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Brussels, 17 October 2011

The European Commission and its humanitarian partners: collaboration that saves lives

For the fourteenth year in a row, the European Commission convenes its humanitarian partners for their Annual Conference in Brussels on 18 and 19 October. More than 350 participants from the partner organisations are expected to attend, making this a gathering of the world's top humanitarian professionals.

This year’s Annual Conference is themed "ECHO & Partners: helping people together". The event is a valuable opportunity to discuss common priorities and the increasingly complex humanitarian challenges. The difficulties of delivering aid in conflict zones and the growing rate of attacks on humanitarian workers; disaster trends and innovative responses; the coordination among multiple humanitarian agencies; future food and nutrition challenges – these are some of the subjects which will be discussed at the conference.

Who are our humanitarian partners?

In 2010, the Commission helped some 151 million people around the world, many of whom needed assistance to survive. Thanks to the solidarity of European citizens, the Commission was able to spend €1.1 billion on humanitarian assistance last year - on the basis of confirmed needs and in like with the principles of neutrality and impartiality. Reaching out to millions of people and making a difference in the face of enormous challenges has been possible thanks to the Commission’s collaboration with partner organisations.

The Commission works with over 200 humanitarian partners, the most professional actors in the humanitarian community. Among them are non-governmental organisations (NGO's), United Nations agencies, other international organisations as well as specialised agencies from the European Union’s Member States.

From Angola to Afghanistan, Libya to Laos, Haiti to Yemen, the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Directorate General (ECHO) and its partners work together to give vital aid to the victims of natural and man-made disasters.

The relations between the Commission and its humanitarian partners are outlined in partnership agreements which define the roles and responsibilities in the implementation of humanitarian operations financed by the European Commission.

Allocation of funds

In 2010, the Commission allocated funds as follows: NGOs: 50%, UN agencies: 39% and International Organisations: 11%. This diversity enables us to deal with complex needs in crisis areas around the world, in a comprehensive manner. This is why the Commission has developed close working relationships with its partners, both at the level of policy issues and of specific humanitarian operations.

The aid organisations interested in collaborating with the Commission on a humanitarian action must submit a sound funding proposal and follow strict guidelines for the project's evaluation and monitoring. The project is subjected to rigorous evaluation as well as control mechanisms to ensure viability and to ascertain that the funds have been allocated appropriately. All proposals are judged on their technical merits, in accordance with ECHO's strategy in responding to any given emergency and on the basis of the "needs" that have been identified.

Monitoring and Assessment

The European Commission wants to ensure that every euro it spends on humanitarian assistance delivers maximum value to the people who need our assistance. This is an obligation toward those we help, but also toward our taxpayers whose solidarity is translated into humanitarian assistance with the help of the Commission’s partners.

How partners turn EU funding into humanitarian actions is monitored and assessed systematically in order to ensure efficiency, accountability and transparency. All projects are continuously monitored through different control mechanisms. The so-called "Fichop" for example (Fiche opérationelle) assesses the humanitarian action throughout its life-cycle and serves as a basis to evaluate the action at a later stage. There is also an annual assessment carried out for all humanitarian organisations. As a result of the annual assessment, the Commission may confirm, suspend or terminate the partnership agreement.

Examples of collaboration

1. Partnership with International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Location: Turkana and West Pokot districts, Northern Kenya

Type of Assistance: Emergency nutrition

Commission funding: €1 million

Number of beneficiaries: Around 15,000

IRC is the leading agency in a joint effort with Action Contre la Faim (ACF) for implementing an emergency nutrition intervention in the two areas. The project is providing aid to 11,770 children under the age of five suffering from acute malnutrition and to 1900 pregnant and breast-feeding women.

This project is treating malnutrition and improving the nutritional status of vulnerable beneficiaries in communities with fragile livelihoods, suffering from drought and high food prices. By providing training on basic hygiene and nutrition practices to the beneficiaries and their families (such as exclusive breastfeeding for children below six months), the communities improve their knowledge on child health, nutrition and hygiene and lives are being saved.

2. Partnership with NGO goal

Location: Woreda and surrounding areas (Oromiya), Ethiopia

Type of Assistance: Nutrition & Food Security

Commission funding: €1.25 million

Number of beneficiaries: Around 130,000

Oromiya and Amhara regions have been severely affected by the drought that rages in the Horn of Africa. Shortages of water and pasture have become critical. Because of the drought situation, it is anticipated that seeds will be scarce in both 2011 and 2012

The intervention deals with severe acute malnutrition among children under five by using community-based therapeutic care; food security for the affected households is also covered by providing seeds and other agricultural assistance to enable the populations to re-establish their self-sufficiency for food. The funding also provides increased access to safe water, training of local staff to identify and refer acutely malnourished children, and Disaster Risk Reduction training.

Other activities include improving clean water supplies at health facilities to support community therapeutic care projects. In addition, food security is being improved through the provision of seeds and fertilisers to around 25,000 households. The main purpose of supplying emergency seeds to vulnerable farmers is to enhance their resilience to shocks

This overall operation is life-saving, especially for the severely malnourished children. Moreover, the intervention will enable people to revitalize their livelihoods and thus is crucial for the early recovery of the affected communities.

3. Partnership with UN world food programme

Location: Sa'ada, Amran, Sa'ana & Hajjah governorates, Yemen

Type of Assistance: Food Assistance

Commission funding: €3.2 million

Number of beneficiaries: 416,800

Yemen is prone to natural disasters such as droughts, irregular rainfall, epidemics and flooding. However, it is primarily the protracted conflicts and uprising in the country which have contributed to the high food insecurity. General food distribution and supplementary feeding programmes for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP's) and their host families are an essential life-line for the often desperate populations, particularly in the north. The World Food Programme provides emergency food assistance for those affected by the conflict as well supplementary feeding rations for vulnerable children.

In this country of limited access to food, water and health services, the WFP is one of the more privileged partners regarding humanitarian access. They are well-equipped to provide life-saving assistance to those in need.

4. Partnership with the federation of the Red Cross

Location: the Pacific

Type of assistance: Disaster preparedness

Commission funding: €446,284

Number of beneficiaries: direct: 262, indirect:400,000

The European Commission supports activities to reduce the impact of disasters through pre-emptive measures at the local level. Pilot disaster risk reduction initiatives were supported in the region, aiming to strengthen preparedness capacities of communities and other local actors, as well as contingency planning and logistic capacities at Pacific regional level.

Based on the positive response from the communities and partners, ECHO decided in to follow-up with € 2 million to enhance the capacity of regional humanitarian actors to play their role in disaster preparedness and disaster response.

The IFRC was funded to build the capacities of its Movement partners in order to build safer and more resilient communities in the Pacific region. The whole communities will benefit of the enhanced capacities of their Red Cross national societies and their partners.

5. Partnership with the German and finish Red Cross

Location: Haiti

Type of Assistance: First Aid & Health Care + basic non-food essentials

ECHO funding: Finnish Red Cross - €700,000; German Red Cross - €340,000

Number of beneficiaries: 92,500

Following the massive earthquake in Haiti in 2010, more than 220,000 people lost their lives and hundreds of thousands lost their homes. In addition to shelter, food and safe drinking water, there was dire need for health facilities as much of the infrastructure, particularly in Port au Prince had been destroyed by the earthquake. These facilities became all the more necessary because of the cholera outbreaks which followed the disastrous natural disaster.

The Commission funded a clinic and a field hospital installed by the Finnish Red Cross outside the Haitian Red Cross headquarters in Port au Prince to link up with the German Red Cross. The field hospital helped ease the pressure on the massively overstretched health system in the aftermath of the quake and provided vital assistance to the sick and injured Haitians. The German Red Cross received funds to provide basic essentials such as soap, cooking equipment, plastic sheeting and blankets to the homeless survivors.

For more information

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

The European Commission's humanitarian aid:

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