BACKGROUND OF THE ORGANISATION
Hilfswerk Austria International is one of Austria’s leading organisations for development cooperation and humanitarian aid worldwide. It provides assistance to people in need and participates in the fight against poverty and hunger; it provides emergency aid and helps with reconstruction in the wake of wars and natural disasters. Particular attention is paid to helping children in need and their families as well as to providing support to women. It finances its projects through national and international project funding for development cooperation and disaster relief as well as through private donations and sponsoring.
In accordance with its mission statement, HWA works closely with partners in Austria and abroad, avails itself of the large networks of the HWÖ (Austrian Welfare Organisation), has a large expert pool at its disposal and can rely on a network of volunteers. HWA strengthens the cooperation with the Austrian commerce and industry and implements the idea of “Meeting Austria” in its partner countries.
HWA is a flexible and non-bureaucratic niche player. Our programs are sustainably anchored in local systems due to our committed staff, our specialized sector knowledge and our strong dedication to make a meaningful contribution to our beneficiaries’ lives. Through our programs, we want to achieve the following objectives :
Our assistance is meant to have a sustainable and long-term impact. Sustainability means to equitably implement and ensure sociocultural, ecological and economic targets. In order to guarantee the long-term effectiveness of our aid programs, we thoroughly involve our local partner organizations in the conception, organization and realization of projects. Our challenge is to see to it that after discontinuation of support the local population is in a position to continue the projects at their own initiative and to shape their lives in an independent and responsible manner.
Economic development is a basic prerequisite for the lasting reduction of poverty and therefore an essential foundation for sustainable development. Hilfswerk Austria International wants to help strengthen economic development and develop modern economic structures in its partner countries. It is important to us to incorporate Austrian and European companies into our projects and to support the business initiatives of companies committed to social and ecological values through confidence-building measures. Furthermore, we support companies in the implementation of CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives and welcome the voluntary assumption of social responsibility by companies as a step toward establishing the necessary basic conditions throughout the world.
Worldwide development cooperation and assistance are also a way to get to know Austria. We also want to familiarize Austrians with the living conditions in our partner countries and establish contacts between people in our partner countries and Austria. Through our activities we want to help boost the image of Austria and Europe in the rest of the world.
COUNTRIES OF INTERVENTION
HWA started its operations in Eastern Europe (mainly in the Balkan areas) and has since then expanded to over 30 countries across all four continents. It has been active in Latin America and the Caribbean (Colombia, Nicaragua, Haiti, etc.), Africa (Senegal, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Libya, Tunisia, etc.), Europe (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Albania, etc.) and Asia (Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, etc.).
Over the past years it has centered its main activities on the following 12 core countries:
HWA has a broad sector experience which can be summarized under the following main sectors:
We focus on the promotion of agriculture and rural development in vulnerable communities and under-privileged economic areas. Our interventions apply inclusive business development models that see the poor as potential entrepreneurs, consumers and innovators. We develop innovative value chains with different crops (i.e. chilies, sesame, cassava, moringa, etc.) and raise the income of our smallholder farmers in cooperation with private sector partners, thus guaranteeing long-term success. We are also giving support to micro- and small businesses to generate inclusive growth and we are introducing food safety standards (i.e. Fairtrade, Global GAP and organic) with cooperatives and farmers groups.
Our programming focuses on social protection and inclusion of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups (i.e. People With Disabilities, former inmates or probationers, Roma minorities etc.). We do this through development of day care centers, through integrative VET and trainings, (voluntary) mentoring programs, psycho-social services and support, economic empowerment, and self-employment. This also includes our social housing and reconstruction programs as well as minority integration of IDPs and returnees (i.e. in Bosnia and Herzegovina).
Additionally, our programs promote democracy and governance, voter education, political education and promotion of democracy. Many of our projects do have a focus on peacebuilding as well such as our activities in Colombia with indigenous groups and minorities.
Our third pillar rests on children and youth: we promote children´s rights and take care of the most vulnerable children (i.e. Children With Disabilities). HWA also considers health aspects and promotes maternal-child health by capacity strengthening of local actors including communities and local authorities, community innovation and knowledge management. Our actions also include improving educational systems, renovating and upgrading schools, providing text books or equipment.
POLICIES AND GUIDELINES
We follow international guidelines and standards of humanitarian aid and development assistance which are international standard (i.e. Sphere Standards for humanitarian aid or the Sustainable Development Goals). On top of that, we have developed our internal policies and guidelines which all staff and implementing partners need to follow. This includes: Child Protection Policy, Evaluation Policy, Disclosure Policy, Anti-Corruption and Fraud Policy, Environmental Policy, HIV/AIDS Policy, Humanitarian Standards Policy, Whistleblowing Policy, Security Policy, and Driver´s Policy.
HWA can rely on a well-established team of in-house and external experts. Its staff comprises of well trained and experienced Desk Officers for each region with several years of experience in the dedicated region and sector. They are backed up by a Senior Expert with over 30 years’ experience in designing and managing large and complex development and humanitarian aid projects. HWA comprises of a large pool of affiliated experts through its board of directors and advisory board which represent a strong knowledge pool to the organisation. It also uses external knowledge through various service providers (i.e. TripleMinds consultancy network).
PROJECT VOLUME AND FINANCIAL FRAMEWORK
HWA implements on average 50 projects per year and has a project volume of 8-10 million Euro. The main donors are: Austrian government (Austrian Development Agency, Federal Provinces, etc.), European Commission (EuropeAid, European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, Erasmus, etc.), UN Agencies (UNHCR, UNDP, etc.), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Department for International Development (DFID), Foundations (Kahane Foundation, Else Kröner-Fresenius Foundation, Medicor Foundation, ERSTE Stiftung, etc.) and other private donations.
As a reliable partner to many international organisations and institutions, we ensure an adequate and efficient use of donation funds, committing ourselves to strictly independent financial auditing. HWA is in charge of managing large funds and has various levels of guaranteeing sound financial management. Expenditures are verified on country level via the Finance Officer as well as the Head of Mission. Moreover, all expenditures are checked at the international branch, where they are processed by the Desk Officers, the Financial Director and the accountants.
HWA has set up financial control procedures which are based on internationally recognised standards ensuring that there is adequate segregation of functions, prior authorizations for all transactions, and maintenance of an adequate audit trail for all transactions. The system is based on templates for all processes of HWA which have all the necessary controls engraved within them to ensure compliance. The financial control system also includes rigorous tendering processes which will ensure that purchased goods and services are of the highest standard and the least cost (HWA Internal Procurement Rules 2011).