The work of Finn Church Aid is centralised and effective – Finland about to increase the floods of refugees towards Europe

Cuts on development aid funds mean cuts to humanitarian aid. Reconstruction in Nepal following the April earthquake will take years. Photo: ACT/Christian Aid/Yeeshu Shukla.
Cuts on development aid funds mean cuts to humanitarian aid. Reconstruction in Nepal following the April earthquake will take years. Photo: ACT/Christian Aid/Yeeshu Shukla.

The independent report on development aid: “Tuottaako kehitysyhteistyö tuloksia?” (Does development aid produce results?) by Ritva Reinikainen, published today, clearly states that there is no basis for the now popular claim of the curse of development aid. The research does not support the claim that development cooperation systematically weakens the position of the poor or reduces a country’s own chances for development. Instead, statistical indicators show that poverty has declined conclusively over the past 15 years, also in Africa. Yet, Finland is planning major cut backs to development cooperation.

“This report unfortunately comes too late in view of the planned government budget cuts”, says Jouni Hemberg, Finn Church Aid Executive Director.

“Globally, Finland is becoming a light-weight among supporters of development cooperation. Not all the areas mentioned in the report need to be developed because Finland’s contribution in the future will be minimal. Factually, the cut backs are more than dramatic for NGOs and humanitarian aid. This can make the function of many NGOs very difficult if not impossible. That not only results in unemployment but leaves millions of people without relief they desperately need. In this way, Finland is playing a part in increasing the refugee floods towards Europe.”

According to Hemberg, investing in at least some kind of a development cooperation instrument is now needed.

“It could be supporting the NGOs which already enjoy a great deal of support from the public and which, in the interest of centralising, get their added volume directly from the public,” Hemberg suggests.

The work of Finn Church Aid is verifiably efficient

The report aims to give national guidelines into improving the effectiveness of development cooperation, an area where it sees room for improvement. One of the suggested methods is centralising functions.

Finn Church Aid has been centralising its functions for a long time. During the strategy period 2013-2016, the number of programme countries was cut in half. FCA’s work is also focused on three thematic areas: livelihood, which is accompanied by education and peace, two very traditional Finnish exports.

In the field of peace work, Finn Church Aid is among the top five operators in the world. Between 2008 and 2014, 25 local conflicts were settled in Somalia alone with 18 peace talks currently under way.

Providing education, both as emergency aid and as part of development cooperation, is another area where FCA is a globally renowned actor. The principle of “Linking Learning to Earning” combines the themes of education and livelihood. For example, in Nepal and Congo, FCA’s vocational training for women and young people have directly resulted in 60 to 72 % of the students finding employment.

Emergency aid also threatened

The report by Reinikka calls for a wider evaluation on the effectiveness of development aid and better information on its impact. According to the report, organisations focusing on humanitarian aid are comparatively most effective.

Finn Church Aid is the second largest provider of humanitarian aid in Finland.  FCA also constantly monitors the effectiveness and impact of its work. All levels of programmes and organisation have inbuilt systems of planning, monitoring, evaluating and reporting. These are based on the international Core Humanitarian Standard quality system which enables both internal and external monitoring and evaluation of practices.

“If the development aid budget is cut by as much as 45 %, as the government has planned, the cuts not only affect long term development cooperation, but emergency aid as well. That means our capacity to help people in catastrophes is severely impaired,” sums up Eija Alajarva, FCA Head of Humanitarian Assistance.

Finn Church Aid is the largest provider of development aid and second largest provider of humanitarian aid in Finland.

Further information:
Jouni Hemberg, Executive Director, p. +358 50 325 9579
Eija Alajarva, Head of Humanitarian Assistance, p. +358 40 582 1183
Katri Suomi, Global Advocacy Advisor, p. +358 40 635 1738