Though the project recently received a new name, Astarte began in 1995, the same year that the Reproductive Health for Refugees (now the Reproductive Health Response in Crisis) Consortium was founded. Astarte was established to increase the number of organizations providing quality reproductive health services in crisis areas.
Managed by JSI Research & Training Institute Inc., the Astarte project has built a vision which we still uphold today: To increase access to comprehensive reproductive health care for those displaced by war.We seek to increase reproductive health services for people affected by crisis. We believe an integral part in doing so is to strengthen leaders and local organizations on the ground.
Astarte is the goddess of resilience, fertility, sexuality, and war. All four themes are the cornerstone of the Astarte project which addresses reproductive health in crisis. Despite hardship, leaders and communities in these areas demonstrate great resilience.Astarte, the Goddess of Resilience, best describes the project because of the many difficulties service providers and community members encounter in providing and receiving quality reproductive health services during crisis. Most importantly, it represents the resilience demonstrated by women and girls in difficult conditions.
-Leader and Partner, Rivercess Liberia
Astarte’s logo reflects the broad reach of local leaders, who are in many ways at the center of their communities. As catalysts of change, leaders’ efforts are magnified when they are enabled to connect with donors, policymakers, and resources…a bigger, global picture.
Where We’ve Been
Since Astarte began its work 25 years ago, the project has responded to the needs in nearly 20 countries experiencing humanitarian crises, whether war or natural disasters.
Using small grants, the project has given seed money to initiatives providing reproductive health services in crisis areas. Granting small amounts of money differs from throwing large amounts of money at a problem; it engages grassroots community initiatives and leaders to jump-start their dreams—whether it is a youth center or community health training. Realizing money was only part of the answer, Astarte began working with leaders to strengthen their leadership skills and services in order to better serve their communities. In the past 25 years, Astarte has reached nearly 20 countries and has granted more than $1 million dollars to organizations serving communities in crisis.
Though a global project, Astarte currently works with local organizations in Liberia and Sierra Leone—two countries where war has affected the lives of many people.
Where We’ve Worked in the Past
- Rwanda – Rwandan Women’s Network used an Astarte small grant to empower women and improve their health after civil ward and genocide destabilized Rwanda’s communities.
- Colombia – A small grant from Astarte enabled Profamilia to expand services to those displaced by conflict. Astarte’s grant was leveraged to secure $3.5 miillion from other donors to continue these lifesaving programs. Read more about how Astarte supported Profamilia’s expansion.
- India & Nepal – The Tibetan Department of Health was awarded an Astarte grant to initiate a program for comprehensive reproductive health care for Tibetan refugees in South Asia. Since the grant, the Department has opened women’s centers in 10 settlements and have since reported maternal and infant deaths have decreased.
- Lebanon – Association Najdeh heard first hand from Palestinian women what they needed—a reproductive health educational program. Astarte supported Najdeh in this initiative and it has since reached more than 2,500 women.
- Cote d’Ivoire – Women’s Rights International used a small grant to train displaced midwives how to prevent and decrease incidents of gender-based violence in West Africa.
- Pakistan – Frontier Primary Health Care used a small grant to train its staff on reproductive health to better serve the Afghan refugee populations in Pakistan.
- Tanzania – Uzazi na Malezi Bora Tanzania leveraged a small grant to ensure health providers in Tanzania’s refugee camps were prioritizing family planning. Today, thanks to UMATI’s work, women in these camps have increased access to quality reproductive health services.
Where We’re Working Now
- Sierra Leone
Where We Are Headed
Conflicts are no longer short-term affairs. They have become protracted, lasting many years. On average, a person in the midst of war is displaced for 17 years. In response, great leaders and heroes in these settings are answering the growing needs of their communities, despite the many challenges they face.
We are expanding and applying what we have learned in the past 15 years. We believe it is important to begin partnerships with local initiatives early in a crisis to address a community’s immediate and future needs.
When funding and media attention turns away from a crisis, international relief organizations that had come to serve communities in these areas often leave as well. The communities that remain are often left without lifesaving health services. Investing in community leaders and local initiatives can provide services before, during and after a crisis, even when the international community has left.
If you are interested in learning more or contributing to our efforts, please let us know.
The Astarte project is managed by JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. The driving force behind this project comes from the leaders on the ground. Support from the U.S. includes:
Meriwether Beatty, Project Director
Meriwether has been with Astarte since the beginning. She has worked on reproductive health issues among displaced populations in Asia and Africa.
What has kept her here as the director of the project for 15 years? “Every day, I’m more and more convinced that partnering with local organizations is the best model.”
Molly Fitzgerald, Technical Advisor
Molly came to the project with experience in different African settings and a passion for community-based work.
On the project, Molly works closely with the leaders and staff on the ground. She once encapsulated Astarte by saying, “It’s about offering local communities the benefit of a bigger picture.”
Molly is also an artist and marathon runner.