Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

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EU Aid Volunteers

/echo/file/eu-aid-volunteers-tell-their-stories-alba-uganda_enEU Aid Volunteers tell their stories: Alba in Uganda

The EU Aid Volunteers initiative brings together volunteers and organisations from different countries, providing practical support in the provision of humanitarian aid and contributing to the strengthening of local capacity and resilience of disaster-affected communities.

Through the initiative, 4 000 EU citizens will get the opportunity to do humanitarian work and help people caught up in crises. The initiative will also provide capacity building for 4 400 people from non-EU, disaster-affected countries and 10 000 online volunteering opportunities.

The EU Aid Volunteers initiative will:

  • Offer opportunities to show solidarity with those who most need it,
  • Provide professional support by well-prepared volunteers to people in need,
  • Benefit local organisations with capacity-building measures.

Trained and well-prepared volunteers will be deployed as EU Aid Volunteers in humanitarian projects worldwide starting from 2016. Apprenticeship placements in the offices of European humanitarian organisation will be offered to provide additional training where needed.

An EU Aid Volunteer networking platform will be established to facilitate interaction and partnership building, dissemination of information, the exchange of good practices during and after deployment.

The initiative will also offer online volunteering opportunities for people both inside and outside Europe, to give support to people already in the field. It will also provide capacity building for local staff and volunteers of organisations in countries hit by disasters where the EU Aid Volunteers will work.

A number of pilot projects were launched by the European Commission's partners between 2011 and 2014 in order to gain real experience during the preparation phase of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. Following the pilot phase, the establishment of the legal base of the fully fledged EU Aid Volunteers initiative is completed.

On 10 and 11 September 2015, the European Commission organised the EU Aid Volunteers "Back to Base II" conference in Brussels bringing together former EU Aid Volunteers and sending and hosting organisations which took part in the pilot phase of the initiative. Around 300 junior and senior volunteers were deployed to various countries in the world to work on humanitarian aid projects during the test phase. Read the event report here.

The EU Aid Volunteers initiative is managed by the Commission's Education, Audio-visual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Read about funding opportunities with the EU Aid Volunteers initiative.

Questions and answers on EU Aid Volunteers

  • 1. About the EU Aid Volunteers initiative

    • 1.1. What is the EU Aid Volunteers initiative about?

      • The EU Aid Volunteers initiative offers opportunities for European volunteers to strengthen humanitarian aid operations globally, outside the EU. It also offers opportunities for capacity building of humanitarian organisations and local communities working in disaster-affected countries outside Europe. Online volunteering assignments will also provide the opportunities for volunteers from around the world to support humanitarian action. You can find more info on the factsheet here.
    • 1.2. When will it happen?

      • The first deployments of EU Aid Volunteers to humanitarian projects outside Europe will take place in 2016. 
    • 1.3. Where can I find the detailed rules of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative?

      • There are three legal acts defining the different aspects of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. Regulation (EU) No 375/2014 established the EU Aid Volunteers initiative and provides the framework for the initiative. Standards and procedures for the EU Aid Volunteers initiative can be found in the Implementing Regulation 1244/2014 and the Delegated Regulation C(2014) 7725.
        * Regulation 375/2014
        * Implementing Regulation 1244/2014
        * Delegated Regulation 1398/2014
    • 1.4. Who does what?

      • Commission:
        • Sets out the priority areas for the deployment and the capacity building to be funded each year, based on assessment of need.
        • Runs the database, the network and communication to promote the initiative.
        • ECHO field offices: Engage with volunteers where relevant; a few may directly host volunteers where need has been clearly identified (as of 2016).
      • Sending and hosting organisations:
        • Through certification, commit to the quality standards in volunteer management
        • In consortia, submit project proposals to undertake capacity building, technical assistance and deployment: select, and provide candidate volunteers with apprenticeship postings, deploy and manage EU Aid Volunteers
      • The Commission Executive Agency EACEA:
        • Manages calls for proposals and tender and resulting contracts and grants
        • Manages the certification process
        • Manages training programme through external provider
        • Provides insurance contract for all volunteers
  • 2. Becoming an EU Aid Volunteer

    • 2.1. Who can become an EU Aid Volunteer?

      • The EU Aid Volunteers initiative is open to EU citizens from a wide range of backgrounds and with different experiences, from newcomers to experienced professionals. The selection of EU Aid Volunteers will be driven by the humanitarian needs in the sector at the time of recruitment and guided by equal opportunities and non-discrimination principles. Volunteers are European Union citizens and long-term residents in an EU Member State.
        Citizens of potential candidate countries, countries from the EEA or the European Neighbourhood Policy may apply at a later stage when the EU has signed bilateral agreements with those countries.
    • 2.2. I am not an EU citizen – can I get involved?

      • Anyone can be involved via online volunteering, and citizens from countries with humanitarian needs can participate in the initiative as part of local capacity building and training activities.
    • 2.3. Are there any age restrictions?

      • The minimum age for volunteers is 18 and there is no upper limit.
    • 2.4. Do I need previous volunteering experience?

      • The profile for each volunteering placement will depend on the humanitarian needs of the hosting organisation and the context of deployment. You will not necessarily need previous volunteering experience. However, please refer to the competence profile of the vacancy you are interested in, in order to understand whether your profile is adequate for the position.
    • 2.5. Which professional profiles will be considered for the EU Aid Volunteers initiative?

      • Each assignment will have its specific competence requirements. Generally, there will be two main volunteer profiles within the EU Aid Volunteers initiative:
        • Junior professionals (Less than 5 years of work experience)
        • Senior professionals (More than 5 years of work experience)
        Each assignment will specify whether the volunteer needed is a senior or junior professional. Some EU Aid Volunteers will have specialist knowledge relevant in the context of humanitarian aid such as logistics and transport, organisational development and capacity building, water and sanitation, protection and shelter, nutrition and health, disaster data and knowledge, medical and paramedical services, etc. Please consult the Annex to Delegated Regulation 7725/2014 for the complete competence framework of the EU Aid Volunteers Initiative.
    • 2.6. I have never worked in a humanitarian setting. Can I apply?

      • You can apply if your profile matched the required competences. As a junior professional, you may be required to first spend up to six months in a European organisation (apprenticeship placement) in order to familiarise yourself with the humanitarian nature of your project.
    • 2.7. Will I be paid?

      • The programme covers your expenses during the deployment, including travel costs, insurances, and accommodation is provided. In addition, EU Aid Volunteers will receive a monthly subsistence allowance covering everyday expenses such as food, local transport and other expenses. Rates for these will depend on the country of deployment.
    • 2.8. Will I be trained?

      • Adequate training is an essential part of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. All EU Aid Volunteers will participate in a centrally organised training programme and be assessed as to their readiness for deployment. The training session will contain modules such as Introduction to the European Union, its external relations and crisis response system; Introduction to humanitarian action, the Union humanitarian aid policy and the EU Aid Volunteers; managing personal safety, health and security; Project management; inter-cultural awareness and scenario-based exercise and many other modules which will be optional.
    • 2.9. Where can I apply?

      • Please note that ECHO does not recruit directly. The vacancies will be published on the ECHO website, and you will need to apply directly with the sending organisation in charge of the specific project/s you are interested in.
    • 2.10. When can I apply?

      • The first publication of vacancies for volunteers is expected to be summer 2016. The deadlines for applying for each volunteer vacancy will be specified in the vacancy notice. New vacancies will be published regularly.
    • 2.11. What will EU Aid Volunteers do during their deployment?

      • The task assignment of each volunteer will be based on a prior needs assessment of the specific context of deployment. Each announcement for a placement will contain a detailed explanation of the activities to be performed during the deployment. The deployed volunteers will work on different types of assignments, depending on their competence profile and experience. The activities performed by the EU Aid Volunteers will be in fields such as organisational development and capacity-building, project management, disaster risk management support, food and nutrition, water and sanitation, etc.
    • 2.12. Where will EU Aid Volunteers be deployed?

      • Deployment countries are to be defined for each volunteer assignment on the basis of real needs on a local level. Volunteers will be deployed in countries outside the EU where humanitarian aid operations take place. EU Aid Volunteers will not be deployed to countries or regions with international or non-international armed conflicts.
    • 2.13. For how long will I be volunteering?

      • The length of deployment depends on the specific project the volunteer works on. This can be from 1 month to over a year.
    • 2.14. I want to help but I can't leave my country/work?

      • You can still help! The EU Aid Volunteers initiative will offer the chance to join an online volunteering platform, where volunteers will have the chance to get in touch with organisations that need support that can be offered remotely.
    • 2.15. What is online volunteering?

      • The EU Aid Volunteers online volunteering platform is a tool that offers the opportunity to organisations and volunteers to get in touch and work together on specific assignments. Organisations and volunteers will need to register in order to have access to the online volunteering platform. More information and links to the platform will be available in 2016.
  • 3. Becoming a sending/hosting organisation

    • 3.1. What is the role of sending and hosting organisations?

      • Sending organisations are entrusted with all the aspects of identification, selection, preparation, deployment and management of EU Aid Volunteers. They shall ensure that the hosting organisation is consistently involved throughout the entire project life-cycle.
        Hosting organisations will receive the volunteers and are responsible for the induction phase, designating mentors and ensuring the provision of adequate accommodation and working conditions throughout.
    • 3.2. Is my organisation eligible for certification as sending/hosting organisation?

      • The EU Aid Volunteers initiative is open to organisation based in Europe and in 3rd countries who comply with the following criteria:

        Sending organisations must:
        • adhere to the standards and procedures of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative.
        • be active in the field of humanitarian aid.
        • belong to any of the following categories:
          • non-governmental not-for-profit organisations established in a EU Member State
          • civilian public law bodies from a Member State;
          • the International Federation of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
      • Organisations established in acceding countries, candidate countries, potential candidates and partner countries of the European Neighbourhood Policy, countries members of the European Economic Area (EEA) can participate at a later stage when these countries have signed agreements with the EU covering the programme.

        Hosting organisations must:
        • adhere to the standards and procedures of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative;
        • be active in the field of humanitarian aid.
        • belong to any of the following categories:
          • non-governmental not-for-profit organisations operating or established in a third country under the laws in force in that country;
          • public law bodies of a civilian character governed by the law of a third country;
          • international agencies and organisations.
    • 3.3. Why are organisations required to become certified under the EU Aid Volunteers initiative?

      • Each organisation wishing to take part in the EU Aid Volunteers programme is required to commit to implement the high quality standards of volunteers management outlined in the EU Aid Volunteer legislation. This is a quality assurance indicator of the management of the initiative.
        Sending organisations need to complete an evidence-based self-assessment form, showing that they comply with and commit to all the standards and procedures of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative, in areas such as duty of care rule, health and safety, equality rules, amongst others.
        Hosting organisations need to complete a self-assessment form and submit it together with three references, in order to demonstrate their capacity to comply with and commit to the requirements of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative.
    • 3.4. Who can act as a reference for a hosting organisation?

      • To apply for certification, a hosting organisation must submit a completed self-assessment form for certification, accompanied by three references.
        The references shall be from a minimum of two of the following groups of stakeholders:
        1. A certified sending or hosting organisation with which the applicant hosting organisation has already had, or envisages to set up, a partnership for participation in the EU Aid Volunteers initiative;
        2. A humanitarian aid partner of the Commission with a framework (partnership) agreement in force, with whom the applicant hosting organisation has successfully worked on a humanitarian aid project;
        3. A relevant international organisation or not-for-profit organisation or public law body of a civilian character with which the applicant hosting organisation has successfully worked on a humanitarian aid project;
        4. An accreditation or auditing organisation that has certified the applicant hosting organisation in areas relevant for the EU Aid Volunteers initiative, in which case the relevant accreditation or auditing documents should also be provided.
        The 'reference template' is to be completed by organisations acting as references for the applying hosting organisations and submitted with the application package. An evaluation of the entire application package, including the provided references, will be undertaken by independent external experts.
    • 3.5. As a humanitarian organisation operating in third countries, is it possible to certify our country programme offices as hosting organisations?

      • Many European organisations have country offices in third countries. Where a certified sending organisation has a country programme office, registered in the third country and with its own legal entity, that country programme office is required to undergo individually the full certification procedure for hosting organisations.
        Where a certified sending organisation can prove that it operates in a third country and where this operation has no separate legal entity, the sending organisation can submit a simplified form for hosting organisation certification.
    • 3.6. What is the process for submitting applications for certifications?

      • The certification process is free of charge and organised on a rolling basis until September 2020, so no specific deadlines need to be respected.
        Within six months upon receipt of the completed application form, the EU Commission will communicate the outcome of the certification to the applicant organisation.
        Evaluation committees established to assess the submitted applications for certification meet monthly. In order for an application to be considered, it must arrive at the Agency's premises no later than 15 calendar days before the 1st day of the month in which the Evaluation Committee meeting takes place.
        Organisations that have failed certification can apply with priority for capacity building for hosting organisation and/or technical assistance for sending organisations.
        Unsuccessful organisations can resubmit an application for certification after 12 months.
        The self-assessment forms for certification are available in English and French only. However, we accept submissions of self-assessment forms completed in any of the official EU languages.
        Submission of self-assessment forms and accompanying evidence are to be sent electronically, using only the following email: Acknowledgement of receipt is sent via email to all applying organisation.
    • 3.7. What is the Participant Identification Code (PIC)?

      • You need to register on the Participants Portal and obtain a Participant Identification Code (PIC) in order to apply for funding and certification in the framework of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. The Participant Portal is the tool through which all legal and financial information related to organisations will be managed. Information on how to register can be found in the portal under the following address:
    • 3.8. Can my organisation claim back staff or other costs related to providing the documents for certification?

      • No.
    • 3.9. What happens once my organisation has been certified?

      • Once you have been certified as a sending or hosting organisation your organisation may participate in responding to calls for proposals published under the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. Calls for proposals for deployment of EU Aid Volunteers are published on ECHO's and EACEA´s website and specify the geographic and thematic priorities of projects.
    • 3.10. What if my organisation fails to be certified?

      • Organisations that have failed certification can apply with priority for capacity building / technical assistance. Calls are published on ECHO´s and EACEA´s websites. Unsuccessful organisations can resubmit an application for certification after 12 months.
    • 3.11. What is the difference between Technical Assistance and Capacity Building for sending and hosting organisations?

      • Technical assistance and Capacity building is a call to fund activities that strengthen capacities for sending and hosting organisations intending to participate in the EU Aid Volunteers initiative.
        Technical assistance is specifically aimed at building the capacity of organisations inside Europe and capacity building is aimed at building the capacity of organisations in 3rd countries outside Europe.
        Organisations may submit project proposals for both Technical assistance and Capacity building.
    • 3.12. How does my organisation undertake a needs assessment?

      • A needs-based approach to the provision of humanitarian aid is essential to ensure aid is provided in different disaster-affected countries according to their respective needs, independent of any external pressure. Furthermore, this approach guarantees the credibility and transparency of EU humanitarian aid.
        A needs assessment undertaken under the EU Aid Volunteers initiative must contain the following elements, at a minimum:
        1. A vulnerability and risk assessment of the country of deployment, including assessment of security, travel and health risks relevant for EU Aid Volunteers;
        2. Consideration of the current capacity of the hosting organisation to host an EU Aid Volunteer;
        3. An analysis of the competences and capacities currently lacking within the hosting organisation and the local community, identifying needs and analysing how they can best be addressed;
        4. An analysis of the expected added value from the EU Aid Volunteer and, where relevant, from the envisaged capacity building support to the hosting organisation and local community.
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