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Annual Report 2017

Ensuring quality assistance where it is most needed

2017 was a good year for Finn Church Aid. Our programme grew by over seven million euros. Many of our operating contexts remained fragile and insecure, but we succeeded in supporting hundreds of thousands of people through humanitarian assistance and development work, while also building the local communities’ capacity against shocks and stressors.

The increased reach and impact of our work is the result of effective response to local needs and close cooperation and partnership with the relevant local, national and international actors.

In 2017, we continued to address the pressing need for quality education for children and youth. Access to quality education is an important prerequisite for employment and enhanced livelihood opportunities, which also contribute to social cohesion and reducing conflicts.

In Uganda, with an estimated number of 1.3 million refugees, FCA is implementing an innovative education initiative in collaboration with UNHCR and Omnia Education Partnerships Ltd., a Finnish education export company. The refugee youth who complete the training obtain a Finnish vocational qualification in entrepreneurship. The official certificate is valid in their country of origin and the country they have settled in. 

Worldwide, over 65 million people have been forced to leave their homes and the plight of refugees is present in nearly all our programme countries in one way or another. In 2017, FCA supported refugees and internally displaced populations in Syria, Uganda, CAR, South Sudan, Somalia, Jordan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Greece.

Our peace work has been multifaceted both at home and in our programme countries. We collaborate not only with traditional and religious leaders but also with women and youth.

Collective actions focusing on dialogue, mediation and local peace processes’ support have generated concrete accomplishments, for example, in Somalia, CAR, South Sudan and Uganda. Our work has contributed to increasing peace and stability and reducing extremist activities that may undermine development progress and the realisation of human rights.

Developing the private sector to create jobs and livelihoods is a new and growing focus in FCA’s work. Women’s Bank has already been supporting female entrepreneurship for ten years. Its activity has expanded and has been further developed towards providing loans to small businesses.

Sklilful and committed staff, experienced local partners and good collaboration with a number of local, national and global actors and networks have enabled our operations and the related results. We are grateful for the trust placed in our work by the general public and donors, and we promise to continue pursuing our efforts on behalf of human dignity.

Jouni Hemberg 

Executive Director
Finn Church Aid


Accountability to the people we work with

FCA operates in fragile contexts and emergency settings, often working with the most vulnerable people. Our organisation and all individual staff members have a duty to safeguard people’s safety and wellbeing.

FCA is committed to creating and maintaining an environment that prevents staff misconduct and enhances accountability. Starting from recruitment, we emphasise high ethical standards and appropriate attitudes in our staff. We have a policy of zero tolerance of fraud, corruption and abuse of power in all forms, including harassment and sexual abuse. Staff members are personally and collectively responsible for upholding and promoting the highest ethical standards of behaviour, set out in the FCA Code of Conduct. All staff must sign the Code of Conduct and pass an e-learning course.

FCA introduced a Child Safeguarding Policy in 2017. To uphold people’s dignity and safety, FCA has an ethical standard on making and using images, videos and stories of people.

To minimise risks and adverse effects on the people and communities we work with, risk analyses are carried out regularly in all programmes. In the case that people feel that FCA or FCA staff has affected them negatively, they can express their dissatisfaction through a complaints mechanism. FCA investigates all suspicions of misconduct; disciplinary action against staff members will follow when necessary.

As the first Finnish member, FCA was certified against the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) in 2017. Our performance is audited annually by external auditors.


Strong economic growth

2017 did not start on a promising note. The previous year saw a cut in government funding from 15.5 million euros to 8.3 million. The situation took a turn for the better thanks to other financial sources. Cooperation with international donors remained fruitful and funding revenues exceeded the budget. Donations from private and corporate donors exceeded the budget by €3.2 million, or 34 per cent. The most significant was a major donation of €2.0 million.

The deficit for 2017 was 45,030 euros, and equity at the end of the year was €13.0 million. Of this, a total of €7.9 million were targeted donations for development cooperation and disaster and reconstruction work and Women’s Bank. Current receivables totalled €2.9 million. Current liabilities were €6.8 million, of which €3.4 million were advance payments from various donors.


Total revenue for the financial period was €44.3 million, which represents a 29 per cent increase from the previous year. Revenue from fundraising activities was €41.8 million.


In 2017, Finn Church Aid spent €44.2 million on international aid and domestic operations. Operational expenses grew by 27 per cent from the previous year. Expenses for aid activities totalled €38.6 million, including €3.4 million for the planning and monitoring of programmes. Expenses for support functions for aid activities, general administration and fundraising were €5.7 million.


Programme Work and Support Functions 2017

Financial information as pdf files

Financial Statements and Annual Report 2017

Auditors Report 2017

Internal auditing improves operational reliability

Internal auditing is independent and objective evaluation, monitoring and consultation of FCA work that adds value to Finn Church Aid and improves its operation.

Internal auditing supports FCA and its higher executives to achieve their goals by providing a systematic approach to the organisation’s monitoring, management and administrative processes as well as evaluating and improving the effectiveness of risk management.

Future Development

The changes in the global development architecture will have a significant impact on the operations of Finn Church Aid in the coming years. The organisation must continue to develop new forms of operating and seek out new financing sources to realise its mission, vision and operational goals. For example, the prioritization of private sector funding in certain countries must be continued and expanded.

The implementation of the new strategy approved in 2016 was started in 2017. In addition to traditional aid, vocational training, job creation and improvement of livelihoods are strongly emerging as key areas in the work of FCA.

Through its operations, FCA must be able to demonstrate its clear added value and its experience of operating in difficult conditions. Partnerships with international actors, such as UN organisations, sister organisations of ACT Alliance and other non-governmental organisations will continue.


Our work

Right to livelihood

Employment, entrepreneurship and the rapid response to livelihood shocks are at the forefront of FCA’s work in livelihoods promotion. The work focuses primarily on women and youth.

Considering the number of beneficiaries, community-based organisations that strengthen local livelihoods make up the largest work area of FCA. These organisations include farmer associations, producer and credit cooperatives as well as village committees overseeing the use of common resources. The number of these organisations receiving support was 1,766. Of the approximately 60,000 members, 59 per cent were women.

Communities were also supported to implement small-scale infrastructure projects for developing water and irrigation systems, adding value to agricultural produce through processing and post-harvest handling or repairing damages caused by disasters. A total of over 9,000 households benefitted from these operations. Post-crisis reconstruction provided cash for work to over 1,500 people. Further 5,000 families were given material support  to boost income generation and/or restart food production.

Village banks and credit cooperatives strengthen the local economy by offering financing services for developing business and agricultural activities. In 2017, the 535 grassroots microfinance providers supported by FCA had a total of 30,000 members, 17,500 of which were women. The great majority of the members took part in various training activities that enhanced their ability to generate income. While in the past the emphasis was on agriculture, now a greater part of the training is related to technical and entrepreneurial skills; over 75 per cent of the training focused on these kinds of capacities.

Entrepreneurship represents a clear area of growth for FCA. Nearly 5,000 people found work either as full-time or part-time entrepreneurs and 1,400 jobs were created in companies. Numerous country offices have made a special effort to invest in supporting the entrepreneurship of women and youth. In Uganda and Jordan, refugee youth are a special target group.  In 2017, FCA embarked on a new area by starting the training of business advisers and coaches to meet the needs of the entrepreneurship projects. In Jordan, Nepal and Cambodia, over 50 business coaches received training not only from FCA’s own staff but also from Women’s Bank volunteers.

Right to peace

In 2017, Finn Church Aid (FCA) supported peace work on a global, national and local level.

The most important goal in FCA’s peace work is to ensure inclusion. For example, it is crucial that youth, women and religious and traditional leaders are involved in mediating conflicts and building peace.

The work is in line with the United Nations’ goals for sustainable development and the UN Security Council’s resolutions 1325 and 2250 concerning youth, women and peace.

Finn Church Aid has also continued to serve as the Secretariat of the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, which was established at the initiative of the UN. In July, the role of religious leaders in preventing incitement to violence received particular recognition in the action plan launched in New York by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Peace work focused on the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Myanmar, Nepal, Cambodia, Liberia as well as Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Land and property disputes, family rights and violations of human rights are among the issues handled in mediation and peace processes.

Last year, peace work was firmly connected to livelihoods. In Kenya, for example, FCA supported efforts to raise livestock among communities often in conflict with each other. Income opportunities have prevented cattle rustling and other matters of dispute. In Somalia, the efforts to support state structures have continued, and the promotion of trade has had a greater role in peace building.

In Boma State, South Sudan, widespread internal violence was avoided for the first time in many years thanks to the peace process and signed peace agreements supported by FCA in 2016 and 2017. The state’s top political leadership also changed in a historically peaceful manner, a promising sign for lasting peace and stability in the region.

In Myanmar, FCA provided training for 84 young peace activists from varying ethnic and religious backgrounds in peace mediation and avoidance of violence in their communities across the country.

In Finland, FCA and the peace network has supported cooperation between Finnish authorities, religious communities, organisations and families in the prevention of violent radicalisation and extremism. Throughout the year, seminars and training sessions have reached hundreds of actors, experts and other professionals in Helsinki, Turku, Tampere and Oulu.

Right to quality education

The path of learning leads to the future. Even under the most difficult circumstances, education offers the opportunity to make plans towards a better life.

In 2017, Finn Church Aid’s education projects increased to 56. FCA improves the quality of education in numerous ways. With the support of FCA, 763 classrooms were built or restored. Thanks to the construction of new classrooms, class sizes have been reduced and pupils are receiving more individualized instruction.

Furthermore, FCA supported the education of 5,444 teachers.

Parental commitment to children’s schooling is one of the most important ways to guarantee that a child attends school regularly and passes the year along with his/her classmates. FCA has established parent-teacher associations for almost all the schools it supports. These associations enable parents to get involved in their children’s schooling and the school administration. Within the framework of the associations, the small business activities of parents have been supported, which has increased the parents’ income, and thus led to more commitment on their behalf.

In Kenya, fewer girls have dropped out of school since clean drinking water became available in schools. The secondary level education of girls is often interrupted because girls are responsible for fetching water from a well that may be located several kilometres away from home. In the schools supported by FCA, students were also allowed to take clean drinking water home, making it possible for them to complete their education. In 2017, water distribution reached 13,000 pupils.

Simply going to school, however, does not guarantee a secure future. Education must ultimately lead to a profession. Therefore, career counselling and working life skills play an even greater role in FCA’s education projects. Career counselling has continued successfully in Cambodia, where 9,127 students received counselling in 2017.

In eight country programmes a total of 2,619 young people started entrepreneurship training where they were helped to start their own business. In Jordan, for example, 96 per cent of the youth who participated in entrepreneurship training successfully established their own business with the support of a grant.

Humanitarian assistance

FCA repaired schools and offered local people work in Syria

Although Syria saw its seventh year of conflict, in some areas of the country children have already been able to return to school. Nonetheless, after years of warfare, most schools and other public buildings have either been destroyed in battles or have fallen into extreme disrepair due to lack of maintenance. The country has over six million internally displaced persons.

In 2017, Finn Church Aid, in collaboration with its partners, restored public facilities, such as schools, a care home for the elderly, a hospital and a playground in Syria.

The war has left four out of five Syrians living in poverty, making the opportunity to earn a living extremely urgent. The restoration projects employed a total of 292 vulnerable people through cash for work activities.

For example, in Aleppo, with FCA’s support, four floors of the Al Basel hospital were restored. The project employed 19 people from Aleppo. The hospital provides free health care services to roughly 150,000 patients a year.

In addition, in Aleppo and the rural areas of Damascus, 80 women in vulnerable situations took part in projects in which woollen garments were prepared to distribute to the vulnerable children of the villages.

Hope and motivation

Even though children’s access to schooling has improved in recent years, 1.7 million school-age Syrian children, that is, 43 per cent, are still not attending school.

With the support of FCA, nine schools in Syria have been restored; walls have been patched and repaired, classrooms painted, and desks fixed. Washrooms and water stations have also been repaired or rebuilt. The accessibility of the schools for disabled children and youth were taken into consideration during the renovation work.

In addition, FCA offered remedial instruction to 360 pupils who had been out of school for years; FCA also made it possible for 110 children and youth to attend school by providing support in school fees.

The renovation of the schools has meant a great deal to the communities. Absences have gone down and fewer children and youth leave school than before. Teachers are more motivated than ever.

School offers children and youth not only a sense of security but also hope for a normal life.

Popular coding workshops bring Greek and refugee youth together

Greek youth and young refugees not only learn new things about coding, but they also find out about each other’s cultures. Photo: Sokrates Baltagiannis

Many of the young refugees who have arrived in Greece had no opportunity to continue their schooling while fleeing their homelands. Others had already left school due to war or poverty. To help these refugees, Finn Church Aid initiated its operations in Greece in the summer of 2016. During 2017, a total of 4,896 children and youth took part in FCA’s projects in Greece.

At the beginning of the year, FCA started to focus on helping to get children and youth back into school. Many children had been out of school for an average of two years, many for even longer. In the daytime activities organised by FCA and its partner organisations, children and youth were given language instruction in their native tongue and help with homework.

Since the end of the year, FCA’s work centred on youth and we organized Code+Create workshops for youth between the ages of 15 and 24. The young people involved were either Greek or had arrived in Greece as refugees. The purpose of the coding workshops is to facilitate the employment of young people and to increase dialogue between people of different backgrounds in Greece.

“Young people are excited about learning new skills. The workshops evolved into genuine meeting places, allowing many Greek and refugee youth to meet for the first time, and even find new friends,” says Antti Toivanen, who was working as Greece Country Director in 2017.

The aim of the workshops was to reach youth, especially those with few opportunities, and help them gain skills that they would find tremendously useful in life and in succeeding in working life. Participants did not need to have any prior experience in programming, only basic English skills and an enthusiastic attitude.

“It’s a good idea to have people from different backgrounds in the groups. This way we can learn about new cultures,” says Michalis, a 15-year-old Greek youth who has taken part in the workshop.

In the workshop he made some friends, including Said, an 18-year-old from Afghanistan. Said arrived in Athens in 2016 with his family, when life in Afghanistan became too dangerous.

“Getting to know Greek people has been hard, because not everyone speaks English. When I heard about this programme, of course I wanted to get involved. I really enjoy studying,” says Said.

Assistance during drought and famine in Eastern Africa

A woman passing a dead cow in Dong Boma, village of Dinka in South-Sudan. Photo: Paul Jeffrey

An extremely severe drought plagued Eastern Africa in 2017. In Kenya, FCA responded to the situation in collaboration with ACT Alliance by delivering safe drinking water to schools, reaching a total of 15,273 children. In addition, schools were also provided with hand-washing facilities.

In Somalia, roughly 2,700 people benefitted in the Togdheer Region of Somalia when FCA financially supported households in coping with the drought. Wells were repaired with the help of the local communities to ensure the availability of safe drinking water; in the Baidoa District safe drinking water was delivered to over 400 people in emergency response.

After famine was declared in South Sudan, FCA immediately donated 50,000 euros from its Disaster Fund to the World Food Programme. The donation from Finn Church Aid was used to obtain 18,000 kg of nutritious grain-soya blend. The emergency food was delivered by airdrop. The volume guaranteed food intake for 5,040 people for 14 days.

Building safe schools in Nepal

Janak Secondary School is situated in Gimdi, in the mountainous central area of Nepal. Finn Church Aid constructed two classroom buildings for the school.  Photo: FCA

After the devastating earthquakes of 2015 in Nepal, FCA has built safe school facilities to replace those destroyed in the quakes; FCA has also offered psychosocial support to pupils and further training for teachers.

Construction of schools was completed in 2017. The facilities built by FCA enabled 44,00 children to go to school.

Humanitarian assistance
Programmes in 2017
Central African Republic: Support in education2 118 083 €
Jordan: Support for the Syrian refugees in education and psycho-social support1 407 906 €
Syria: Emergency aid, support in education and livelihood444 368 €
Myanmar: Support in education629 983 €
Bangladesh: Emergency aid for the refugees from Myanmar9675 €
Nepal: Support in education3 745 076 €
Somalia: Support for the returnees and emergency aid to drought-affected communities647 886 €
Kenya: Support in education and emergency aid to drought-affected communities310 064 €
South-Sudan: Support in education and emergency aid to drought-affected communities 1 906 995 €
Uganda: Support in education, focus on refugee children and youth4 031 446 €
Haiti: Emergency aid and reconstruction454 544 €
Greece: Support in education, focus on refugee children and youth2 406 857 €
Sierra Leone: Emergency aid after floods and landslides28 245 €
Development of disaster preparedness and risk reduction in Uganda, Cambodia, and Nepal161 750 €
Support to the rapid response fund (Act Alliance)70 000 €
Humanitarian roster14 466 €
Support to the global education cluster, rapid response team114 000 €