Cordaid clarifies anti-poverty work in Netherlands

    Cordaid staff listens to a local community in Haiti where the NGO has an emergency relief and reconstruction program. The Catholic aid agency is introducing a program in the Netherlands, but clarified that work overseas will not be affected. Photo by: Cordaid

    A big Catholic aid agency is introducing an initiative aimed at boosting employment in the Netherlands, but clarifies that this does not in any way reflect a shift in its work and priorities.

    Cordaid is planning to introduce three projects centered on social entrepreneurship in the Netherlands, a new focus of the Dutch-based organization in line with its policy shift about a year ago to bring empowerment, security and opportunity in the 40 countries where it works, Director of Corporate Communications Sjef van der Lans told Devex.

    The first project: a social business in which unemployed people would get the chance to work with local farmers to sell fresh produce for a low price to people struggling to keep up with high living costs in the country.

    This is Cordaid’s first social entrepreneurship-focused project in the Netherlands, but not its first work in helping address poverty in the European country, contrary to recent reports.

    “Cordaid has been working in the Netherlands fighting poverty for almost 100 years now. So there’s nothing new about us also working in the Netherlands,” van der Lans explained.

    He noted however that the organization has garnered “overwhelming” support from companies and government institutions with the new focus.

    In previous years, the organization’s work in the Netherlands has focused on helping people at risk of exclusion and providing support to asylum seekers.

    Van der Lans noted the project may get bigger, but it will not cover more than 1 percent of the organization’s annual budget of some €129 million ($171 million).

    “We’re not going away from our international work. Our main business, our core business. But it is important to continue fighting poverty in your own country because that gives you the legitimacy to do the work abroad,” he said.

    Though not new for Cordaid, several European aid groups have started to focus their work domestically amid rising poverty in the region and dwindling resources. Several Red Cross chapters, for instance, are now focusing their attention on their respective countries after experiencing constraints in raising funds for overseas work.

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    About the author

    • Jenny Lei Ravelo

      Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.