Andrea Mongia


The Skybird Programme, led by the Austrian Red Cross and its partners, aims at contributing to improved living conditions – incl. health, environment and livelihood – in East Africa through increased innovation, strengthened capacities and partnerships of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (RCRC) movement in WASH and related fields to enable more gender sensitive and effective WASH service delivery. Targeting the East African region, the programme has a specific focus on Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Somalia and Uganda.

The Sub-Grant Approach enables the Red Cross Red Crescent Branches to take the lead in proposal development, implementation, management and reporting on activities and therefore strengthens project management skills. Moreover, this approach ensures needs-based and community-driven interventions which results in more ownership by the community as well as by the Branch staff and volunteers.


The Sub-Grant method contributes significantly to the Branch Development and consequently to the National Society Development in general. This approach results in strengthened capacities of Branch staff and volunteers and therefore enhances the service delivery to the public.

The methodology ensures Community Engagement from the beginning of project development and full participation throughout the project cycle. The strengthened capacities enable Branches to apply for further funding and to support their respective HQs in proposal writing. Branches are empowered to also develop initiatives that can contribute to their financial sustainability.

Furthermore, this scheme allows project implementation in several regions within a country and therefore contributes to more visibility of the Red Cross in locations where otherwise there are no or a few projects implemented. Hence, the Branch can engage more intensively with the public authorities in the respective area and advocate for more support for the communities and Red Cross services.

Similarly, the increased visibility leads to more membership recruitment which also supports the financial sustainability of a Branch. Moreover, common training and workshops to strengthen the Branch’s capacities foster knowledge exchange among participating staff and volunteers. These occasions also create a good opportunity to raise awareness on cross-cutting topics such as Protection, Gender and Inclusion (PGI) and climate change among others.


Technical details & Operations

Selected Red Cross Red Crescent Branches are invited to undergo several training sessions to prepare them for the actual micro-project application process and implementation. These trainings include Design Thinking, Proposal Writing, PMER, PR, PGI and other relevant cross-cutting topics. After a Design Thinking workshop, the program provides mentoring for several weeks. During this period the participating Branches can consult their communities as well as public authorities and reach out to a pool of experts to seek guidance and technical input. At the end of the mentoring process, the Branches pitch their ideas to an independent expert panel. The ideas will be rated and the best concepts are invited to develop a full proposal.

Additionally, Branch Organisational Capacity Assessments (BOCA) at the initial stage can also inform the proposal writing process to consider direct support to the Branch to ensure an effective and efficient project implementation. The proposals submitted will be reviewed by a pool of experts and feedback is provided to Branches to review their proposals accordingly. After the final submission, the panel ranks the project proposals and allocates the available funds. The Branches that are selected for the micro-grants can then start the implementation immediately. During the implementation process, there are regular meetings with all the Branches to foster collaboration and knowledge exchange. Furthermore, the participating Branches are required to work closely with the PMER department to document the learnings so that they can be shared with the wider network. The documentation will reveal potential ideas for scaling and hence inform future program and project development.


Deployment & Impact

The impact of the micro-grant approach is felt on several levels. The micro-project solution boosts the community engagement and accountability approach.

The project ownership increases significantly which contributes to timely implementation and more sustainability of the intervention beyond the project period. Community engagement and ownership as well as the training provided to the Branch staff regarding cross-cutting themes ensures highly relevant services and interventions that improve the living conditions of the most disadvantaged and marginalised people in the targeted communities.

The innovative and contextualised approaches developed by the communities with the support of the Branches enable a transformative approach in the different sectors. The methodology contributes significantly to the Branch Development which consequently results in the general National Society Development.

Strengthened National Societies and their Branches will be able to provide services to their communities in a more sustainable manner. The strengthened capacities enable the National Societies and Branches to apply successfully for more grants and therefore provide more services to the targeted communities. Additionally, the visibility generated in several locations across the countries leads to an increase in membership that will allow the Branches to improve their financial sustainability as well and therefore continue to provide core Red Cross services to their communities.

Some concrete figures about the project :

  • 200,000 people were reached directly through 32 micro-projects across 6 countries, with budgets ranging from 12,000 to 110,000 €
  • Total budget: 1.5 million € for micro-projects only