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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
© Annet Kyambadde/CARE International - Uganda, 2020
Capacity building


What is it?

Capacity building strengthens the ability of the humanitarian sector to provide aid effectively. Its goal is to (i) help organisations to adjust well to the latest developments in a given sector or area, (ii) improve the quality of response, (iii) test new approaches or adopt new ways of working, (iv) scale-up innovation, and (v) strengthen cooperation and collective response to crises.

Through capacity building, humanitarian organisations share knowledge, expertise and good practices to react better and faster to emergencies. In turn, working in a coordinated and complementary way will help them respond to humanitarian needs effectively and efficiently.

Why is this important?

The capacity of humanitarian organisations to deliver aid is stretched to the limit. Even though humanitarian funding has increased significantly over the past few years, global needs have grown disproportionately.

The United Nations estimates that 274 million people will need humanitarian assistance in 2022. This is an increase of almost 40 million people from 2021 estimates. Thus, the gap between humanitarian needs and the resources available globally is increasing.

In this challenging context, humanitarian actors need to constantly adapt in the face of new challenges and better cooperate to maximise their impact on the well-being of those in need.

It includes, for example:

  • developing protocols for the safe sharing of personal data
  • strengthening the responders’ capacity to consider persons with disabilities in their programming
  • making humanitarian assistance, such as shelter or water pumps, environmentally sustainable.  

How are we helping?

The European Commission helps increase the response capacity and shape the governance of the international humanitarian system through the Enhanced Response Capacity (ERC) funds. In 2022, we allocated €19.8 million for ERC funds.

The ERC provides seed funding to initiatives that introduce and develop new approaches and ways of working for the benefit of the humanitarian sector.

These initiatives need to make an impact and be viable. Therefore, we aim that every euro spent has the greatest possible impact on the lives of the most vulnerable people.

For 2022, the Commission has identified the following areas in which global capacity interventions are likely to improve humanitarian action.

Innovative financing

It means using humanitarian grants to catalyse, de-risk and draw in additional financing to support investments to address existing humanitarian needs. This is especially relevant in a tougher economic climate due to COVID-19 and with an increasing number of conflicts.


This means the responsible use of technology in humanitarian response. The digitalisation helps to make humanitarian response more efficient, accountable and cost-effective. It also engages the skills and technical expertise of the private sector and research communities.

International humanitarian law (IHL)

To support actions of humanitarian partners that improve compliance with IHL by both armed and non-state armed groups. The aim is to protect civilians and their infrastructure, as well as humanitarian and medical workers in armed conflicts.

Disaster displacement

This includes (i) supporting disaster preparedness, research and data collection activities, (ii)  strengthening operational responses to assist forcibly displaced populations, and (iii) strengthening multilateralism to mobilise coordinated global efforts in this area.

Support for the Grand Bargain process

The Grand Bargain is a unique agreement between some of the world’s largest donors and humanitarian organisations. It aims to improve the way humanitarian aid is delivered by making it more effective and efficient.

Addressing environmental degradation in humanitarian settings

To protect the natural environment and reduce the risk posed by environmental degradation to the most vulnerable populations. This also includes our commitment to reducing the environmental footprint of EU humanitarian action while supporting our partners to follow the same path.

Anticipatory action

This is a way to reduce the humanitarian impact of climate change and bolster the resilience of communities, including forcibly displaced groups, in vulnerable and disaster-prone regions.

Last updated: 04/10/2022

Facts & figures

Between 2017 and 2021, the EU has funded over 30 projects under its Enhanced Response Capacity (ERC) instrument with more than €20 million.

Under the 2022 Humanitarian Implementation Plan, the EU allocated €19.8 million for new projects to be funded under the ERC.

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