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Emergency capacity building

ENHance programme in Bangladesh. Credit: Laure Anquez/Oxfam

At a glance 

The ECB Project aimed to improve the speed, quality and effectiveness of the humanitarian sector to save lives, protect livelihoods and defend rights.


Humanitarian emergencies are increasing in frequency and severity, threatening lives and livelihoods across the world. To tackle this challenge, six international humanitarian agencies started working together in 2005 under the umbrella of the Emergency Capacity Building project or ECB.

Joint initiatives focused on three areas: staff capacity, disaster risk reduction, and accountability and impact measurement. They took place in ECB consortia sites in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Indonesia, the Horn of Africa and Niger.

The project formally ended in August 2013, but a wide array of tools and resources are available below and via the ECB Project website, where you will also find more details about the project. 

Oxfam's role in ECB

1. Oxfam led a country-level consortium in Bolivia

The Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies in Bolivia consisted of the national staff of nine international NGOs (ACH, CARE, Christian Aid, CRS, HelpAge, Oxfam, Plan International, Save the Children, and World Vision) who worked with local partners on joint approaches to capacity building, emergency preparedness and response, and coordination with the wider sector.

Oxfam provided technical support from global and regionally-based advisers on the ECB Project's three cross-cutting themes, as well as on fundraising and financial management. The Bolivia consortium was proactive in seeking funds for joint initiatives, while Oxfam funded core costs and contributed further funding for specific activities. For more on the initiatives of the Consortium in Bolivia visit:

2. Oxfam led global-level inter-agency projects on behalf of the ECB agencies

Key examples include:

3. Oxfam mainstreamed ECB Project approaches and shared learning

The ECB Project provided Oxfam with a focus and a platform through which to collaborate. It enabled Oxfam to continue to develop and deliver high-quality, appropriate and effective capacity building programmes within high-risk countries, alongside other agencies. 

Oxfam sought to integrate successful approaches and tools from the ECB Project within the organisation and also to share Oxfam's experiences openly with ECB colleagues, in order to learn from one another. The Building Trust in Diverse Teams facilitation handbook is an example of an ECB tool that Oxfam uses widely in staff development.

One unexpected area of learning has been around consortium fundraising for joint agency capacity development initiatives. Oxfam captured the ECB Project's learning in a case study which is available in English, French and Spanish. This has been shared widely with Oxfam's funding teams around the world, as well as with the other ECB agencies.

ECB partner agencies

ECB logo

There are six international humanitarian agencies working together under the ECB umbrella: