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EMPACT concludes in online conference

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The project EMPACT held its concluding workshop on 23 March. The event was held online, with travel for the partners from eight countries still off the table due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The workshop focused on summarising and collecting the project’s results. After a little more than two years of productive work, all five non-EU organisations were able to hand in certification requests as EUAV hosting organisations, thereby fulfilling the project’s primary objective in full. In various workshops, participants evaluated, updated and improved their policies,  procedures and practices in various aspects of volunteer management, in particular with regard to the challenges that come with receiving international volunteers. As a secondary objective, partners also widened their horizons in humanitarian work and recognised standards in this area. The Core Humanitarian Standard was taught and discussed alongside similar topics from the EUAV catalogue. Betwen workshops, project participants also took part in several e-learning units on topics they chose as relevant for their work.

Beyond this, the final workshop discussed how to transition to the new humanitarian aid strand of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC). The ESC is set to substitute the EUAV program that unfortunately ran out a year earlier than originally planned, due to Covid-19 making international deployments impossible in 2021. The EMPACT consortium will observe the set-up of ESC and has agreed to jointly discuss how to continue working together in the new program.

To close the project, a video titled “We are EMPACT” was presented, that featured all the non-EU partner organisations, some of their activities and their takeaways from the project:

 

Last certification workshop of the project concludes online

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From 17-18 November 2020, EMPACT held its last planned certification workshop. The workshop was held via teleconference.

The workshop, which was originally planned to take place in North Macedonia, was moved to an online setting due to ongoing travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Representatives from all project partner organisations joined the event to discuss issues of volunteer management systems related to the EU Aid Volunteers program. These included selection, task assignments, preparation, performance management and mentoring. The content was complemented by a presentation on the 7th and 8th commitment of the Core Humanitarian Standard, namely “Learning and Improvement” and “People Management”, after which the participants were introduced to the CHS self-assessment tools and invited to take them into consideration in the further development of their organisations.

A final workshop to elaborate these additional perspectives further, to wrap up the project and to discuss perspectives for follow-up activities is planned for the end of March in Brussels. The project timeframe has been officially extended to accommodate this event. 

All prospective hosting organisations in the EMPACT project have since applied for certification in EUAV. An application for a follow-up deployment project is pending.

Work on certification continues in Nairobi

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empact_kenya_conf1The consortium of EMPACT came together in Nairobi, Kenya from 24-29 February their second certification workshop. Local project partner Jukumu Letu hosted the group.

The workshop in Kenya was used to review all partners’ policy drafts on topics discussed at previous workshops. It also focused on the new topics of professional & social recognition, code of conduct, safeguarding, and equal opportunities & non-discrimination.

empact_kenya_conf2Besides continuous work on these policies and standard operating procedures, the group also again worked on corresponding aspects of the Core Humanitarian Standard.

Also on the agenda were discussions on perspectives for deployment projects. The consortium unanimously decided to expedite efforts for certification, to still be eligible for applying for a deployment project in this year’s call. The call for proposals for deployment projects is expected to come out soon, with a likely deadline in June.

empact_kenya_group

Partners are currently finalising their policies and SOPs. A third certification workshop to discuss final issues with the documents and work on steps beyond the initial request for certification is planned. Time and place will be determined once it is foreseeable that travel restrictions related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are going to be eased again.

 

Certification workshop held in Belgrade

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The partners of the EMPACT project came together in Belgrade, Serbia last month to begin in-depth work on certification in EU Aid Volunteers (EUAV).

Local project partner IDC hosted the group for this first of three workshops that will go into detail on individual policies and standard operating procedures that are required to certify as an EUAV hosting organisation.

The meeting started off with a review of the results from the previous event, the assessment workshops held in both project regions, the Balkans and East Africa, thereby giving the participants an overview of their strengths and of their remaining challenges.

This was followed by sessions on the topics safety & security, health & safety, and data protection. Participants learned about the formal requirements and were provided with practical templates that they could use to create or revise their own respective policies.

The meeting also included a more detailed look at the commitments of the Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) that losely related to the issues discussed in connection with EUAV. This practice will continue at the next workshops, to give the participating organisations a wider perspective on established humanitarian standards, procedures and conduct than EUAV alone would provide. Thereby, the participants will be better prepared to conceptualise and implement high-quality EUAV deployment projects once they are certified.

The next certification workshop is scheduled to take place in February 2020 in Kenya.

Assessment workshops define starting point for certification process

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Two capacity assessment workshops were held in June 2019, one in each of the two project regions. The workshop for East Africa was hosted by Jukumu Letu in Nairobi, Kenya while the workshop for the Western Balkans was hosted by Alfa Centar in Niksic, Montenegro.

Both workshops followed the same structure. Over several working days, the prospective EUAV hosting organisations went through a semi-standardised self-assessment process, guided by the EU-based organisations. Italian partner organisation ANPAS, who are themselves already registered as a sending organisation in EUAV, had prepared a questionnaire that checked for the presence and comprehensiveness of all policies and other requirements that have to be in place for an organisation to achieve EUAV certification. The process included detailed introductory presentations on sets of policies, before the group went into deliberations on the applicability to their organisations.

In the time until the next workshop, the EU-based organisations will use the results of the assessment workshops to create a map of gaps for each partner, an overview of which areas the respective organisation still needs to work on to successfully certify in EUAV. These maps of gaps will then inform the discussions at the coming certification workshops, where in-depth work on individual policies will be on the agenda.

The consortium plans to hold the first certification workshop again in just one location with all partners. It will take place in autumn of 2019 in Belgrade, Serbia.

Working Kick-off in Uganda

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Last week, all project partners of the project empowerment2act (EMPACT) came together in Kampala to begin their capacity building work toward certification in the EU Aid Volunteers (EUAV) program. Local project partner CIDI hosted the meeting. 

The consortium revisited the project plan as prescribed by the proposal they jointly handed in back in May 2018. From the colleagues of ANPAS and White Cross, who have had direct experience with the program, they also got an introductory presentation into the program and certification process. 

The main task of EMPACT is to lead the project partners from non-EU countries toward certification in the EU Aid Volunteers program. The operative organisations among the EU-based partners are either already certified or will pursue their own certification in parallel to the project. Besides the strictly program-focused content of the upcoming certification workshops, the partners will also be familiarised with the Core Humanitarian Standards (CHS). Relevant topics of CHS and EUAV have been grouped together in four certification workshops. This way, the factual capacity to design and implement volunteer deployment projects later on will be strengthened beyond the requirements of the EUAV program. 

Besides the theoretical introductory talks into the content of the project and an overview of administrative issues, the consortium also took the opportunity to directly engage with an ongoing EUAV deployment project in Uganda. The group held discussions with the Ugandan Pioneers Association and two volunteers that are currently deployed with them. They also conducted a field visit to where one of the volunteers is currently active.  

Before the series of certification workshops, an in-depth capacity assessment in both project regions (East Africa and the Balkans) is planned to take part in early June. These capacity assessments will help the consortium to better plan and conduct the certification workshops by making use of existing policies and procedures in each organisation and focusing those areas where most capacity-building work is still required. 

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