Vision Aid Overseas
First launched in 2012 with a £375,000 allocation, our plan had initially been to distribute the full amount through a number of grants. However, following research and consultation with other funders supporting international development work, we concluded that, to achieve maximum impact, the entire allocation should be awarded to one organisation and project (provided a suitable one was identified).
As a result, we awarded a major grant of £366,000 to Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) for a five-year project to increase access to eye care in Sierra Leone following a closed competitive tender. Although the project faced major challenges – firstly, the Ebola epidemic, followed by the mud slide disaster – it nonetheless met its objectives, albeit over a longer period of seven years.
As a direct result of the success of the VAO project, we allocated a further £750,000 to this proactive initiative in 2017 and, in the same year, awarded a major £410,000 grant to Orbis UK for an ambitious project that aims to eliminate trachoma (the leading infectious cause of blindness in the world) as a public health problem in three rural districts in Ethiopia.
With £350,000 of the allocation remaining, in 2018 we made a further grant of £350,000 to Vision Aid Overseas for a three-year Primary Eye Care pilot project, again in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone, to build on the existing infrastructure and human resources established with our earlier 2012 grant.