vulnerable households, the National Empowerment Foundation organizes Medical Screening exercise for its beneficiaries across the island.

Common tests conducted such as Blood Pressure Test, Mammograms, Diabetes test, and eye screening are conducted at during the Medical screening sessions:

NEF medical screenings have many positive outcomes and have its objective met all the time. There have been various cases whereby the screening has been able to detect health issues and enable timely treatment, for example a Mammogram screening could signal a disorder that a beneficiary had and which could develop into breast cancers if not treated. There are beneficiaries have who have been diagnosed as diabetes patients after positive blood test results. Detecting a condition or disease early can help to prevent a chronic disorder from developing. Furthermore, complications can also be avoided by health screening.

The National Empowerment Foundation is committed to sensitize its beneficiaries for a better health and lifestyle among others since it is an effective empowerment agent for the integration of vulnerable groups into the mainstream society.

Empowerment starts from early childhood

Children are like blank papers when they are born.  It’s a frightening concept, yet children will become what adults tell them they are in their early years. Setting good paths for our children to follow since their early childhood is of utmost importance if we want to empower our children. In view to support parents nurturing their children to believe in themselves for a better tomorrow, the government is implementing a series of policies which would develop resilience in children and allowing them to bounce back from whatever life throws at them.  Matter of fact, children get self-respect when they recognize that they are great creators of their own worlds.  They tend to improve their self-esteem, feeling of self-efficacy, ability to solve problems, as well as their interest in and ability to engage with issues that are occurring in their environment.

The NEF in its endeavour to assist its SRM eligible beneficiaries, empowers the child from the start of their childhood through its Crèches Voucher Scheme which targets children aged 3 months to 3 years who are duly enrolled in registered Crèches.  The scheme includes a grant of up to a maximum of Rs 2,000, payable on a monthly basis to the registered Crèches where the child has been admitted and ensure he/she is being cared for in a safe environment conducive for his/her early childhood development.

Encouraging a child from the very beginning through proper educational system, will only lead to a better primary, secondary and ultimately tertiary level of education.  Once they do better in school, they are more likely to make consistently excellent life decisions and, in a nutshell, they may anticipate a better and healthier life.  Simply said, a healthy and eventually successful child is one who is happy. And a happy child is more likely to build healthy and supportive interactions in the society.

Children are like blank papers when they are born.  It’s a frightening concept, yet children will become what adults tell them they are in their early years. Setting good paths for our children to follow since their early childhood is of utmost importance if we want to empower our children. In view to support parents nurturing their children to believe in themselves for a better tomorrow, the government is implementing a series of policies which would develop resilience in children and allowing them to bounce back from whatever life throws at them.  Matter of fact, children get self-respect when they recognize that they are great creators of their own worlds.  They tend to improve their self-esteem, feeling of self-efficacy, ability to solve problems, as well as their interest in and ability to engage with issues that are occurring in their environment.

The NEF in its endeavour to assist its SRM eligible beneficiaries, empowers the child from the start of their childhood through its Crèches Voucher Scheme which targets children aged 3 months to 3 years who are duly enrolled in registered Crèches.  The scheme includes a grant of up to a maximum of Rs 2,000, payable on a monthly basis to the registered Crèches where the child has been admitted and ensure he/she is being cared for in a safe environment conducive for his/her early childhood development.

Encouraging a child from the very beginning through proper educational system, will only lead to a better primary, secondary and ultimately tertiary level of education.  Once they do better in school, they are more likely to make consistently excellent life decisions and, in a nutshell, they may anticipate a better and healthier life.  Simply said, a healthy and eventually successful child is one who is happy. And a happy child is more likely to build healthy and supportive interactions in the society.

Safety and Health

At NEF, we believe that sustainable success can be reached only through people. No other asset in the organisation is as important as its staff. Their contribution through their work is an asset to our culture and our business results. Therefore, we devote all the necessary energy and attention to protect our employees and any other people involved in the organisation.

To be at the forefront of accident prevention at the Foundation, we implement the mandatory NEF Occupational Safety and Health Management System, which meets or exceeds the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 2005, Mauritius.

At NEF, we build a proactive safety culture by: – driving the implementation and continual improvement of the NEF Occupational Safety and Health Management System through communication with employees; – educating, training and equipping employees to ensure that they are empowered to avoid unsafe situations and to respond promptly to unexpected events.

NEF recognises the critical role of senior management to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. As an integral part of managing the organisation, NEF managers – at all levels under the guidance of our CEO – are accountable for managing workplace safety and health with strong leadership and credibility. Their annual objectives include a contribution to the safety culture and performance of their employees.

Last but not the least, when it comes to COVID-19, then the safety and health of our employees is what matters the most to us. To achieve same, NEF has made accessible the COVID-19 Safety and Health protocols  to all employees. The  detailed document depicts out the sanitary measures/precautions that employees need to follow and adopt while at work, and to maintain business continuity as well.

STAY SAFE & STAY STRONG, LET’S FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19 TOGETHER !

Staff Welfare

Recognised by the Registry of Associations, the National Empowerment Foundation Staff Welfare Association was registered on 31 May 2021. The main objectives of the association would be to provide sports, recreational and welfare opportunities.

The association shall also cater for health and general wellbeing of employees of the National Empowerment Foundation. Moreover, in a bid to cater for urgent familial and educational needs, the association will provide financial support to employees.

The association aims to promote participation of its members in benevolent activities for the welfare and wellbeing of the needy persons through the organisation of fund activities.

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