Italian aid agencies are working to set up a group based on the UK’s Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), the network which aims to co-ordinate fundraising appeals in the wake of major disasters.
The Italian DEC is being set up with assistance from acevo, the UK’s Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations. Its International Programme recently brought together Brendan Gormley, CEO of the British DEC, Manuela Rossbach, CEO of the German ‘DEC’ Aktion Deutschland Hilft, and 11 Italian agencies in Rome to discuss the shape and functions of the committee.
Brendan Gormley said: “This meeting has shown me that Italian NGOs want to work together for more effective humanitarian action. This project is not only about fund-raising, it’s about empowering the aid agencies.”
Marco De Ponte, CEO of ActionAid International Italia, one of the Italian NGOs leading the process, said: This is a critical step towards the creation of an Italian DEC. Brendan and Manuela’s contributions were fundamental. We are also grateful to acevo’s International Programme for their help. I trust that this is the right path to correct the Italian anomaly, where citizens donate to the government, instead of to an NGO umbrella, like the DEC.”
Participants discussed the possible size, functions, logistics and membership criteria for an Italian Disaster Emergency Committee. In a final vote, all participants stated a desire to take the project forward.
The committee will act primarily to maximise donations as a central, non-partisan umbrella for relief organisations, allowing pooled funding and greater coordination for relief work.
The need for such a body has been recognised in Italy since 2000 when the first comparative study was undertaken and the first proposal was made. However this meeting represents the most serious and positive attempt to establish a body which has proven benefits in a number of European countries.
In recent years Italian NGO’s have struggled to raise sufficient funds for emergency relief, due to low public confidence in the wake of corruption scandals regarding the Arcobaleno mission during the Kosovo war.
Following the tsunami in 2004 a lack of NGO coordination led to the ‚€47 million of public donations going to the government, who then gave 52% of this to NGOs. In the UK the DEC raised £430 million (‚€628million) following the tsunami, all of which went to its member NGOs.
The next stage in the formation of an Italian DEC will be a meeting in Rome in September.
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