Caritas Internationalis Lauds Africa for “doing very well” in Professional Standards

Annamária Vrzáčková, the Program Manager of Caritas Internationalis Management Standards (CI MS) at a training workshop of Caritas Africa and Caritas MONA in Nairobi Kenya. Credit: ACI Africa

Out of the 46 African member organizations of Caritas Internationalis (CI), 37 are already in the process of implementing CI’s management standards, a figure that is laudable, according to officials of the international humanitarian entity.

Facilitators at a four-day training workshop that was organized in Kenya's capital city, Nairobi, to equip participants with more knowledge on the revised Caritas Internationalis Management Standards (CI MS) expressed optimism that the nine organizations that have not yet embraced the international standards would come on board after the training.

“More than 80 percent of our member organizations in Africa have already gone through the assessment. This figure indicates that we are doing very well here in Africa,” the Program Manager of CI MS, Annamária Vrzáčková, told ACI Africa on the sidelines of the training.

Annamária added, in the Thursday, November 23 interview, “Nine organizations in Africa are not yet in the process of implementation but we hope that these too will come on board after this training.”

She said that a number of obstacles, including size stand in the way of most organizations that are seeking to adhere to the CI standards.


“Some of these organizations think that they are too small to use our standards tool, which they find extremely overwhelming. At the end of this four-day program, they have realized that the tool is actually practical even to a small staff,” the CI Official said.

The revised CI MS has been in force since 1 January 2021, ensuring that all the 162 member organizations across the globe provide services in a professional manner.

It provides sets of policies and guidelines on five areas which are: Safeguarding, Laws and Ethical Codes, Governance and Organisation, Finance Accountability, and Stakeholder Involvement.

The training workshop, which was concluded on November 23 also targeted CI MS Coordinators from Caritas North Africa and the Middle East (MONA).

Representatives from MONA Caritas Jordan, Caritas Djibouti and Caritas Morocco joined 15 Caritas Africa organizations who participated in the workshop.

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In an interview with ACI Africa, the Regional Coordinator of Caritas MONA, Karam Abi Yazbeck, said that the CI MS ensures that organizations work with “professionalism”.

“At Caritas Internationalis, it was decided that it would be good to work on our professionalism even as we provide services in our communities,” Karam said.

He added, “We have our mission to serve but the service has to be done in a professional way. Those standards have been included in our work in order to help all the member organizations to improve their management and the services they are providing.”

Annamária said that all organizations are assessed every four years to find out whether or not they are compliant with the CI MS. 

Representatives from a number of organizations that have fulfilled minimum requirements of the CI standards also participated in the workshop in Nairobi to learn how to improve.


Asked why CI combined various Caritas entities in Africa and MONA for the training workshop, Annamária  said, “In the past, we used to hold huge global events which benefited only the few that managed to come. Today, we try to combine organizations that have similar challenges and attract all our members.”

“Organizations that are here from the Middle East are of similar size to those in Africa. The two regions also tend to share experiences. A few months back, we combined Asia, Oceania and a section of the Middle East where we had observed near-similar challenges,” the CI Official said.

Meanwhile, the Secretary General of Caritas Africa, Lucy Esipila, lauded the collaborative workshop, saying, “It was really important for us to do this with Caritas MONA which covers northern Africa, Djibouti and Somalia.”

“It was amazing to see the region-to-region cooperation. After this, we wish to see more strengthened relationships between Caritas Africa and Caritas MONA because we share a lot of experiences,” Ms. Esipila told ACI Africa in an interview.

The Kenyan official said that she is still new in her role on the continent, adding that she had found the training workshop helpful.

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“This meeting targeted new Directors such as myself as well as new coordinators from various Caritas organizations in Africa and in the Middle East,” she said, and added, “As a new regional coordinator, I have learned a lot and I hope I can work together with our members as we get assessed as a region.”

She said that participants in the training had been taken through a process of the history of the CI MS, how to assess themselves internally, and how to make decisions based on how they score in the assessments. 

“We have learnt that evidence of compliance to each particular standard must be produced. For instance, most Caritas organizations are under the Episcopal Conferences. Such organizations must demonstrate that Bishops recognize them,” Ms. Esipila said.

Following the November 20-23 workshop, participants are expected to initiate self-assessment exercises in their organizations.

They will then share their results with CI where they will be assessed externally, Annamária, the Program Manager of CI MS said, and added, “We hope that through this exercise, we’ll continue to reduce the number of organizations that are not already compliant with our international standards.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.