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HELSINKI, Finland -- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $1 million dollars to the Family Federation of Finland to support overseas development projects to improve reproductive health in developing countries. The Federation is the first Finnish non-governmental organization (NGO) to receive a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for development projects.
This three-year grant enables the Federation to continue to develop its reproductive health projects in Malawi and Mexico as well as to expand its activity to other countries. The Federation will also undertake active capacity building in project research, design and evaluation. Emphasis will be placed on increasing cooperation among Finnish NGOs involved in overseas development projects.
The Federation's project in Malawi is a pilot project, the goal of which is to develop a model that will help Finnish NGOs integrate different areas of expertise and work together in developing countries. A successful model will enable more comprehensive and cost-effective programming. In the Malawi project, for example, a reproductive health component has been integrated successfully into the health care training project of another Finnish NGO. This model will be applied in other countries with the Foundation grant.
Presently the Family Federation of Finland has three projects supported partly by the government of Finland: adolescent HIV/AIDS prevention projects in Mexico, Namibia and South Africa. The South African project also aims to decrease the number of teenage pregnancies.
The Federation has been involved in overseas development projects in the field of population since 1985, when it initiated with the Mexican family planning association Mexfam an adolescent sexual education project, Gente Joven, in Mexico. Earlier this year Mexfam was awarded the UNFPA Population Award 2000 for its excellent work to promote family planning and reproductive health.
Almost from the beginning of its existence the Family Federation of Finland - which will have its 60th anniversary next year - has been doing active work in international family planning and reproductive health. Since 1986, Väestöliitto has housed the UNFPA information center. The Federation's overseas development work also has inspired confidence among other international donors. The Federation's work has been supported among others by the Rockefeller Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.