2021-22 Annual Report
Skills to Share.
Futures to Build.
Our mission: Reduce poverty and inequality through the efforts of volunteers, partners, and donors.
Our vision: A world where all people are able to realize their potential, develop their skills and participate fully in society.
Our values: Partnership. Respect and Integrity. Accountability.
Message from the Chair and CEO
A cornerstone of Cuso’s development model is that we strengthen the capacity of partners and institutions to make a sustainable difference in the communities we serve. In this way, Cuso is a catalyst for change that improves the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
This year, many issues competed for our attention, not the least of which were the restrictions and effects of COVID-19, geo-political transitions and the ever-present mantle of climate change. In this report, you will read about some of the most important initiatives we undertook:
- Our partners and volunteers’ efforts in Colombia and Cameroon to restore ecosystems and improve economic empowerment for rural women farmers
- Economic development efforts that are helping build resilient livelihoods in countries such as Tanzania, Honduras, and Colombia
- A commitment to bring young people hope for a secure economic future, which has resulted in new programming in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia
- The success of a long-running program to connect vulnerable migrants with employment in Colombia, which is being replicated in Ecuador and Peru
- The impact of our distance learning program in remote Indigenous communities of Canada’s Northwest Territories
We’re still here 60 years on because we want to help build more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable communities. In 2021, thanks to you, our donors, supporters, volunteers, and partners, Cuso’s work touched hundreds of thousands of lives across several continents.
As we develop our new strategic plan, we will continue to advance our work by building on our strengths and impact.
As always, we are grateful to you for joining us on this journey.
Chief Executive Officer
Cuso's focus areas in 2021-22
Women and Gender: Women’s rights are human rights
Women's rights are among the fundamental human rights enshrined 70 years ago by the United Nations. They include the right to live free from violence, slavery, and discrimination, to be educated, to own property, to have access to health care, to vote and to earn a fair and equal wage. Working with our partners, Cuso continued to build gender-responsive programs in 2021 that support these basic rights, in alignment with Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy.
Migrants & Refugees: Leaving home in search of a better life
Behind every migration statistic, people are starting a new life in a new place. Cuso, working with governments and partners, helps integrate and empower migrants and refugees so they can contribute to their new communities.
One such person is Mariana, a participant in Trabajamos por la Migración, a Cuso project in Colombia that helps migrants to find formal employment.
Indigenous Communities: Reflecting Indigenous voices and aspirations
Although Indigenous Peoples make up approximately six percent of the global population, they account for 19 percent of the extreme poor. Improving security of land tenure, strengthening governance, promoting public investments in high-quality and culturally appropriate services, and supporting Indigenous systems for resilience and livelihoods are critical to reducing the multidimensional aspects of poverty. Cuso’s programs support Indigenous Peoples and communities in ways that reflect their voices and aspirations.
Economic Development: Building resilient livelihoods
Robust economic growth is the most powerful instrument for combatting poverty in developing countries and improving people’s quality of life. With a targeted focus on women and vulnerable populations, Cuso works with partners in communities across the world to strengthen their economic empowerment and help create sustainable livelihoods.
Empowering Youth: Changing lives through the power of opportunity
With opportunity, there is hope. And offering hope can change young people’s lives. Our youth-focused initiatives in 2021 provided education and employment services for disadvantaged, marginalized youth—in particular, by educating and training adolescent girls.
Cuso’s five-year U-GIRLS 2 project continues to improve access to higher education for high school girls in Ethiopia’s Benishangul-Gumuz region. U-GIRLS 2 tackles the challenges that keep girls out of school, or that force them to quit. The project raises community awareness about the benefits of attending high school, provides the required books and uniforms and delivers gender-sensitive training as an extra-curricular activity for boys and girls.
An equitable and environmental approach
Many communities Cuso works with rely on the land for their sustenance. As climates shift, the challenges of sustaining local ecosystems increase. By approaching challenging issues in equitable ways, Cuso is helping communities navigate environmental changes and thrive despite them.
Rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall are just one manifestation of climate change in Cameroon. Among the most affected are the country’s mostly women farmers, who produce 80 percent of Cameroon’s food. Cuso volunteer Paul Ghislain is using his background in mathematics and computer science to provide farmers in 213 rural districts with high-quality weather information via a web application that helps farmers plan and manage crops hard hit by the impacts of climate change.
For farmers with no internet access, the information is shared weekly through 40 community radio stations in multiple languages.
Cuso's reach and impact
Latin America and the Caribbean: Colombia, Jamaica, Honduras, Peru, Dominica, Ecuador, Grenada, St. Lucia, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines
Africa: Benin, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania
Canada: Northwest Territories
Thanks to your strong support and generosity, Cuso International’s financial position provides us with a secure basis for our work. Through efficient operations and careful use of the funds we receive, we ensure the majority of our money is spent on delivering programs and supporting our volunteers, partners, and the communities they work with. We will continue to use our resources with great discretion.