Moldova: It’s a real city life - but better!

29 ianuarie 2009

Calfa, a small rural Moldovan village, has felt the drain as parents have had to leave their families behind so they can find work abroad and send money home. The numbers are startling – more than half of the kids at the village school have one parent working abroad, and many have both.

As the small village becomes even smaller, those who have stayed behind are coping, and finding ways to work with what they have. The village primary school is a great example. Calfa is not a wealthy community, but residents have pitched in, and the kids now have computers in their school, and parents provide a lot of direct support to the school itself, helping out with programming and special events.

With support from the Social Investment Fund supported by the World Bank, the village has been able to repair the leaky roof that was dripping on students, and to upgrade to a gas boiler so that the school consistently has heat without someone needing to shovel coal all day to keep a fire stoked. The main road of the town, previously decayed to the point that kids would come to school covered in mud, has been resurfaced, and drainage has been installed, so that the improvements aren't washed away.

" Children are not walking through the rain, there is drainage, there is easier access for transportation and the community as a whole feels better. "

Paraskovia Kravtsov

School Principal

For each of these projects, the citizens of Calfa have fronted 30% of the capital, and the remainder has been provided by grants from the World Bank's Social Investment Fund (SIF). The fund supports priorities selected by the community itself, and the projects are managed by councils made up of community members. The community recently voted to pipe in gas for heating and cooking, and Calfans supplied 15% of the cost the project, with the SIF making up the difference.

“If the population did not support the projects, we never would have been able to accomplish what we did, because there is no other financial backup,” said Mayor Ludmila Ceaglic.

One elderly Calfa couple celebrated their 50 th anniversary this year, and as the first pair in town to be connected to gas, they had even more to celebrate.

"The SIF project has lifted 50% of our work load,” says the husband, who has lived in his house for only slightly longer than he's been married. “ We don't have to cut wood, it's much cleaner, and where before there was no hot water, now we have a bathroom, we can take showers! Now we have time to enjoy old age. It's a real city life. But better! We have fresh air.”

But there is more that the village wants to achieve. The mayor has plans to build a senior's residence, to improve street lighting, and hopes to increase water connectivity to the 10% of Calfans who currently get their water from a well.

Later on, some of the money for these projects may come from the SIF, but in Calfa, as in other villages and small towns across Moldova , the community council set up through the SIF is finding additional resources on its own. Through the SIF, over 700 community-based organizations were created across the country. They contributed 15% towards the funding of 225 sub-projects and went on to launch 105 new projects on their own in collaboration with local governments, without any help from the SIF at all.