Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

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EU Aid Volunteers

EU Aid Volunteers Arnoud Keizer and Efrath Silver worked with local communities to ensure that people are better prepared for potential floods and other natural disasters. Undertaken as part of the pilot phase of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative, their deployment was managed by VSO and supported with EU funds. Photo credit: VSO/Peter Caton

The EU Aid Volunteers initiative brings together volunteers and organisations from different countries, in joint action, 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 Volunteers networking platform will be established to facilitate interaction and partnership building, dissemination of information, the exchange of good practices during and after deployment,

Click to enlarge.

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 and the establishment of the legal base of the fully fledged EU Aid Volunteers initiative is completed.

The first call for proposals for the deployment of EU Aid Volunteers and capacity-building for implementing organisations is now open and accepting project proposals from interested humanitarian organisations. . For more information and other funding opportunities, visit the EU Aid Volunteers funding page

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

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 worldwide outside the EU. It also offers opportunities for capacity building of local communities and online volunteering assignments. You can find more info on the factsheet here.
    • 1.2. When will it happen?

      • Tthe 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 acts defining the different aspects of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. Regulation (EU) No 375/2014 has 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:
        • Undergo certification
        • Apply with joint projects to calls for proposals; 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 selection of EU Aid Volunteers will be driven by the humanitarian needs in the sector 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 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. 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 assessed as to the 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 others 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 early 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 type 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 through 2015.
  • 3. Becoming a sending/hosting organisation

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

      • Sending and hosting organisations are entrusted with all the aspects of identification, selection, preparation and deployment of EU Aid Volunteers, as well as follow-up during and after their assignments.
    • 3.2. Is my organisation eligible for certification as sending/hosting organisation?

      • 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:
          • o non-governmental not-for-profit organisations established in a EU Member State
          • o 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. How can my organisation become a sending/hosting organisation?

      • Each organisation willing to take part in the EU Aid Volunteers programme has to go through the respective certification procedure:
        • Sending organisations need to provide an evidence-based self-assessment to show that they comply with and commit to all the standards and procedures of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative, notably its duty of care rules.
        • Hosting organisations need to provide a self-assessment together with three references in order to demonstrate its capacity to comply with and commit to the requirements of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative.
    • 3.4. 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:
    • 3.5. Does my organisation need to pay a fee for certification?

      • No, the certification process is free of charge.
    • 3.6. Can my organisation claim back staff or other costs related to providing the documents for certification?

      • No.
    • 3.7. How long does the certification process take?

      • The Commission will communicate the outcome of the certification to the applicant organisation within six months upon receipt of the completed application form.
    • 3.8. What are the deadlines for certification?

      • The certification process is organised on a rolling basis, so no specific deadlines need to be respected.
    • 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 will be 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.
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