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New Chad NGO Starts Operations

Chad NOW (4/23/11)

Sometimes referred to as one of the most missionary-dense nations of Africa, Chad also hosts many of the large, multinational non-governmental organizations such as UNHCR and The Red Crescent. But with fluctuating insecurity, especially in the eastern regions where Chadians most need outside aid, smaller non religiously-affiliated organizations that serve only Chad are a rarity.

ENVODEV, a burgeoning 501(c)(3) dedicated to small-scale development programs in Chad, is bucking the trend. Enterprise for Vocational Development aims to launch a number of new development initiatives this year, and the projects show the potential for growth.

Among ENVODEV's innovate ideas is substituting "biomass briquettes" for traditional coal fuel - a source of fuel that Chadians continue to use despite being outlawed by the government in 2009. ENVODEV claims the government ban has put Chadians at significant risk for harsh government penalties, when Chadians have few alternatives to turn to.

Since its initiation in September of 2010, ENVODEV has been operating with a skeleton staff, although their numbers are growing. ENVODEV's executive staff is primarily comprised of individuals previously involved with other Chad development operations.

Although still in its infancy, ENVODEV has already encountered its share of challenges. Joshua Lohnes, Director of Development at ENVODEV, described an encounter their field coordinator had while transferring operating funds between Moundou and Doba.

"The car that we have is not very reliable, and it broke down. Night fell, and three armed guys came and threatened him. They took the cash."

Despite the difficult operating environment, ENVODEV's staff remains undaunted. Moving forward with its still-ripe initiatives, ENVODEV is poised to establish itself in an arena almost absent of Chad-committed, non-religious organizations. And in a country where 1 in 10 babies die at birth and the population is still largely illiterate, ENVODEV has the opportunity to bring real change to some of Africa's most in need.

ENVODEV's end goal is quite simple. "We're there to help Chadians with real issues that affect people's lives everyday."

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