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Cooperation with humanitarian relief organisations

Food assistance is distributed in Somalia via the World Food Programme (WFP) using electronic registration

Food assistance is distributed in Somalia via the World Food Programme (WFP) using electronic registration, © WFP/ Karel Pinsloo

14.01.2021 - Article

Who can receive funding abroad within the framework of humanitarian assistance? What are the Federal Foreign Office’s funding principles?

The Federal Government provides humanitarian assistance through the Federal Foreign Office in close collaboration with the humanitarian organisations of the United Nations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and specialist non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Projects selected to receive support are chosen on the basis of the Policy Paper on Funding for Federal Government Humanitarian Assistance Projects Abroad.

What projects can be funded?

Humanitarian assistance measures, such as the construction of emergency shelters or the provision of medical care, require specialised skills and rapid responses. For this reason, the Federal Foreign Office cooperates with suitably qualified partners to implement specific projects. These partners include humanitarian UN organisations (e.g. UNHCR, WFP, OCHA), the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (e.g. ICRC, IFRC, the German Red Cross and other National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) and German and international humanitarian NGOs. Germany also works with NGO umbrella associations or think tanks to offer humanitarian assistance, particularly for measures which aim to improve the capacity of the international humanitarian system. These partnerships with funding recipients in the field of international humanitarian assistance are based on the targets and principles set out in the document Federal Foreign Office Strategy for Humanitarian Assistance Abroad.

What projects can be funded?

The logo of Germany’s humanitarian assistance
The logo of Germany’s humanitarian assistance © Federal Government

The humanitarian divisions within the Federal Foreign Office fund humanitarian assistance and demining projects as part of its international crisis response work. General poverty reduction and development cooperation measures, including transitional assistance for development and capacity-building, fall within the remit of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Funding principles

Until a funding guideline comes into force, the key reference document for allocating funds to relief organisations is the Federal Foreign Office Policy Paper on Funding for Federal Government Humanitarian Assistance Projects Abroad.

Applicants are expected to have experience in humanitarian assistance and in dealing with donations or public funds. They must also be non‑profit‑making and must accept the Federal Government’s arrangements for funding and accounting. The Federal Foreign Office’s usual policy is to provide deficit funding while the humanitarian relief organisations themselves bear responsibility for the projects. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, the Federal Foreign Office only provides funds for those items of expenditure which the agencies’ own resources do not cover.

The legal basis for the allocation of funding is the Federal Budget Code (BHO). The Code cannot be used to establish a legal claim to funding.

Humanitarian organisations regard the constant monitoring and improvement of the quality of their own work as a key part of what they do. Every organisation has its own approach, depending on its structure, size, main tasks and other factors. While the Federal Foreign Office recognises this diversity, it nevertheless aims to standardise quality assurance on the basis of a catalogue of criteria (“quality profile”) which it has drawn up. This does not apply to UN organisations and the ICRC/IFRC. 

Relief organisations should only apply for funding for humanitarian assistance measures after they have confirmed with the humanitarian divisions within the Federal Foreign Office that they are in principle eligible for humanitarian assistance Funding.

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