Iceland is well-known for its foreign aid commitment and effectiveness, despite its comparatively small budget. Iceland’s foreign aid agency, the International Development Cooperation Agency (ICEIDA), focuses on the promotion of human rights, gender equality, peace and security, poverty, social justice, hunger and equal living conditions. Iceland partners with other countries and multilateral institutions to support the least-developed nations in the world, making it an exemplar of international development cooperation.
Iceland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs provides funding for various causes. In 2019, it granted ISK 187,5 million ($1,400,000) toward 16 development projects across 11 nations, as well as ISK 213,7 million ($1,600,000) to support crises in five nations. The Ministry granted these funds to a handful of Iceland’s NGO and CSO partners, including the following organizations. Here are six of Iceland’s foreign aid partners.
6 of Iceland’s Foreign Aid Partners
- Icelandic Red Cross (IFRC): The IFRC is part of the international Red Cross/Red Crescent movement. It engages in programs for harm reduction, emergency services, first aid, children and youth, day centers, immigrants and refugees, friendship services and asylum seekers. In 2019, the IFRC donated a total of ISK 70 million ($558,000) to aid Ebola relief efforts in Uganda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- ABC Children’s Aid: ABC Children’s Aid is an Icelandic relief organization that provides educational opportunities for children in poverty. In its first 30 years, ABC established operations in seven nations in Africa and Asia. In 2020, ABC received a grant from Iceland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs to electrify facilities in one of its Burkina Faso schools. School starts before dawn and ends after sunset, giving students no natural lighting by which to finish their homework. Once completed, this project will provide electricity for the near-800 day students and dormitory residents, many of whom come from families living in poverty, and strengthen opportunities for them to complete their education.
- Save the Children Iceland: Save the Children in Iceland emphasizes human rights for children, particularly in the realm of fighting “poverty, child trafficking, sex tourism” and homelessness. Save the Children has engaged in disaster relief projects in nearly 120 countries, and in 2019, assisted 144 million children worldwide. The Icelandic chapter also emphasizes the shaping of Icelandic policies, such as its 2020 commentary on a proposal for the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence.
- Icelandic Church Aid (ICA): ICA works to combat poverty in Iceland and abroad by providing water access, food security, housing and education to those in extreme need. In 2019-2020, ICA donated more than ISK 39 million ($285,000) to Malawi, Syria, and Jordan in the form of hurricane and war relief. At least 98% of Malawi’s target group and 2,300 individuals from Syria and Jordan received nutrition packets, sanitation and potable water. Additionally, ICA repaired wells and provided grain and agricultural tools for the next harvest year.
- SOS Children’s Villages Iceland: SOS meets the educational and basic needs of disadvantaged families and helps them toward self-sustainability. The Icelandic chapter, supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, funds projects in Ethiopia and the Philippines. Over the summer of 2020, one of SOS’s efforts was to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on 156 Ethiopian families and provide food supplements for their 43 malnourished children.
- U.N. Women National Committee Iceland: U.N. Women works to abolish violence, poverty and gender inequality in developing countries. The Icelandic chapter received approximately ISK 13 million ($96,000) annually from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs from 2016-2019 for awareness promotion and educational resources on women’s issues in developing countries. A Lebanese woman named Ibtissam Jaber is one individual who has benefited from U.N. Women’s involvement. She received encouragement to begin selling her food products at a 10-day market in Beirut and earned $4,000 on her first work venture outside of her home. She and other women have experienced increased freedom and economic equality through participation in U.N. Women projects.
These six foreign aid partners and their respective cause areas greatly benefit from Iceland’s effective foreign aid policies. According to its government website, Iceland’s foreign aid has emerged upon the principles of “safeguarding human lives, maintaining human dignity and reducing human suffering in crisis situations.” With its model for developmental cooperation, Iceland’s foreign aid stands as an inspiration to everyone working together to make the world a better place.
– Andria Pressel