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A NATURALLY MOBILIZED SHAHBEYLI COMMUNITY

15-05-2014, 11:19, Saw: 306

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With a history of 240 years, the Shahbeyli village in Aksu rayon is located 12 kilometers from the rayon center. The village is inhabited by approximately 300 people who are unique in their efficiency. Over the years, residents of the village have solved community problems themselves, without the help of government or international organizations. Thanks to their independence and motivation, mobilization of Sahbeyli communities by AzRIP was effortless. The more familiar a person becomes with Shahbeyli, the more interesting the community becomes. According to Aydin Alakbarov, Deputy Village ExCom Representative, in 2001, prior the formation of the concept of a community, the village residents built a mosque at their own expense. Moreover, they paved by hand the road that leads to the primary village school. Until 2001, there were no internal roads in some parts of the village, and its people came together to pave new ones on their own.



In 2009, this community stepped into the next stage of their activities by investing 200 manat to drain rain water into a designated pond. Later, in 2010, they spent another 2015 manat to fill the stagnant water ponds with gravel on the road that connects Shahbeyli with its neighboring Garadaghly village. All costs incurred in the implementation of these micro-projects were accurately documented to ensure transparency, and the community members were given the opportunity to become familiar with those financial records. The Shahbeyli community continued to improve their activities year by year, and in 2010 they managed to establish a community fund in the amount of 476 manat, where each member of the community contributed one manat to the fund every month. Eldar Yadigarov, Community Group Leader, said, “During the last three years at least 25 people have used fund money to solve problems. People mostly used money for funerals and weddings, but they also used it to take patients to Baku for medical treatment, and for loan repayment, animal barn refurbishment and more. In addition, it is nice to know that neighboring Rahimli and Garadaghli villages took advantage of our experience and applied the same mechanism of fundraising”.



For the first time in Shahbeyli community history, the organization they collaborated with was AzRIP. The community group was officially established in June 2013, after AzRIP's familiarization with the community. Elnara Abishova, one of the active woman members of the group, said, “Since 1985 we suffered greatly from the poor state of our roads. Therefore, we proposed that AzRIP fund the road rehabilitation project upon completion of a needs assessment stage. Within 10 days we managed to collect the community contributions, start the rehabilitation of a 5700-meter road and complete the project”. The Shahbeyli community does not intend to restrict its activities to just those achievements. Currently, the fund has enough money to allow the community to prepare cost estimates for the continuation of the current road project. The goal is to solve the road problem within the community’s capacity. Now they can safely say that the sustainability of this project is in reliable hands. Another noteworthy aspect of this community is the public comments and suggestions box they installed in October 2013. According to the leader of the community group, it allows them to assess the community’s needs and problems more closely and seek to assist the people as much as they can.



There are still a number of pending issues in Shahbeyli, including one related to their school. The local municipality recently renovated the school building that was constructed in 1969, but the renovation serves only elementary school students. Secondary and high school students must travel to school in the neighboring Aksu town, located far away from their community. Eldar Yadigarov, Community Group Leader, said they intend to mobilize internal resources during the summer months and will apply AzRIP's resources to a second project, which will be the construction of their much-needed school building. The Sahbəyli community also undertakes community-based livelihood projects. Susan Ibadova, another active woman member of the community group, said that they grow different varieties of pomegranate and bring them to the market for sale and juice production workshops in Aksu and Gabala. But they have a problem in that they often must wait days to hand the pomegranates to the workshop, which wastes time and damages the fruit. Susan Ibadova stated that each community resident is interested in establishing a mini-processing plant in the Shahbeyli community. The income that will be derived from this enterprise may enable them to solve other community problems without any outside assistance. Today we saw a glimmer of hope on the faces of Shahbeyli community residents, and it is a testament to their bright hopes for the future. We wish that this light of hope always shines on their faces and we look forward to their future confidently.

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