A robust, vibrant and functioning civil society is a measure of development. This is why cooperation with civil society organisations (CSOs) makes up a major component of sustainable development cooperation and development policy. Civil-society actors are engaged worldwide in helping to solve different sets of problems: In countries with weak public institutions, they often make a contribution to providing basic social services. They advance participation in social policymaking and discussion, undertake supervisory functions and demand respect for human rights and rule of law. With their know-how and experience, CSOs deploy donor resources where they are most needed.

The Austrian Development Agency cofinances projects and programmes by civil society organisations with various funding instruments. Applicant organisations must be located in Austria, based in civil society and cooperate with a partner organisation in developing countries. The projects and programmes are instigated by the CSOs themselves and are tailored to the specific needs of local target groups. The CSOs’ own contributions depend on the funding instrument and country where the project/programme is carried out.

Funding priorities are direct poverty reduction, developing self-help capacities and strengthening local institutions. These include a diverse range of themes, primarily comprising rural development, food security, water supply & sanitation, education/training, human rights and peacekeeping, disaster prevention and environmental protection and climate change.

The Austrian federal states, as well as some municipalities, also act as donors of official development assistance.