Comic Relief offers new fund for African charities

Common Ground Initiative seeks applications for health, education and employment projects

Comic Relief has opened a £20m fund for small African development charities today.

The Common Ground Initiative will support health, education and employment projects that bring sustainable change to the poorest parts of Africa.

Organisations can apply for a maximum of £1m over five years, but most awards are expected to be for no more than £200,000 over three years.

The Department for International Development is providing £18m of funding; Comic Relief is funding the other £2m.

Douglas Alexander, the international development secretary, said the initiative would "provide much-needed resources to help small and diaspora organisations put fresh ideas into action".

To be eligible, an organisation must have an annual turnover of less than £1m and most of their trustees must be of African heritage.

Grants will be issued for projects, research and organisational development.

Comic Relief will also commission a study to understand the role played by UK diaspora groups in development.

A Comic Relief spokeswoman said: "We will prioritise applications for work that aim to use new and creative approaches and ways of working, build on existing learning and invest in tracking changes, have potential to be scaled up and take an integrated approach.

"We are unwilling to support work that is the primary responsibility of government - building and resourcing schools, and paying salaries and other related costs for key workers such as health workers and teachers."

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