In a significant move toward co-operation among Christian aid agencies, two Church-based agencies have planned to merge next March to form a giant global aid alliance with "access to budget exceeding two billion U.S. dollars."
Action by Churches Together (ACT) International, a Church-based emergency aid agency and ACT Development, another aid agency with the same name focusing on development planned to merge next March, stated the statement made by the general assembly of ACT Development, holding its meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina on May 27.
The public statement said, the new organization to be called 'ACT Alliance' will bring together more than 150 agencies, churches and organisations with a common income of more than US$2 billion dollars and staffs numbering 40 000, including volunteers.
The director of ACT International, John Nduna, said, "The magic of ACT is the cooperation with churches all over the world. When most infrastructure collapses, there is still a church that operates and that we are working with. That represents a unique network. ACT saves thousands of lives every year, it is impossible to say how many."
The director ACT Development, Jill Hawkey said, "The unification is a great moment for our member, since most of them work in both long-term development and emergency response. It makes sense to them coming together like this."
"Together, the new ACT Alliance has a huge potential. The combined resources for the members are proximately two billion US dollar. Now we have the opportunity, and the tools, for a more strategic use of these funds," he added.
Elizabeth Kaseke of Christian Care, Zimbabwe commenting on the grand alliance said, "I am excited, there is time to raise the flag for the ecumenical movement. In ACT Alliance the voices from the global south are heard, and we sit at the table. The new network will deliver quality work, global initiatives and gives us an opportunity to participate in discussions on key issues."
Through emergency appeals, ACT International coordinates humanitarian operations all over the world, and has been recently active in hot spots like Sri Lanka, Gaza, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Colombia and India.
ACT Development works on long-term development issues and coordinates work in areas such as aid effectiveness, impact assessment and malaria. The members of the alliances come from both the global north and south.
"We have managed to create a faith based network for development and emergencies. Now we have to invest in it. ACT Alliance will put religion and development high on the global agenda. There have been positive and negative experiences with that mix in the past. I hope ACT can be a body for the positive," said Jack van Hem, general director, ICCO, Netherlands.
ACT International and ACT Development both Geneva based aid agencies are supported by mainly Protestant and Orthodox churches along with their development and aid organizations.
Forty representatives at the ACT Development General Assembly voted for the unification with two votes against.