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EU Aid Volunteers: Strengthening NGO’s organisational and technical capacity

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3 May 2018

Chiara Genovese, an EU Aid Volunteer, holds a distribution kit of water filters inside a warehouse in Ain, Lebanon © EU/ECHO

EU Aid Volunteers is an initiative of the European Union that brings together volunteers and organisations from different countries, providing practical support to humanitarian aid projects and contributing to strengthening the local capacity and resilience of disaster-affected communities.

In addition to offering opportunities for European citizens to volunteer in humanitarian projects, EU Aid Volunteers gives technical assistance to organisations based in Europe to help them participate in the initiative, and provides capacity building for local staff and volunteers of organisations in countries hit by disasters.

Until the 1st of June, EU Aid Volunteers is accepting calls for proposals from NGOs for both capacity building and technical assistance. We sat down with Caterine Ebah Moussa, the EU Aid Volunteers Team Leader at DG ECHO, to find out more.

Caterine Ebah Moussa explains the call for capacity building and technical assistance:

Capacity4dev (C4D): What is EU Aid Volunteers?

Caterine Ebah Moussa (CM): The EU Aid Volunteers initiative brings together volunteers and organisations from different countries to provide support to humanitarian aid projects.

It began in 2011, with a series of pilot projects, and was formally established in 2014, with the first volunteers deployed in 2016. Until the end of 2018, we expect to engage about 400 volunteers in the delivery of humanitarian aid and building the resilience of disaster-affected communities.

The European Union provides funding for the selection, training and deployment of EU Aid Volunteers to support aid activities in third countries. EU citizens from the age of 18 and up can apply to be sent abroad by participating organisations for one to 18 months. There is no upper age limit, so I always encourage older people to apply.

C4D: Why should European NGOs consider becoming part of EU Aid Volunteers?

CM: Well prepared volunteers can complement the work of professional humanitarian and development aid workers and create a lasting experience for EU citizens.

Our experience with the initiative so far is that it helps organisations find EU citizens with specific skills that complement the skills of aid workers. Organisations have the possibility to publish volunteering positions with the specific profiles that they are looking for.

For example, organisations can find communication experts to support outreach and awareness regarding gender issues or disaster prevention. EU citizens with an academic background in disaster risk management can also support the preparation of risk assessments and preparedness plans with local populations affected by flooding or earthquakes. Online volunteers, meanwhile, can contribute with research and analyses in the preparation of needs assessments for new projects.

C4D: What about the organisations that lack the experience of managing volunteers?

CM: It’s worthwhile mentioning that the EU Aid Volunteers initiative provides funding to organisations that first need to develop the administrative and organisational skills to manage volunteers.

The European Union has set up a list of requirements that organisations need to fulfil to be eligible to apply for funding for the deployment of volunteers. These requirements include, for example, provisions that ensure the safety and security of the volunteer, the definition of tasks and actions to support learning and development of the volunteer. The funding helps organisations fulfil these requirements.

This capacity-building funding also supports the establishment of partnerships between European and third country organisations. These partnerships are needed to ensure mutually beneficial volunteering placements that can have a positive impact on local communities.

I’d like to mention that we have a call open at the moment for capacity building and technical assistance, which closes on the 1st of June.

DISCLAIMER: This information is provided in the interests of knowledge sharing and capacity development and should not be interpreted as the official view of the European Commission, or any other organisation.

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