ActionAid was founded in 1972 as a British charity delivering direct benefits to individual sponsored children.
By the end of the century it had evolved into a loosely connected family of European charities known as the ActionAid Alliance and our approach to child sponsorship had also changed considerably; direct benefits have been phased out; the child is now seen as an ambassador for her community and sponsors are asked to support an integrated package of work to tackle the causes and effects of poverty in that community, including rights-based advocacy and mobilisation.
ActionAid was founded in 2003 and registered as a Stichtung (Foundation) in the Netherlands. At the time of its founding the head office moved from London to Johannesburg.
Our engagement in Cambodia
ActionAid started its engagement in Cambodia in 2000 as a new country initiative from the ActionAid Regional Office in Bangkok. ActionAid Cambodia started its full-fledged country programme since July 2004 and is formally registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in January 19, 2005.
We partner with Community-Based Organisations (CBOs), NGOs, social movements, people’s organisation and activists and critically engage with governments, international organisations and private companies to ensure pro-poor policies, programmes and practices. Our innovative programme, social mobilisation and policy advocacy work focuses on issues of women’s rights, food security, education, governance, human security in conflict and emergencies and HIV/AIDS.
Our role is not to replace the responsibilities of the state but rather to ensure that the state is affirmative, accountable and committed to its responsibilities, particularly to the poor and marginalised. This can be most effectively done through our current direct contact with the most vulnerable groups, our work with partners and our involvement with other actors on specific issues. We need also to build stronger relations with different levels of government, seeking out those officials who are committed to the development of their country through justice and equality, and support them in their concerted efforts to do so.
Where we work (and don’t work)
- We have affiliates or country programmes in 43 countries around the world (Africa, Asia, the Americas and Western Europe) and employ about 2000 (mostly national) members of staff. Our International Secretariat is located in Johannesburg. In Asia we have offices in India, Nepal, China, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Cambodia and Vietnam with programme presence in Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Our Asia regional office is located in Bangkok, Thailand.
- We do not currently have programmes or affiliates in the Middle East, Central Asia or Eastern Europe.
- We are expanding fast in Europe with an ActionAid office recently opened in Sweden; partnership agreements with NiZA in the Netherlands and with SwissAid; and discussions are underway with potential partners in France, Denmark, and Australia.
Reasons for establishing ActionAid
The formation of ActionAid marked a recognition that efforts within each community and country are necessary but not enough to end poverty; we also need a global movement, led by poor and marginalised people, that cuts across national and south-north boundaries. The founding of ActionAid is our participation in, and contribution to, such a movement.
We seek to build an international organisation, governed and managed with the vision and leadership of people from both the north and the south. National boards will enhance our legitimacy and accountability to our supporters, collaborators, partners and poor people in the countries where we work.
ActionAid aims to create a unifying set of core values, common vision, identity, mission, strategy, standards and systems for collective and determined action across organisational and national boundaries. At the same time it also seeks to build a stronger international profile and platform that will attract greater attention not only from those we wish to influence but also other organisations which would like to join us with the poor and marginalised people in the fight against poverty.