Icelandic Church Aid

Hjálparstarf kirkjunnar / Icelandic Church Aid (ICA) is an independent foundation established by the National Church of Iceland in 1970. It is governed by a council of representatives. Each Church Parish appoints its representative and a deputy, and five are selected by the Church Council. Each congregation is also encouraged to appoint a representative to the council, meeting twice a year.

The role of ICA is to initiate and coordinate humanitarian assistance and development cooperation carried out in the name of the Icelandic Church. Its broad aim is to assist people in need, regardless of its cause and regardless of nationality, race, religion or political ideas. Our work is organized and carried out in close cooperation with people and institutions we know and trust. ICA participates in the work of two important international organizations: The Lutheran World Federation and ACT Alliance. ICA does not confine all its work to distant places. Since its foundation it has also assisted people in Iceland suffering from economic poveverty.

Since its foundation in 1970, ICA has assisted people in need in Iceland in close cooperation with pastors and Social Workers countrywide. Families living below the poverty threshold are provided with material assistance through gift cards in food and clothing stores, payment of medical bills in an emergency, second-hand clothing, special support for children to be able to participate in extracurricular activities with their peers etc. Three ICA Social Workers offer counselling and organize various training courses and projects in cooperation with participants leading to their empowerment and social inclusion.

Emergency aid

Our Social Workers meet with applicants for material assistance in walk-in appointments on Wednesdays from 12 noon to 15 PM. Applicants are requested to provide information regarding income and basic living expenses such as rent, heat, electricity, child care and insurance. The Debtors´ Ombudsman minimum budget to support a family, helps us define the need of the applicant and many receive assistance in the form of a gift card in food stores, second hand clothing, payment of drug costs and more. PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT DUE TO COVID-19 WEARING A MASK IS MANDATORY AT OUR OFFICE. WE ALSO ADVISE YOU TO FILL OUT THIS FORM BEFORE YOU COME TO OUR OFFICE FOR ASSISTANCE.

Special emphasis is on responding to the needs of children and assistance is available to youth, who are financially not able to support themselves during secondary studies. ICA´s assistance aims at helping them graduate and be able to enter University level studies or graduate with certificates that make them more competitive on the job market.

Empowerment projects

ICA´s Social Workers work with people in need, responding to individual cases in an appropriate manner. Various counselling, free of charge, is offered as wells as self-help courses and activities aiming for social inclusion of the participants.


Information collected through individual interviews, enables ICA Social Workers to lobby for support measures from government and municipalities. ICA Social Workers participate in public committees promoting civil rights and pointing out various problems ICA beneficiaries face. Together with other NGOs and beneficiaries, ICA works on different levels at encouraging the law maker and the public to strife for social justice and equality.

The role of ICA is to respond to the needs of those most severely affected by global challenges such as conflict and climate change resulting in an increased number of natural hazards leading to disasters. These challenges have left millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance across several sectors such as food security, livelihood, protection and shelter.

We provides humanitarian assistance mainly in cooperation with the Lutheran World Federation Department for World Service (LWF DWS) and ACT Alliance. Through them, ICA has access to expertise in specialized fields and directs funds to assist the poorest of the poor. All work is done in close partnership with organizations and people at the grassroots’ level.

The Lutheran World Federation is an alliance of 148 churches in 99 countries, representing over 75,5 million people. The LWF DWS is its humanitarian and development arm. In 2018 it ran country programs and emergency operations in 25 countries in Africa, Asia including the Middle East, and Latin America and the Caribbean, to assist over 2.7 million people in challenging humanitarian contexts.

ACT Alliance is a coalition of 155 churches and faith-based organizations working together in over 140 countries to create positive and sustainable change in the lives of poor and marginalized people regardless of their religion, politics, gender, sexual orientation, race or nationality and in keeping with the highest international codes and standards. ACT Alliance coordinates emergency assistance on behalf of the LWF and the World Council of Churches, as well as long-term development cooperation and strong advocacy projects. It is supported by 30,000 staff and mobilises about 3 billion USD for its work each year.

ICA Humanitarian Assistance from July 2018 – June 2019

In July 2017, ICA assisted the chess club Hrokurinn in a fundraising campaign to help the inhabitants of Nuugaatsiaq, on the Western coast of Greenland cope with the effects of a huge tsunami causing casualties and serious damage to the infrastructure of the settlement. In July 2018, ICA transferred a sum of one million ISK to a special fund, created for children in the area.

In June 2018, ICA responded to the ACT Alliance appeal ETH181 to save lives and mitigate the effects of a dire drought combined with an ethno-political conflict in Oromia and Somali Regional States of Ethiopia. The project spanned over a period of one year.

In September 2018, ICA supported with funds the ACT Alliance appeal PSE181 to provide emergency response in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for a period of one year.

In January 2019, ICA provided funds to the ACT Alliance appeal SYR181 to enhance the economic resilience and livelihood opportunities of Syrian refugees and vulnerable host communities in Jordan for a period of 15 months, from January 2018 – March 2019.

In January 2019, ICA supported with funds the ACT Alliance appeal IRQ191 to support IDPs, refugees, returnees and host communities in the autonomous Kurdish areas in North and West Iraq for a period of 1 year.

In January 2019, ICA supported with funds the ACT Alliance appeal SSD181 to provide emergency response to a worsening humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. Project implementation period is two years, August 2018 – August 2020.

In January 2019, ICA supported with funds the ACT Alliance appeal IDN182 to provide emergency assistance to people affected by an earthquake and Tsunami in Central Sulawesi in September 2018. The project implementation period is from October 2018 – September 2020.

ICA follows the Sustainable Development Agenda of the United Nations to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. To do so, ICA engages in development cooperation with some of the world’s poorest communities. We encourage the recipients to take an active part in carrying out the projects. Their participation and ownership is key to lasting changes and sustainability. We take all possible care to ensure that our projects harmonize with the local environment, its people’s customs, culture and tradition though no custom or tradition will be valued higher than human rights as agreed by the United Nations.

Ensuring access to water and food security

Water is scarce in ICA´s intervention areas in Ethiopia and Uganda. One of the main objectives of our development cooperation projects is to ensure access to water through the construction of water tanks, shallow wells and cisterns. Beneficiaries form water committees and receive training for the maintenance of wells and their surroundings. Latrines are constructed, and hygiene and sanitation practises are taught for personal needs and the cleanliness of the home and its surroundings.

With more water accessible, irrigation sustains diverse new crops used to supplement main crops and improve soil. Tools are supplied as well as training in processing and storing of harvests, food and water. Para vets receive training in care of animal husbandry which in turn increases general productivity where low productivity and diseases have been a constraint on farming. A water source within easy reach also saves time. More girls go to school, mothers have more time for child rearing, food production and economic activities.

Environmental protection is integrated into water and livelihood schemes; teaching, training and tools work together to conserve soil along with new species for food and fodder, inter-cropping, manure as fertilizers, tree nurseries, water harvesting and hygiene.

In our projects, government agents, traditional leaders and beneficiaries all receive training on local and international law on conservation, responsible and equitable use of natural resources, along with disaster preparedness linked to drought and floods. Bringing them together links duty bearers and rights holders, increases understanding, explains shortcomings and eases cooperation. People understand how water, soil and trees, crops and refuse are all linked together. They understand how a different approach in one area leads to more success in another.

Empowering women benefits all

ICA development cooperation projects beneficiaries live in absolute poverty in the harshest environments. Not because it is their choice, it is all they can afford. To develop their skills to fight for their own rights, ICA´s work is becoming more and more rights based. Beneficiaries participate fully in projects, learning not only new methods and thus improving their daily lives, but more importantly also about their rights and how to claim them.

Women in our intervention areas in Ethiopia have no access to nor control over productive resources (especially land and livestock). Women are also excluded from extension and training services provided by local institutions. Furthermore, women are excluded from the decision-making processes at community level. The effect on rural poverty and poor health conditions is aggravated by these deep rooted traditional, social and cultural practices which biases against women.

Through participation in ICA´s development cooperation projects, people, especially women, learn to assess their situation, put their ideas into words and claim their place at the decision-making table. Extensive work is done with traditional and religious leaders, government agents and institutions to influence behaviour and recognize the various aspects of poverty and how funds and services can be channeled to reduce it.

Shelter and education for a chance at life

In the Ugandan districts of Lyantonde and Rakai, where orphaned children struggle with adult responsibilities, taking care of younger siblings as head of household, ICA continues its support to counter the effects of HIV/AIDS and provides affected families with housing, household items, beddings, mosquito nets, goats, poultry and more.

In Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, ICA supports the work of Uganda Youth Development Link, UYDEL, with vulnerable youth in urban slums. Huge unemployment and related income poverty problems make young people very vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. UYDEL offers skills training in youth centers enabling them to find a means of livelihood.

In India, ICA continues its support towards children and youth and provides support for primary, secondary and even university studies.

Icelandic Church Aid (ICA) is a nonprofit organization, established in 1970 by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland, the National Church. It is governed by a council of representatives from different regions of the country. Each church parish can appoint its representative, which many have done, and five are selected by the Church Council. The council of representatives meets twice a year and selects a three member board of directors and two proxies, to take responsibility for the daily running of the organization. The board of directors employs a director to run it with additional staff.

The idea of ICA was born in 1969, when the Church participated in a very successful nationwide fundraising march against hunger for the starving population of war-torn Biafra, then a secessionist state in West-Africa. It was certainly not the first contribution the Church had made abroad for people in need, but this particular fundraising sparked ideas of establishing organized relief work on the pattern of that in our neighboring countries. So it was in the fall of 1969 that the Convocation passed the motion that 1% of the annual income of all the clergy should go to relief work and the foundation of Icelandic Church Aid was established a few months later, on January 9, 1970. From that time on ICA has participated in relief work in many parts of the world.

Our relief work is organized and carried out in close cooperation with local people and institutions. ICA is a member of experienced and professional international organizations; The Lutheran World Federation Department for World Service and the ACT Alliance, a network coordinating humanitarian assistance and development cooperation. ICA also collaborates with its counterparts in the other Nordic countries, which, being larger institutions with greater resources usually have their own people stationed in the stricken areas, something ICA unfortunately lacks the means and manpower to do. Last but not least, we have close ties with individuals and institutions in the countries where we work, people with first hand knowledge of conditions. They keep us informed about the work in progress with regular reports and budget analyses in between regular monitoring visits to project areas.

ICA depends almost entirely on public contributions for its income. You are welcome to join our regular supporters who contribute funds to our programs with a monthly donation, and so do the clergy and many of the parishes. Organized fundraising campaigns among the public are an important source of income, the largest one being before Christmas.