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Formation1972; 51 years ago (1972)
FounderCecil Jackson-Cole
TypeInternational NGO
Legal statusNonprofit organization
PurposeActionAid works with communities to reduce poverty and promote human rights
HeadquartersJohannesburg, South Africa
Region served
Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, Americas
Child sponsors
Secretary General
Arthur Larok

ActionAid is an international non-governmental organization whose stated primary aim is to work against poverty and injustice worldwide.[1]

ActionAid is a federation of 45 country offices that works with communities, often via local partner organisations, on a range of development issues. It was founded in 1972 by Cecil Jackson-Cole as a child sponsorship charity (originally called Action in Distress) when 88 UK supporters sponsored 88 children in India and Kenya, the primary focus being is providing children with an education, further the human rights for all, assisting people that are in poverty, assisting those who face discrimination,[2] and also assist people who face injustice.[1] ActionAid works with over 15 million people in 45 countries to assist those people.[1]

Today its head office is located in South Africa with hubs in Asia, the Americas and Europe. ActionAid was the first big INGO to move its headquarters from the global north to the global south.[3][4] ActionAid's current strategy aims to "build international momentum for social, economic and environmental justice, driven by people living in poverty and exclusion".[5]

Tax and economic justice[edit]

ActionAid has been campaigning for tax justice since 2008, conducting research into the effects of various international tax treaties and supporting local people and organizations to hold their governments to account.[6] It argues that losing tax revenue to avoidance harms the world's poorest and most marginalized people, who depend on tax-funded public services.[7][8] It is also often the case that the tax revenue lost in these treaties can exceed the amount of international aid money send to developing countries.[9]

In 2011, ActionAid revealed that 98% of the UK's FTSE 100 companies use tax havens.[10] In 2013 its research into corporate tax avoidance in Zambia showed that Associated British Foods were avoiding paying millions of dollars in corporate tax.[11]

Women's rights[edit]

ActionAid integrates women's rights into all of its programming and project work, but also undertakes campaigns that focus specifically on these issues.

Notable examples have included raising awareness about unpaid care work[12][13] and sexual harassment[14] and violence[15] (including acid attacks[16]) in Bangladesh, offering free cancer tests to women in Nigeria who could not afford them,[17] and tackling female genital mutilation in Sweden.[18]

Climate justice[edit]

ActionAid's advocacy work on climate change focuses on climate justice, guided by the experiences and needs of its country's programmes. Its most prominent engagement comes through the annual Conference of Parties, where it supports communities vulnerable to climate change to influence decision-making processes.

It calls for rich countries to live up to pledges of providing climate adaptation grants[19][20][21] and pushes for agreements to improve the lives of those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.[22] ActionAid was also critical of climate insurance policies, such as those purchased by Malawi in 2015, since those insurance policies fail to deliver when they are desperately needed.[23]

Emergencies and humanitarian aid[edit]

ActionAid promotes women's leadership in humanitarian responses, arguing that women are best positioned to identify their needs and those of the communities around them in times of crisis.[24] Strengthening citizens' rights is also a focus, such as campaigning with Haitians for greater transparency and accountability in how aid money was spent after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[25]

As it has established relationships with communities and other NGOs in countries that are prone to ecological events, ActionAid is often able to respond quickly to emergencies. Notable crises and responses have included the Boxing Day tsunami in 2010 in the Indian ocean,[26] drought in East Africa[27][28] and India,[29] and floods in Ghana,[30] Rwanda,[31] Sierra Leone,[32] Bangladesh and Nepal.

On 4 October 2018 ActionAid announced that Pakistan government has ordered 18 international aid groups to leave the country.[33]

Child sponsorship[edit]

Child sponsorship is one of ActionAid's primary sources of income. Donors sponsor an individual child[34] from a community in a developing country and receive regular updates about the child's progress and development.

Sponsorship funds support the child's whole community, "so children have a healthy and safe place to live and grow up." This support takes the form of providing clean water, healthcare, agricultural programmes, education centres in areas where schools are not available, and community income generation schemes.[35]

In 2018, ActionAid USA stopped using the child sponsorship method of fundraising, and switched to a monthly giving program.


As ActionAid has grown in influence, building alliances with like-minded organisations has become a key focus area. Announcing this approach at the World Social Forum in 2015,[36] ActionAid has played a role in convening civil society and community groups to tackle issues of youth political participation in the Middle East[37] and global inequality.[38]

Supporting social causes through the mass media[edit]

ActionAid made India's first Bollywood film focusing on AIDS,[citation needed] Ek Alag Mausam, a love story involving HIV positive people, based on a script by playwright Mahesh Dattani.[39]

ActionAid also supported Shyam Benegal's film, Samar, which is based on the book Unheard Voices: Stories of Forgotten Lives by Harsh Mander.[40] The film raises issues about Dalits.[39]

Notable Leaders[edit]

Esther Agbarakwe Youngest chair person for General Assembly of ActionAid.

Javeria Malik [41][42] is the first Pakistani woman[43] to lead the Global Safety and Security Unit at ActionAid International and was featured [41] on the official website of International Women's Day 2022. INSSA Insights has featured Javeria as the first female Chairperson of the International NGO Safety & Security Association. Her interview published by the city security magazine was nominated for the best article of the year award.[44] She was interviewed by Global Interagency Security Forum [45] to speak on the topic of inclusivity and anti racism in the nonprofit and aid sector.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Who we are". ActionAid. Archived from the original on 20 August 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
  2. ^ "What we do | ActionAid". Archived from the original on 13 November 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  3. ^ Campolina, Adriano (10 October 2015). "Facilitating more than leading". Development and Cooperation. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  4. ^ Patton, Anna (6 October 2014). "'Internationalizing' your NGO: 4 lessons from ActionAid". Devex. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Strategy 2028: Action for Global Justice". Archived from the original on 20 August 2018. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  6. ^ Ricks, Jenny (7 July 2015). "The anatomy of a campaign: tax justice, ActionAid". The Guardian.
  7. ^ "How Tax Havens Plunder the Poor". Global Policy Forum.
  8. ^ "ActionAid report says "shady" tax treaties disproportionately favour multinationals, increasing inequality & poverty in poor countries". Business and Human Rights Resource Centre.
  9. ^ "Bistånd verkar inte i ett vakuum". Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). 16 February 2012.
  10. ^ Gribbin, Alice (11 October 2011). "98 of FTSE 100 companies use tax havens". New Statesman.
  11. ^ Boffey, Daniel (9 February 2013). "Sugar manufacturer Associated British Foods avoids paying corporate tax in Zambia – video". The Guardian.
  12. ^ Hill, Amelia (22 September 2016). "Women do four years more work than men in lifetime, report shows". The Guardian.
  13. ^ Foster, Dawn (17 July 2015). "Women's paid and unpaid work, and the colonial hangover". openDemocracy.
  14. ^ "50% women face unwanted touching at markets: Study". The Daily Star. 17 July 2017.
  15. ^ Cope, Rebecca (8 December 2016). "Gemma Chan Shares Powerful Stories From Sexual Violence Victims In New ActionAid Film". Grazia.
  16. ^ Zamfir, Gabriel; Kara O'Neill (9 March 2017). "Brave acid attack victims take to catwalk as they 'refuse to hide their faces'". The Mirror.
  17. ^ "Actionaid Nigeria Offers Free Cancer Tests to 100 Women". This Day. 18 May 2017.
  18. ^ "'Tusentals flickor i Sverige riskerar könsstympning'". Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). 14 June 2017.
  19. ^ Rowling, Megan (20 November 2015). "How conflict increases countries' climate change risk". World Economic Forum.
  20. ^ Goering, Laurie (9 November 2016). "Trump win will not derail global climate effort, activists vow". Reuters.
  21. ^ "WWF, Care And Action Aid Launch Adaptation Report". Blue & Green Tomorrow. 11 November 2016.
  22. ^ Harvey, Fiona (14 December 2015). "Paris climate change deal too weak to help poor, critics warn". The Guardian.
  23. ^ "Action Aid faults drought insurance that failed Malawi".
  24. ^ Higelin, Michelle (25 May 2016). "World Humanitarian Summit: Time to shift power to women on the frontlines". Left Foot Forward.
  25. ^ "Two years on, ActionAid's earthquake response continues, but huge challenges remain". ReliefWeb. 11 January 2012.
  26. ^ "Finance: ActionAid close to budget on its six-month tsunami relief spend". Third Sector. 29 June 2005.
  27. ^ "Mobile phones save lives in remote African communities affected by drought". Tech4Good Awards.
  28. ^ "ActionAid appeals for help in drought-hit areas of East Africa". 25 June 2019.
  29. ^ Rao, Mohit M. (29 April 2017). "Unprecedented crop loss in State, says ActionAid". The Hindu.
  30. ^ "ActionAid donates to Dome flood victims". GhanaWeb. 23 June 2015.
  31. ^ "Action Aid donates to flood victims". The New Times, Rwanda. 26 May 2010.
  32. ^ "Sierra Leone: Action Aid Donates Food Items to Flood Victims". All Africa.
  33. ^ "Pakistan Tells 18 International NGOs To Leave Country: Report". Reuters. 4 October 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  34. ^ "ActionAid: the welcome to child sponsorship package".
  35. ^ "Six things you should know about sponsoring a child". ActionAid UK.
  36. ^ Campolina, Adriano (23 March 2015). "World Social Forum can inspire activists to unite against the global power grab". The Guardian.
  37. ^ Azzeh, Laila (6 August 2017). "NGO seizes election opportunity to boost youth's political mobilisation". The Jordan Times.
  38. ^ "About – Fight Inequality". Archived from the original on 19 November 2017. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  39. ^ a b "'Ek Alag Mausam' based on AIDS". Archived from the original on 4 January 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  40. ^ "Working for change". The Hindu. 20 May 2001. Archived from the original on 29 July 2003. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  41. ^ a b "NGO Safety and Security Lead, Board Chair, Crisis Manager and Security Trainer". International Women's Day. Retrieved 30 October 2022.
  42. ^ CSD (1 August 2014). "Security from Experience VI: Javeria Malik (ActionAid International)". CSD - Centre for Safety and Development. Retrieved 30 October 2022.
  43. ^ Bennett, Gayle (14 November 2017). "ActionAid Inspires Women in Security". NSI. Retrieved 30 October 2022.
  44. ^ "Javeria Malik - Global Security Advisor ActionAid International". City Security Magazine. 15 February 2019. Retrieved 30 October 2022.
  45. ^ Inclusive Security E6: Security Managers of Today, retrieved 30 October 2022

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