Finn Church Aid Executive Director Jouni Hemberg to retire, recruitment process for a new director launched soon  

Finn Church Aid Executive Director Jouni Hemberg to retire, recruitment process for a new director launched soon  

Tomi Järvinen, Deputy Executive Director, will take over as temporary Executive Director.

Jouni Hemberg, 66, Finn Church Aid’s Executive Director since 2015, will retire in late 2022.   

Hemberg joined Finn Church Aid in 2008 to serve as the Head of Humanitarian Assistance. Since then, he has been the FCA’s Director of International Cooperation (2009–2013) and Executive Representative in Washington (2013–2015). 

“My years at FCA have been inspiring and rewarding. What I remember particularly well is the countless field trips and conversations with beneficiaries,” Hemberg says. 

Hemberg says that he is happy to retire. 

“FCA is in good shape and ready to face future challenges. We have had our fair share of challenges during my time as Executive Director: in 2015–2016, the government cut development aid spending dramatically, in 2020 the coronavirus pandemic broke out, and now there is a war in Ukraine. And this is just scratching the surface.  I’ve never had a boring day.” 

For decades, Hemberg has had a front row seat when it comes to international aid work. Before joining Finn Church Aid, he held international positions in UN organisations, the Red Cross and Save the Children International. In the 90s, he worked in an aid organisation in India which was supported by Prince Charles, now King Charles III. 

Hemberg will be on vacation from October 20, after which Tomi Järvinen will take over as temporary Executive Director. Järvinen has worked for FCA since 2013 and was appointed Deputy Executive Director in April 2021.  

The recruitment process for Hemberg’s successor will be launched soon, with the objective of having a new Executive Director in office in early 2023. 

Finland’s largest international aid organisation 

Finn Church Aid, which recently celebrated its 75 anniversary, is a major aid organisation with country offices in 12 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and with the latest addition to country offices just opened in Ukraine.  The organisation employs 4,000 people, most of them in different locations around the world and about 120 in Finland.  

FCA’s Executive Director Jouni Hemberg (on the right) met representatives of other organizations in Lviv Ukraine in May 2022. Also FCA’s Emergency Response Manager Yannic Georis and Head of Humanitarian Response Jan De Waegemaeker were present in the meeting.

When asked about FCA’s recipe for success, Hemberg lists increased funding, innovations, successful recruitments and broad-minded elected representatives who have supported the changes. He also thinks the decision to focus on education, livelihood and peace was the right one, and measures have been successful.  

“Since 2008 FCA has transformed from a 20-million-euro to an 80-million-euro organisation with the number of employees growing from a hundred to nearly 4,000. This is quite remarkable,” Hemberg says. 

FCA ready to face future challenges 

Today, there are many complex global challenges to solve. War is raging in Europe, and East Africa is suffering from a historic drought that affects the region’s food security and the lives of millions of people. 

“Over the past 15 years, our fundraising efforts in all sectors have been quite successful. Now, dark clouds loom on the horizon in terms of both public and private financing,” Hemberg notes.  

Despite challenges, the retiring Executive Director is optimistic about the future.  

“Our strategy and FCA 2030 work reflect the steps we have taken to prepare for the future. Our strengths include flexibility, ability to react and respond quickly when necessary and, last but by no means least, skilled personnel.”  

Read more: Jouni Hemberg, FCA’s Executive Director, addresses 12 claims regarding FCA and its work

Photos for media here. Photo credits Tatu Blomqvist / Finn Church Aid OR Antti Yrjönen / Finn Church Aid.

More information and interview requests: 

Jouni Hemberg, Executive Director 

jouni.hemberg[a]kirkonulkomaanapu.fi 

+358 50 325 9579 

Ulriikka Myöhänen, Communications Specialist 

ulriikka.myohanen [a] kirkonulkomaanapu.fi, 

+358 50 576 7948 

10+1 Lessons learned in development cooperation

10+1 Lessons learned in development cooperation

Various organisations have been engaged in development cooperation for decades; Finn Church Aid for as long as 75 years. While global efforts to reduce child mortality and to increase girls’ access to education have been successful, mistakes have also been made. We listed 10+1 lessons learned in development cooperation over the years.

1. From selfish beginnings.

The 1950s and 1960s were the early days of development cooperation. Back then, Finland’s eagerness to participate stemmed partly from the need to distance ourselves from the Soviet Union and instead be identified as a Western country and as part of the Nordic countries. Over time, development cooperation adopted traits from export promotion: Finland used money intended for development aid to export Finnish machinery and workforce to developing countries, hoping to increase trade in equipment such as forest machines. Many other countries had similar projects.

2. Lack of results necessitated a different approach.

It soon became painfully clear that the modernisation-driven development cooperation model failed miserably, and a new approach was needed. This was when the needs-based approach emerged. But although local beneficiaries were consulted for needs assessment purposes, donors failed to understand the structures and systems that perpetuate poverty and simply saw beneficiaries as passive victims of circumstances.

3. Material assistance is not the way to address inequality.

Today, development cooperation is no longer about addressing poverty as a material need but rather as a human rights issue. Political advocacy can also contribute towards eradicating structural inequality in developing countries, with the objective of creating an effective and informed civil society and an accountable state. Unlike in the early days, the focus is not on supporting industry; instead, social development, health and education are now in the forefront.

4. Strong communities will not depend on external aid.

Perhaps the most valuable lesson we have learned is that there is no point in giving man a fish; you need to teach him how to fish. In other words, our work must be aimed at building on and strengthening local capacities. It is extremely important to discard any forms of aid that create a risk of dependency instead of forging stronger local communities. Paradoxically, however, financing decisions are still made somewhere else. It is funding providers in the western countries who decide how much money will be given to which projects.

5. Giving a voice to the local community.

In some cases, the aid we provide is not what people really need. Sometimes people affected by a crisis may feel that they have not been consulted on what kind of assistance they need, or what would be the best way to channel it. In the worst cases, relief supplies have been unsuitable for the local culture. Modern development cooperation recognises the key importance of local engagement and ownership.

6. Better control and accountability.

Organisations in the development cooperation sector are accountable to their beneficiaries as well as to their funding providers and donors. Recently, there has been much talk about transparency. In the humanitarian sector, the concept of the accountability of aid organisations to their beneficiaries emerged in the 1990s, and the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) was published in 2015. Similarly, technical standards for aid work are being developed and monitored more closely.

7. Climate must be a key consideration in development cooperation.

Environmental work has been a part of development cooperation since the 1970s, but more recently climate has begun to dominate public discussion. The loss of biodiversity is now also on the agenda but while the importance of climate work is recognised, so far policymakers have failed to put their money where their mouth is. Another contradiction that characterises climate work is the reluctance of western countries to compromise on their standard of living while they expect climate action from developing countries.

8. Public opinion supports development cooperation.

In the late 1960s, the Vietnam War made Finns realise that we are not an island. Other subsequent events such as the 1990s recession have shaped the opinions and attitudes of citizens, including their support for development cooperation. According to a recent survey by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, two thirds of Finns consider development cooperation very important or fairly important. For Finns, the most important reason for supporting development cooperation is that it offers Finland a way to strengthen global stability.

9. New partners, new tools.

Today, development cooperation cuts across multiple sectors, with more traditional actors working with research and educational institutions to improve effectiveness and outcomes. Another, more recent development is cooperation with the private sector. Corporate social responsibility provides opportunities for employment and education in developing countries.

10. Change must be constant.

We have learned many lessons, but there is still room for improvement. Sometimes organisational and funding silos can negatively affect efficiency, and putting documented commitments and declarations into practice may take years. Staying relevant is another challenge for western development cooperation, as there is no shortage of competitors. China, for instance, provides funding to many developing countries without making any demands on human rights and environmental protection.

+1: CHS certification a compass for FCA’s work.

In 2017, Finn Church Aid received the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) certification, which emphasises our human rights-based approach and the quality, transparency, and effectiveness of our programme work. It also proves our commitment to the humanitarian sector’s quality and accountability standards. In addition to CHS certification, FCA undergoes an extensive external audit annually. CHS provides us an opportunity and a tool for critically assessing our operations and improving our practices and procedures.


Sources: Anna Muinonen, Senior Quality and Accountability Adviser at Finn Church Aid; Juhani Koponen, Professor Emeritus from the University of Helsinki; development cooperation surveys commissioned by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Corehumanitarianstandard.org


Text: Anne Salomäki
Illustration: Carla Ladau

Adaptation is the key to sustainability

Adaptation is the key to sustainability

Finn Church Aid Annual report 2021 has been published.

AS I LOOK BACK ON THE PAST TWO YEARS, I see how dramatically the world has changed. The Covid-19 pandemic restricted our lives but at the same time encouraged us towards a huge digital leap. Crisis and conflicts are more multifaceted, and climate change exacerbates the situation further. More and more people need our help. And so, I have to ask, what will come next?

A message that has echoed throughout our country and field offices is the effect that Covid-19 has had. I am grateful to everyone across whole the whole organisation for working throughout it, particularly the staff who met the direct challenges posed by the pandemic and found new ways of working. Our localisation strategy puts a lot of responsibility on our country offices, and we reaped the benefit of this trust during the pandemic. Only when government restrictions in our programme countries prevented us, did our activities halt. We came out of the last two years with fresh ways of thinking and new partnerships.

Localisation must be strengthened and it should be advanced at all levels – what we need to do is ensure that our understanding of aid is shared and that we stand with those at the coalface and support local actors. Within FCA, 95 per cent of our staff are from the countries where we work; our Uganda country office is, for example, bigger than our Helsinki office.

”We have proven that we can do things differently and that we can be an agile, responsive organisation.”

But with all that has happened, also considering the recent escalation of the Ukraine crisis, we need to be even more prepared to face the challenges still to come. Conflicts are plenty and protracted, and they exacerbate human rights violations. Addressing difficulties requires a much broader perspective – we need to be open to new solutions, and as humanitarians, we need to do this with optimism. We have to find technical solutions that are grounded in science. We did this during the pandemic, using digital technology in education. We can do the same thing with climate change to find ways to mitigate and adapt to it.

In the Horn of Africa or countries such as Cambodia and Nepal, populations are finding it more and more challenging to adapt to climate change. People are no longer able to survive in areas where they have always lived. The places that were once difficult to live in are now uninhabitable, and these areas are expanding. Climate change is affecting all of us even more, and war, armed conflicts and unrest do not help.

In South Sudan, it seems like the country lurches from one disaster to another, and most of them are linked to the climate emergency. Our job tackling the changing climate is difficult enough, but with conflict, the task before us can seem impossible.

All of our work is made possible by our partners

One thing that gives me hope is that our concerns are shared, particularly across the private sector, and this creates opportunities. Particularly in livelihoods, an example is our creative industries partnership in Kenya, where we are working with small companies, and our vocational education in Uganda that links skills-trained youth to jobs in the private sector.

We have proven that we can do things differently and that we can be an agile, responsive organisation. We started founding country offices only in 2010, and our ways of doing things are not set in stone, making it easier to adapt to changing circumstances. So, we can ask ourselves, what is the best way to work going forward? Is it to provide certain support as a private sector organisation? Working through parents’ and teachers’ associations in schools? Or acting as a consultant to the government? Or mixing new elements to our modalities of work, in addition to traditional development cooperation, humanitarian assistance and peace building? This flexibility
is evident when you look at our work in Asia, which is very different from
how we work in for example Africa.

All of our work is made possible by our partners. Often, when people try to help, they focus their efforts on the people closest to them, sometimes forgetting the rest of the world. But, like us, our partners understand that events occurring anywhere in the world can affect us all, which is why we need to work together. We thank all our partners and donors for your unwavering support and fruitful collaboration.


Text: Jouni Hemberg, Finn Church Aid Executive Director
Photo: Antti Yrjönen


Finn Church Aid Annual report 2021 can be accessed online here.

The impact of the war in Ukraine isn’t limited to Europe

The impact of the war in Ukraine isn’t limited to Europe

The war in Ukraine not only transformed European security policy – it also has global effects that can bring about new security threats. Whilst we support Ukraine and tackle a humanitarian crisis in Europe, the wider consequences of the war must be noted, too.

By various measures, the world has taken a turn for the better in the past few decades. Economic developments, investments in public services, and development co-operation for its part have been successful. Extreme poverty has halved, an increasing number of girls go to school, and the global child mortality rate has decreased, although the differences between countries remain sizeable.

The covid-19 pandemic has undermined human development significantly, and the need for humanitarian aid around the world is at a historic high. Lengthy school closures have led to enormous learning loss particularly in developing countries, where the opportunities for providing remote teaching have been limited. In Finn Church Aid’s countries of operation, for example in Uganda, schools were closed for two years.

The war in Ukraine has raised the prices of food and fuel, which undermines food security in developing countries, already weakened by the pandemic and climate crisis. The food crisis also has an immense impact on education. Longstanding positive progress is about to grind to a halt and extreme poverty is on the rise again. An increasing number of countries are threatened by a prolonged and deepening crisis.

“Longstanding positive progress is about to grind to a halt and extreme poverty is on the rise again.”

The food crisis increases the likelihood of more and more children and young people suspending or quitting their studies. In poor households living off small-scale farming, children and young people are needed for work and making a living for their families. Girls are particularly at risk of having to drop out of school, because growing poverty leads to a rise in the number of child marriages and teenage pregnancies.

Pupils queuing in front of their school in Uganda.
Pupils report for school at Sweswe Primary School in Kyaka II Refugee Settlement, Uganda. Uganda reopened schools on January 10, after over 80 weeks of lockdown during the covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Esther Mbabazi

In addition, governments in Finland and some other European countries are planning cuts on development funding or reallocating funds to Ukraine. Dealing with one crisis in a way that threatens to increase instability in other nearby areas is a poor solution, as well as damaging important partnerships with developing countries.

For the European Union, building equal partnerships with developing countries, such as African states, should be an important strategic direction. In a multipolar world, developing countries can choose their partners too. Democracy, human rights and a rule-based international community are best promoted through equal partnerships. The warmer welcome to Ukrainian refugees in comparison to those from elsewhere has been noted around the world. Compare also the EU recently being unwilling to compromise on questions that African states find important, such as patent waivers on covid-19 vaccines and treatments, and migration issues.

The war in Europe only emphasises the fact that investments in education, livelihood, conflict prevention, peace work, and genuine partnerships are the most effective and affordable forms of crisis management. As a counterbalance, there is a danger of growing instability in the vicinity of Europe. This is not unavoidable, if we’re ready to invest in positive solutions.


The author is the Executive Director of Finn Church Aid.

Finn Church Aid renews its organisational structure and enhances local decision-making  

Finn Church Aid (FCA) embarks on a transformation journey by making an organisational renewal to better serve the world’s most vulnerable populations.

The renewal answers to the needs of the changing world. The work of FCA is affected by, among other things, climate change, changes in global power structures, decrease in empathy, digitalisation, urbanisation and the changes in the financial structure for development cooperation and reductions in funding.  

“There is a continued need to have actors amplifying the voices of the most vulnerable. We need to remain able to function amidst these changes in order to deliver aid effectively also in the future,” says Executive Director Jouni Hemberg.

FCA is making its leadership structure more effective and transfers decision-making to the local level in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The organisation’s global decision-making will be strengthened by appointing two representatives from FCA’s country offices to the Global Leadership Team, which will have a significant role in strategic decision-making. The new organisational structure aims to serve better the people FCA works with and emphasis accountability.

There are also new positions in FCA. PhdEd Tomi Järvinen, formerly Director of International Cooperation, is appointed as Deputy Executive Director of FCA to lead strategic planning. FCA’s former country director for Cambodia Saara Lehmuskoski, M.Soc.Sc., is appointed as Head of Transformation and Katri Suomi, MA, MSc, as Director of Stakeholder Relations.

The new organisational structure will come into force on 1st April and the implementation will continue over the coming months. 

Blockchain can increase the transparency and efficiency of cash-based assistance

Someone makes a donation by smartphone.

1. Donation: The blockchain creates a reference for each donation. The reference allows users to track exactly how their donation is used.

 

Hahmo, josta on korostettu symboleilla sormenjälki, silmä ja kädessä oleva älykortti.

2. Beneficiary registration: Blockchain technology enables electronic registration of beneficiaries, for instance, biometrically through fingerprint or iris scans or with smart cards.

 

Hattuun ja esiliinaan pukeutunut hahmo pitää sertifikaattia kädessään.

3. Verified retailers: Retailers of food and other necessities are equipped with the relevant technology for identifying beneficiaries and trained in using the system.

 

Kaksi hahmoa kättelee.

4. Redemption: The retailer receives payment from the NGO that coordinates the operation for the items they have sold to identified beneficiaries.

 

A notification on smartphone screen that a donation has been redeemed.

5. Monitoring: If transactions are made electronically, the smart contract enables the donor to follow up on how the beneficiary spends the assistance in real-time through an online link.

The benefits and challenges of cash assistance

Cash transfers are one way to ensure that a greater amount of assistance funds directly reaches those in need while also enabling vulnerable families to decide for themselves what they need and prioritise their procurements. Local retailers benefit from increased activity at local markets.

Distributing cash does also bring challenges. The beneficiary is subject to risks by carrying relatively large amounts of cash in a fragile context. To ensure that the money does not instigate fraud or corruption, organisations need to allocate staff for monitoring and follow-ups.

The spread of the coronavirus has also complicated arrangements of cash distributions, and the use of cash increases the risk of transmitting the virus between people at local markets.

With the support of blockchain technology, an organisation can create a virtual wallet for each beneficiary. The beneficiary can then buy necessities from verified retailers equipped with the appropriate identification equipment. Transactions are followed virtually, making monitoring easy, and the blockchain enables safer transactions that protect the identity of the beneficiaries.

Text: Erik Nyström

Illustrations: Tuukka Rantala

Katri Suomi to direct Stakeholder Relations at Finn Church Aid

The board of Finn Church Aid has named Katri Suomi as Director of Stakeholder Relations Department from 1st March 2021. Suomi holds Master of Arts degree in Political Studies and Master of Science degree in International Environmental Science.

The position is new. The responsibilities of the department include advocacy, communications, and church and ecumenical relations and other international partnerships.

‘Cooperation with different stakeholders and efficient and timely communications and advocacy are all the more important for Finn Church Aid and so we happy to have Katri Suomi leading this important work. We warmly welcome her to this new position,’ says Jouni Hemberg, Executive Director of Finn Church Aid.

Katri Suomi has worked in different positions in Finn Church Aid since 2008. She has been, for example, Head of Advocacy and Global Ecumenical Relations and Climate Change Adviser. Earlier Suomi has worked, among other things, in the Finnish Ministry of the Environment and in Finland’s Permanent Representation to the European Union.

‘The appointment is both a joy and an honour. I look forward to developing and strengthening stakeholder relations at Finn Church Aid together with my skilled and committed colleagues,’ Suomi says.

FCA has decided to change its operation to better answer to future challenges. There will be communication during this spring about other changes in the work and organisation of Finn Church Aid.

‘Achieving the sustainable development goals requires wide-spread cooperation with different stakeholders. – The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the earlier development results and the situation has worsened in several of FCAs countries of operation with regard for example to gender equality, education and livelihoods. In this situation, it is even more important to bring advocacy, communications, church and ecumenical relations, and international partnerships into one unit. It makes it stronger and enables better and more efficient work with stakeholders,’ Katri Suomi notes.

Finn Church Aid’s Board Chair Tarja Kantola to co-chair the Faith-Based Advisory Council of the United Nations Interagency Task Force on Religion and Development

Ms. Tarja Kantola, Chair of Finn Church Aid’s Board of Directors, has been appointed to co-chair the Faith-Based Advisory Council for the United Nations Interagency Task Force on Religion and Development. The other co-chair for the Council is H.E. Faisal Bin Muaammar, Secretary General of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID).

“As co-chair of the Advisory Council, I look forward to the opportunity to advance human rights and build upon the experience of faith-based organisations with the UN”, says Ms. Kantola.

The UN Interagency Task Force was formed in 2010 as a mechanism to generate more learned and systematic knowledge about faith-based engagement around the development, peace building and human rights’ agendas of the United Nations. In April 2018, the UN Task Force and over 50 of the faith-based NGO partners agreed to develop an Advisory Council.

The responsibility of the Advisory Council will be to provide strategic advice to the UN Inter-Agency Task Force in order to strengthen human rights-based policy advocacy, coordinate engagement with faith-based entities, and to focus on the representation of religion in peacemaking.

In celebration of Mr. Annan’s legacy of engaging with faith-based actors, the Task Force will launch an Annual Kofi Annan Faith Briefings’, which will uphold the importance of strategic partnerships by the UN system with faith-based civil society actors around the world.

“Finn Church Aid and the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers applaud the efforts of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion and Development. It is a significant development to see this effort being institutionalised through the first-ever Advisory Council of faith-based organisations. It is a tremendous recognition to Finn Church Aid’s thematic work to have its chair, Ms. Tarja Kantola, as the co-chair the Advisory Council”, states Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, Executive Director of the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers and Advisory Council member.

Ms. Tarja Kantola has an extensive career in international relations and promoting human rights. She is Member of the Church Council of the The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and Chair of Board of WISE Wider Security Network. Prior to serving as Chair of Finn Church Aid’s Board of Directors, she worked for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland as political Advisor in Foreign Ministers Cabinet with four Foreign Ministers and chaired the Advisory Board on International Human Rights Affairs set by the Finnish Government. Kantola has also worked with several civil society organisations, including the International Solidarity Foundation, the Finnish Refugee Council and Save the Children Finland. She has been Member of the City Council of Helsinki and Member of the City Board.

For more information

Ms. Tarja Kantola, Chair of Board, Finn Church Aid
tel.+358 050 555 0833, kantolantarja(a)gmail.com (Time zone GMT +3, Eastern European Summer Time)

Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, Executive Director, The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers
tel. +1 317 506 2835 (Time zone GMT-4, Eastern Daylight Time)

finnchurchaid.fi
peacemakersnetwork.org

Finn Church Aid celebrated its 70-year history: “Investing in education in the poorest countries is an investment in global wellbeing”

Finn Church Aid (FCA) has become a globally valued expert in education and peace work. At the end of September, the 70 years of FCA’s aid work were celebrated in Helsinki.

FCA’s anniversary year culminated in the #courage2017 seminar held in Helsinki on 27 September. Among the speakers were Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, Archbishop of Finland Kari Mäkinen, the UN Under-Secretary General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng, and Alice P. Albright, the Director of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which is the world’s most important funder of education in developing countries.

“It is admirable, that despite the risks, Finn Church Aid has decided to work in the world’s most fragile countries”, Prime Minister Sipilä said in his speech.

The Prime Minister commended FCA’s practical work in peace mediation and in the fight against violent extremist groups, as well as its courage to open-mindedly try out new methods and partnerships.

“My office receives some of its greatest support from civil society actors like Finn Church Aid”, said UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng.

Partnership with Finn Church Aid, and the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers working in connection with it, has led to concrete results.

Adama Dieng and Baba Lybeck.

UN Special Adviser Adama Dieng answered questions from the audience. The seminar was hosted by Baba Lybeck.

“At the heart of all religions is the belief in our common humanity and respect for others. Together we have succeeded in placing a discussion about the positive power of religion at the heart of the work of the United Nations”, Dieng said.

The importance of education was a recurring theme in the event’s speeches. According to the latest estimates, there are 264 million out-of-school children and youth in the world.

“Hundreds of millions of young people are being left behind. They will never acquire the skills they need to break out of poverty or to compete in an increasingly globalised world. The countries they live in are deprived of their input in the building of economically stable and sustainable societies. As a result, we are all less well off”, said GPE’s Director Alice P. Albright. GPE is working to improve education in developing countries.

Albright reminded the audience that we live in an increasingly interconnected world, and inequality of opportunity leads to discontent and conflict, which in turn can spill over national borders. It is the responsibility of everyone – whether from traditional donor countries, emerging economies, developing countries, foundations, civil society or the private sector – to invest in education.

New direction and a wider reach

Ten years ago, Finn Church Aid completely changed its direction. Where earlier FCA had focused on funding the work carried out by its partner organisations it now decided to specialise in peace work, education and improving livelihoods. It also began sending its own relief workers abroad and set up country offices to manage the implementation of its own projects.

“We wanted to take a bigger responsibility for the results of our work. On a global scale we are a small organisation and it is not sensible for us to seek out projects in areas that already have a large number of actors in them. Our work has its biggest impact in the world’s most fragile countries”, says FCA Director Jouni Hemberg.

In ten year, FCA’s income has doubled, partly as a result of international funding. FCA currently employs 350 people, which is nearly ten times more than a decade ago. Last year, 132,500 children and youth received access to education as a result of FCA’s work.

Among the guests at the anniversary event were representatives from FCA’s Finnish and foreign partners, the Finnish government, the Finnish church, other civil society organisations, the media and parishes.

Deaconess Heidi Karvonen from Oulu has been FCA’s contact point in her parish for 20 years.

“International charity work is important for me and I have always wanted to bring FCA’s work forward in my parish. Initially, disaster relief was closest to my heart, but now I feel most strongly about peace work, about how conflict and human suffering could be avoided. At the event today, we’ve heard a lot of emphasis put on the importance of education as the foundation for peace work”, Karvonen says.

“Finn Church Aid’s courage is a result of it recognising its roots and identity and drawing from them”, said Archbishop Kari Mäkinen.

The Archbishop spoke of how after the Second World War, churches understood that they were part of a reality in which people’s basic security had been shaken. Talk of a loving God rang hollow when people were not fed, clothed or cared for. The foundation of the churches’ work was the principle of mutual dependence and reciprocity. God’s world is one; its hope and despair are common to us all.

“This courage is needed now as Finn Church Aid works around the world from Central Africa to South Sudan, from Syria to Nepal and Europe. The vulnerable must be protected, the hopeless must be afforded hope, peace must be brought to places of violence.”

The theme for FCA’s anniversary is #courage2017.

In the 70 years worship preceding the seminar, the World Council of Churches General Secretary Olav Fykse Tveit thanked FCA for its contribution in the ecumenical movement. In his sermon Tveit said: ”We live in a world that is getting divided, polarized, focusing on the differences and the dividing forces between us as human beings and between us and nature. We need the courage to live with a vision for unity.”

 

FCA delivers top results in education while the share of global aid for education decreases

Finn Church Aid’s (FCA) work in the world’s most fragile states brings significant results in all areas of operation. The results are published in FCA’s annual report 2016.

FCA is an established actor within the education sector, specialised in securing education for everyone, building learning spaces after disasters and enhancing the level of education.

“2016 was a challenging year for us, but we achieved remarkable results in all areas of our work. Especially our work with quality education grew significantly. This is very important now that less and less global aid is allocated to education”, says FCA’s Executive Director Jouni Hemberg.

The decreasing share of funding to education puts other development goals at risk, according to the U.N. Aid allocations to education are falling for the sixth year in a row and last year education received only 2.7 per cent of total aid available.

Despite the overall trend, FCA doubled the amount of its education projects in 2016 with the aim of increasing access to quality education for children and youth.

The achievements include the incorporation of career counselling into Cambodia’s national curriculum and the construction of hundreds of learning spaces in Nepal, where FCA is the second biggest international organisation to reconstruct earthquake-damaged schools. Last year FCA’s work resulted in access to education for 63 000 children in the Central African Republic.

A total of 132 000 children and youth benefited from FCA’s education projects in 2016 and 4 693 teachers took part in trainings in program countries.

Last year was also marked by budget cuts when the Finnish government’s decision to reduce funding for development cooperation came into force. FCA’s government funding was reduced from 15,5 million euros to 8,3 million. However, FCA continued to see positive development in the cooperation with international donors , and the international funding exceeded that of the state. Private and corporate donations exceeded targets for 2016.

In 2016 FCA’s expenditures were 34,7 million euro, of which 29,1 million was allocated to international aid. FCA is Finland’s largest organization in development cooperation and second largest in humanitarian aid. FCA is specialised in three themes: quality education, sustainable livelihoods and peace.

The work for sustainable livelihoods reached impressive results for instance in Nepal where 98 percent of families participating in women’s entrepreneurship programme have risen past the poverty line at the conclusion of the programme. In South Sudan local peace agreements were signed among stakeholders within Boma state and between Boma and Jonglei states, and over 90 percent of participants expressed their satisfaction in the process supported by FCA.

FCA works for peace in Finland. Since last autumn the project Reach Out supports religious communities in their grassroots level work against prejudice and hate speech.

Finn Church Aid Annual Report 2016 (pdf)

More information:

Jouni Hemberg, Executive Director for Finn Church Aid, p. +358 50 325 9579
jouni.hemberg(a)kirkonulkomaanapu.fi

Mikko Koivumaa, Head of Communications, p. +358 40 559 4030
mikko.koivumaa(a)kirkonulkomaanapu.fi