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.

Read the latest updates and information on the EU AID Volunteers Facebook page 

ACT for Humanitarian Capacity Development in EU Aid Volunteers Initiative

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).

“Thousands of refugees are crossing the border into Uganda as they are fleeing the civil war in South Sudan. This causes even more problems in the northern part of our country. It increases the food shortages that we already have, because all these people need to eat. They also cut more trees for firewood and charcoal, leaving our land without the trees we need. We organise training sessions to teach our communities about conserving the environment. During this training course, I am learning how important it is to include everybody in the community so that we can all move forward. Nobody should be left out, including the refugees.”

“Our region is very hilly. When it rains, the water runs down the hills and causes mudslides. Sometimes whole communities cannot reach the roads anymore because of these disasters. Houses are being destroyed and people may even die. A combination of water and heat can cause the outbreak of diseases such as cholera, which only worsens the situation. We teach our people how they can prevent these disastrous mudslides. For example, they can dig channels to make sure the water is absorbed into the soil instead of running down the hills. This training course is very important to me. I hope to gain further knowledge on how to better protect our community from natural disasters.”

“In Karamoja, in the northern part of our country, people are dealing with drought and hunger. These crises are also partly caused by the people’s mindset. Traditionally, they are pastoralists, they believe in looking after cattle instead of agriculture. But the number of cattle has drastically decreased due to water and grass shortages, and now they have to adapt their lifestyle as well. We try to teach them simple farming practices and irrigation methods to make them less dependent on their cattle and the World Food Program, which is providing basic food. It is very helpful to meet the other participants, because we can exchange experiences and learn from each other.”

“Teddo (ICCO’s local partner) supported the installation of a bio-gas system in our household. We do not know exactly how it works, but the bio-gas itself is made from cow dung and water in a tank underground. From there, the gas goes into a pipe which ends up in our kitchen. We now cook with bio-gas instead of firewood or charcoal, which are apparently bad for our environment. We are happy with this system, because there is no smoke anymore and cooking goes much faster. Our neighbours are inspired by this new method as well, but the system is very costly. Hopefully it will be more accessible for other people in the future.”

“Back in the days, we could just walk a few metres into the lake and catch many Tilapia, Nile perch and tiny fish that we dry on the nets in the sun called ‘millions fish’. These days, we have to go much deeper for a good catch. The water levels are changing and a certain vegetation is invading the lake, two factors that are apparently impacting the amount of fish. In addition, human activity around the lake, such as growing crops close to the shore, is bad for the fish population. We might need to start focussing on other activities to generate income. But our livelihoods depend on fish. It has always been like this. Catching fish is what we do.”

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