Friday, August 28, 2009

Cuts force Trócaire pull out

Catholic aid agency Trócaire will pull out of four countries and lay off almost 30 staff as a result of a €10m fall in revenue this year.

Trócaire has revealed plans to withdraw from Zambia, Nigeria, Peru and Indonesia in the coming months, reducing the number of countries it currently works in from 31 to 27, with earlier than planned withdrawals from a further 10 countries.

The agency will also lay off 27 staff within the next three years. It is currently seeking 12 voluntary redundancies from Irish offices by next February and will seek a further 15 redundancies by February of the following year.

In May of this year, Government funding to Trócaire was cut by 20 per cent, from an expected €23m to €16m, while, in the same period, donations from the public fell by 10 per cent (or €3 million). Director, Justin Kilcullen told this paper that it was the worst funding crisis the agency has ever experienced.

The affected country programmes, which cost the agency €2.1 million last year, include human rights and HIV/AIDS support in Nigeria; tsunami relief in Indonesia, disaster relief in Peru and training for local organisations in Zambia.

This will be followed by earlier-than-planned exits from Brazil, Tanzania, the Philippines and Angola and will end non-emergency work in Sri Lanka in the coming years.

Trócaire is now anticipating a shortfall for €21.3 million by 2011, as further cuts to the overseas aid budget are expected.

''The agency had never before faced a crisis such as this in terms of funds drying up,'' Mr Kilcullen told The Irish Catholic.

He criticised the recommendations of the McCarthy report to axe a further €15 million from the Overseas Development Aid budget, saying cuts had already been disproportionate.

''To cut it again would result in more vital projects being cut.

''We want to make it known that enough is enough, the poorest need some security and protection. They're also experiencing the recession too and it has greater consequences for them.''

Earlier this year, Goal and Concern announced similar redundancies. Concern, the country's biggest development agency laid off 19 workers from its 182 staff, while Goal almost halved its Irish workforce, losing nine of its 21 staff.

It followed the Government's May announcement that grants to Irish NGOs would be slashed by 20 - 25 per cent, as part of a cumulative reduction of €255 million in the ODA budget in the past year.
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