2021 was not an easy year. The world remained in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with people in poverty bearing the brunt of its effects. Defying the odds, 100WEEKS succeeded in doubling the number of women in the program yet again.
Ivory Coast became the fourth country to host a 100WEEKS program in 2020. Ever since we have focussed exclusively on expanding our existing country programs. In Rwanda we have been active for five years now. Slowly, we have become firmly embedded in the communities we serve. That is why our latest annual report, published earlier this month, is titled Taking root.
Ivory Coast now tops the list
The West-African nation of Ivory Coast saw the largest number of women join the program last year. This explosive growth is mainly caused by the partnership 100WEEKS has entered into with a number of American universities looking to study the effect of cash transfers on children's neurological and physical development.
As part of this massive experiment, 100WEEKS supports 1,000 women with cash. This rapid expansion meant Ivory Coast surpassed Rwanda in terms of program size.
Last year we also took further steps toward greening our program. Working with partners, we distributed solar-cell lamps and high-efficiency wood-burning stoves among our participants. This dampens the impact increased economic activity, driven by 100WEEKS, has on the natural environment and contributes to the effort to reduce global warming.
Cash becomes cash+
In 2021 we put the finishing touches on our intervention. While cash will always remain at the heart of it, the curriculum we offer is now one of the best of its kind and has been rolled out in all our country programs. In addition, most 100WEEKS participants have now joined a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA).