ACT for Humanitarian Capacity Development in EU Aid Volunteers Initiative

The aim of this program is to build humanitarian capacities and to increase leadership of local and national NGOs in eight disaster-prone countries. The program is implemented by a broad consortium of ACT Alliance members, five of which are European members, and five are southern members. Central in the training program are strategies related to DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction) and EPRP (Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans).

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More and more, disasters seem to have become part and parcel of the daily lives of non-governmental organizations in the South. In order to be able to react adequately communities and organizations need to possess the necessary capacities. When people know how to act in case of an emergency or, better still, know how to reduce the risks of disasters, lives can be saved. This is why the ICCO Cooperation together with 9 other ACT Alliance partners and with support of three European universities has started a 15-months capacity building program, which is part of and co-funded by the EU Aid Volunteers (ECHO) initiative.

During these months, the ten participating member organizations of ACT Alliance will implement the program to train 64 local organizations working in the following eight countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Nepal, Uganda and South Sudan.

The current program was preceded by a pilot project implemented during 2012 – 2013, which by enabling deployments on resilience and disaster preparedness aimed at more appropriate involvement of local actors in humanitarian actions, with a focus on community resilience.

This project is co-funded by the European Union for the ‘EU Aid Volunteers initiative’. Total program budget is Euro 804.886,10, of which Euro 684.153,18 is contributed by the European Union/ECHO.

The consortium consists of the following ACT members: Christian Aid (UK), Diakonie (Czech Republic), DCA (Denmark), ICCO (Netherlands), FCA (Finland), RDRS Bangladesh, Life with Dignity (Cambodia) EECMY (Ethiopia), BOAD (DRC) and the Church of Uganda.

ACT for Humanitarian Capacity Development in EU Aid Volunteers Initiative

Initial situation

The EU Aid Volunteers initiative (EUAV) provides opportunities for citizens of the EU to engage in humanitarian aid. The initiative also funds projects submitted by consortia of EU-based and non-EU based organizations that are aimed at strengthening the capacity of non-EU based organizations to prepare and respond to humanitarian crises and to improve their volunteer management. Local partner organizations approach their European-based donors more and more often with requests for support in the fields of resilience and humanitarian aid.

Partners also expressed a need for organizational preparedness in terms of human resources to be able to quickly upscale humanitarian operations in case of disasters. This program is a response to these needs and at the same time aims at enabling 64 local partner organizations to comply with EU ECHO criteria and standards with regard to hosting and deployment of EU Aid volunteers.

Project plan

The project is a joint initiative of five European-based and five southern ACT Alliance members. The selection of the eight participating countries was based primarily on the following criteria:

  • the country has to be prone to disasters;

  • ACT members have a substantial number of local partner organizations in the country;

  • Based on an assessment of the capacities of the organizations that identified needs and gaps in their knowledge of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans (EPRP) a sufficient number of local partners could be selected for participation in the training program.

In total, 64 local partner organizations are currently participating. The program kicked off with a training of trainers in the Netherlands, after which these emergency experts could start trainings in their own countries. Training is taking place both in country as well as online (so-called webinars). Training consists of different modules in the three main topics (DRR, EPRP and volunteer management) for a total of 3x3 days. Participants can exchange ideas and information by way of an online platform. Regular newsletters are published to inform participants and consortium members.

Target group

The program is targeting 64 local partner organizations in 8 disaster-prone countries in Africa and Asia.


Sustainability is one of the key reasons for this program: as organizations noticed more and more frequently that their development interventions were interrupted by events which had not been foreseen and to whose effects partners were not prepared, the demand for emergency preparation and disaster preparedness became ever more urgent. Considering that the organizations in-country start building their capacities from the self-identified needs/gaps, based on collaborative partnerships the local partners can grow a network of support around disaster resilience and vulnerability reduction activities.

With a focus on self-reliance and an integrated implementation and learning approach, the current built-in sustainability of the program is envisioned to enhance future disaster responses as well as to track benefits across further program work.

Goals overview

The aim of the program is to build humanitarian capacities and to increase leadership of local and national NGOs. The different elements of the training are based on an earlier assessment of the capacities of the organizations, identifying the needs and gaps in their knowledge. Central in the program are strategies related to DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction) and EPRP- (Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans).

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