Where we work
LCD Ireland plans to close
1 July 2014
After 8 years of operation, the board of Link Community Development Ireland has decided to close.
Highlights of LCD Ireland’s work include:
- Ethiopia: enabling LCD Ethiopia to start its work in the Southern Region of Ethiopia. An initial project which started in Wolaita in 2007 has now become a major Girls Education Challenge project impacting on 117 schools, supported by the DFID.
- Uganda: supporting LCD Uganda to start its work in the Rwenzori region.
- School Health: supporting LCD Ghana and LCD Uganda to build on LCD Ireland research into health, enabling a pilot project to commence supported by the Human Dignity Foundation.
- Global Teachers: recruiting over 50 Irish Global Teachers who undertook a five week placement in a rural school in South Africa or Uganda, committing to deliver a development education project on their return to their schools and communities
- Linking Schools: recruiting and supporting over 50 Irish schools who linked their schools with schools in the Eastern Cape in South Africa and rural schools in Uganda.
Key moments in LCD Ireland’s history include:
i. The acknowledgement of the President of Ireland Mary McAleese who launched the Link Schools Programme: Partners in Development in European Union House in Dublin on 7th October 2010. Launching the programme, President McAleese said that Link Schools Programme was "a journey of friendship, support and solidarity between pupils and teachers in Ireland and in Uganda, South Africa, Malawi and Ghana”
ii. The welcome Irish Global Teachers received from former President of South Africa Mr Nelson Mandela in August 2011. "Meeting Nelson Mandela was like a dream. The Mandelas were unbelievably generous with their time. I'm so sad to be leaving Eastern Cape. I thoroughly enjoyed my time, the people were fantastic, especially the children."
Given our successes, why did we decide to close?
First and foremost, LCD Ireland simply couldn’t raise sufficient funds to enable us to maintain a level of operation that was efficient and could impact in the Sub Saharan Africa as we intended.
We were largely able to impact in partnership with other members of the LCD group where LCD Ireland co-funded common projects. However, 2012/13 was a particularly difficult year for the group as a whole and for LCD Ireland in particular, as recession hit both government funding and individual giving. This impacted as follows:
i. LCD England and Wales general fund income fell by around £200,000 – which represented about 15% of income. This collapse resulted in staff cuts across the group and restricted any opportunity for LCD England and Wales to finance gaps elsewhere with other members struggling with the recession.
ii. LCD South Africa, which had specialised in HIV AIDS work in schools since 2003, had been asked to manage a major project focused on Peer Education in four provinces. When this project was due to end at the end of September, the organisation ceased operations. However, the process of closure remains incomplete.
iii. One of the other challenges which impacted on the group relates to LCD Ireland’s ‘Healthy Schools Project’ delivered in partnership with LCD Ghana, LCD Uganda and co-managed by LCD South Africa, funded by the Human Dignity Foundation. During an HDF review of the project in November 2012, it became clear that neither LCD Ireland nor LCD South Africa had engaged in the management of the project as had been intended, and while there was evidence of impact in the two pilot countries (Ghana and Uganda), following an internal audit by LCD, HDF requested a refund of the funds sent to South Africa that were not spent on the project as intended. Due to their own challenges, LCD South Africa were unable to return the funds to LCD Ireland. LCD Ireland made every effort to mobilise funds internally to complete the project responsibly.
These events led to an internal reflection by LCD Ireland. A decision was made to complete the Irish Aid funded project in Uganda and to endeavour to repay as much of the unutilised funds from the Healthy Schools Project to HDF as was possible.
LCD Ireland has now satisfied the terms agreed with HDF for repayment and has successfully completed its remaining project in Uganda to the satisfaction of Irish Aid. We are grateful for the flexibility and patience shown by the Human Dignity Foundation during this process. The LCD Group should have performed better with the project management for this project and there have been many lessons learned which LCD will need to demonstrate that it has applied to ensure future success.
However, while the project management clearly had challenges, the project delivery team did achieve success. The summary of the external evaluation of the project concluded: "* The school health, hygiene and nutrition project was greatly appreciated at school level and had made a visible and long term impact on how schools organised their grounds, treated female learners, managed the toilets and ensured that learners and some cases staff are properly fed at lunchtime. This should become a standard element in ‘whole of school’ interventions."
Overall, LCD Ireland has played a major role within the LCD group, not just by creating and financing projects, but also contributing to group strategy and group management. One of the challenges LCD Ireland consistently raised was the need for an effective group governance structure which while preserving the independent status of each member, would provide a more effective overall governance protection to the group as a whole. We are pleased that ‘LCD International’ was finally registered in 2013 and that as a result, the LCD group remains viable and is delivering a service to other LCD family members in Sub Saharan Africa.
We are particularly pleased that our initial investment in Ethiopia has now grown to become a major project impacting in 115 schools.
Finally, I would like to thank the board members, staff, volunteers and supports of LCD Community Development Ireland for enabling this journey to take place.
1 July 2014