In-Country Micro Projects Scheme (icmps) Guidelines

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ICMPS Guidelines 2012

In-Country Micro Projects Scheme



1. Irish Aid Support for Civil Society 2

2. Purpose and Objectives of ICMPS 3

3. Eligibility 4

4. Key Principles of ICMPS 5

5. Application and Approval Process 7

5.1 Application Form 7

5.2 Size and Duration of Grant 8

5.3 Approval Process 8

6. Accountability: Monitoring, Reporting & Evaluation Requirements 9

6.1 Grant Management Principles 9

6.2 Annual Narrative & Financial Report 10

6.3 Monitoring, Evaluation and Audit 11

6.4 Fraud 11

7. Freedom of Information 12

1. Irish Aid Support for Civil Society

Irish Aid has a long history of supporting Irish civil society organisations working in the developing world to fight poverty, achieve sustainable development, promote human rights and contribute to good governance. Irish Aid is committed to continuing this support in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in the protection and promotion of human rights.

Irish Aid’s support to civil society is informed by Ireland’s Policy for International Development, One World, One Future, the associated One World, One Future Framework for Action and the Irish Aid Civil Society Policy. Irish Aid aims to support:
1. An enabling environment for civil society to organise and engage with government and its own broader constituencies;

2. The role of civil society in (i) promoting participation and good governance, (ii) ensuring pro-poor service delivery and pro-poor growth, and (iii) building a constituency for development, human rights and social justice.

These guidelines are intended to assist Local Non-Governmental Organisations apply for grants under the In Country Micro Project Scheme (ICMPS) and to provide information on the purpose and objectives of the scheme, organisational eligibility criteria, key principles on which the scheme is based, information on period of funding, size of grants and information on the application process, reporting requirements and monitoring and evaluation.

2. Purpose and Objectives of ICMPS

The ICMPS currently provides delegated sanction to a number of Embassies and Consulates to directly support local non-governmental organisations in small-scale development projects. The scheme operates in developing countries where Ireland has diplomatic accreditation, but where there is no Bilateral Irish Aid programme. It supports projects that address the root causes of poverty and injustice in a way that is strategic and cost effective, enhances local capacity and ownership, and is consistent with other programmes of work funded by Irish Aid in the countries concerned.

For the purpose of this scheme, the local non-governmental organisation is defined as: ‘Indigenous, locally managed, not for profit organisations that are independent of the state and are formed voluntarily by members of society to address the root causes of poverty and injustice in their respective communities’.
The relevant Embassies and Consulates are responsible for the implementation of the scheme and are required to work within the framework of the current guidelines and an agreed three-year strategy.
The three year strategy will reflect:

  • Objectives of the Irish Government, in particular Irish Aid policy

  • The strategic priorities of the respective country based on a sound context analysis

  • The particular comparative advantages of local non-governmental organisations working in the respective country.

  • A geographical focus that is poverty oriented while taking into account the capacity of the Embassy or Consulate to ensure that an appropriate level of monitoring is possible.

There are seven objectives that the In Country Micro Project Scheme seeks to promote which coincide with the role of civil society and reflect the commitments of the Sustainable Development Goals. The scheme will support interventions that contribute to:

        1. Strengthening the voice of local communities to influence policy decisions that impact upon them and implementation at local and national levels.

        2. The prevention of hunger, and the improvement of livelihood security.

        3. Improved access to essential services, such as education, health care and programmes of HIV prevention, care and support.

        4. Improved access and control of resources for marginalised communities.

        5. The promotion and realisation of human rights.

        6. The promotion of women’s empowerment and gender equality, including initiatives to tackle gender based violence and women trafficking.

  1. The promotion of environmental sustainability and in particular, initiatives that combat climate change.

In applying for support under ICMPS, applicants should state what they are trying to do and how they intend to do it. Each applicant should explain how its intervention will make a particular contribution to at least one of the above objectives. However, it is not necessary that an intervention contribute to all objectives

3. Eligibility

The criteria for eligible applicants to apply for the ICMPS are set out below. Applicants that do not meet these eligibility criteria may not be considered for funding.

Organisational Status: Applicants must be an indigenous, locally managed, non-governmental organisation which must be one of the following0:

  1. Locally Registered NGO; registered as a trust or society with relevant authority to receive funds from a foreign source.

  2. Community Based Organisation; registered as a trust or society with relevant authority to receive funds from a foreign source.

  3. Non Profit Company or Corporate Foundation; with relevant authority to receive funds from a foreign source.

  4. Faith Based Organisations involved in development work and registered as a religious trust or charitable trust or society with relevant authority to receive funds from a foreign source. Where developmental and religious work is convergent (e.g. schools/training run by faith based organisations) enforcement of non-discrimination policies should be documented in the application.

  5. Defence Forces

  6. Co-operative

  7. Farmer Association

  8. Trade Union

Governance: Applicants must have a formal decision making-structure which takes legal responsibility for the administration and use of ICMPS funds.
Financial Management/Accounts: Applicants must submit Annual Accounts certified by a chartered accountant, comprising at a minimum the Balance Sheet, the Income and Expenditure Statement, Cash Flow Statement for the two financial years prior to application0. If the applicant organisation has an annual income of above €100,000, these accounts must be externally and independently audited. Where it is legally mandatory by in-country legal requirements that all NGOs submit externally audited accounts then irrespective of the annual income amount, organisations must provide these to the Embassy. The Accounts must be submitted with the ICMPS Application Form.
Focus of Work: The areas of intervention by the applicant organisation must meet the OECD DAC definition of Official Development Assistance and take place in a country classified as eligible for assistance. See for details.
Record of Compliance: Applicants, previously in receipt of ICMPS funds, must have a record of compliance in terms of the administration of such funds. Applicants which have a record of non-compliance with the terms of previous ICMPS contracts may not be considered for funding.
Funding Status: Applications cannot be accepted from an organisation which is currently in receipt of an ICMPS grant i.e. if the applicant is already receiving payments for a project under an existing contract.
Exclusions from funding: The following activities will NOT be eligible for funding support under the ICMPS:

  • Interventions that are primarily welfare support(s) and that are clearly not sustainable without external support

  • Individual or family support.

  • Major infrastructural schemes for e.g. dams, roads, hospitals (but is not limited to this list).

  • Educational scholarships including study or research fellowships.

  • Projects that involve evangelisation for the proselytising of religious beliefs.

  • Retrospective Expenditure (i.e. cost incurred prior to the date of submission of the application)

  • International Travel.

  • Emergency projects that are in response to natural or human disasters.

4. Key Principles of ICMPS

The approaches and strategies set out below follow good practice and provide a standard which applicants should seek to achieve.

Relevance and Poverty Focus: Projects will be assessed in terms of their relevance to local needs and priorities taking account of the contribution of other development actors in the sector/community, coherence with government policy and with Irish Aid policy, the ICMPS objectives, as well as the extent to which they target the poor and contribute to addressing the root causes of poverty & injustice in their relevant communities.
Effectiveness and Efficiency: Projects will be assessed in terms of (a) their potential effectiveness in achieving the overall objectives set out in the application form and delivering tangible benefits to the specified target group and; (b) their potential efficiency in terms of the proposed approach and mechanisms, including planning, training, monitoring and evaluation systems, risk assessment, and the actual costs being incurred in implementation
Partnership: Irish Aid places value on strong and sustained partnership with local civil society organisations/partners and, where possible, strong close working relationships with government & local authorities is encouraged where both parties are involved in designing and managing a particular intervention or set of interventions funded under ICMPS. In the context of collaboration, it is recommended that there be a written Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the organisation, directly funded by Irish Aid, and its implementing partner(s). This should provide a clear management framework to ensure that all partners are aware of their respective roles and responsibilities.
Sustainability: Projects assisted under the scheme should be capable of being sustained after funding has ended. Sustainability refers to the financial, technical and management capacity of the organisation to continue the project/intervention. Prospects for sustainability are enhanced by local ownership and participation, linkages with and support from local or national government, cooperation with other civil society groups and the capacity of the organisation or government to provide for recurrent costs and depreciation during and after the period of the grant.
Participation: Participation refers to the right of women and men, boys and girls, to participate in their own development and in the decisions that affect their lives. Applicants should ensure that full consultation has taken place with partner communities on the design and implementation of the intervention. There should be structures in place at the local level to facilitate decision making and to ensure that the intervention is shaped in a way that meets the needs of the community on an ongoing basis.
Child Protection: All organisations which have contact with young children and vulnerable adults must have a child protection policy in place setting out the procedures to be followed and safeguards in place.
Cross-cutting issues: Cross-cutting issues include gender equality, governance, environmental sustainability and HIV and AIDS. While it might be possible to address all four cross cutting issues as actions within every project, during the project design process due consideration should be given to the projects potential impact or contribution to advancing the four cross cutting areas. The application document should outline how the cross cutting issues were considered during the initial project design process and the outcome of these considerations.
Gender Equality: Gender Equality refers to equality between women and men in all spheres, both public and private. Gender equality means equal access to and control of resources and benefits, equal participation in political decision-making and equality under the law for women and men. Applicants should identify and understand the situation of women and their unequal status when planning interventions and develop strategies to address inequality. One of these strategies may address gender inequality, through the intervention, otherwise known as mainstreaming gender.
Human Rights/Good Governance: Human rights and good governance includes the promotion and protection of human rights, strengthening democratic systems of government, making governments more accountable, improving government service delivery and transparency, strengthening the rule of law and improving access to information. Good governance is about helping to create the conditions where women and men are empowered to participate freely in their political, social and economic development and, in so doing, to achieve their potential.
HIV and AIDS: Irish Aid endorses the importance of mainstreaming HIV & AIDS through development interventions and developing specific strategies in community-based care, prevention programmes, capacity building, networking and advocacy. There should be explicit effort to ensure that HIV and AIDS is addressed adequately in the situation analysis and the project design.
Environment: It is important to take the environment into account in project planning and design so that it’s contribution in providing food (crops, livestock), goods (e.g. construction materials, medicines), the basis of livelihoods (e.g. fishing, farming, forestry) and maintaining good health (clean air and water) is enhanced rather than undermined.

5. Application and Approval Process

In some cases the prospective applicant organisation may initially be asked to prepare a Concept Note0. This will include an introductory profile of the organisation, a brief description of the proposed project (2-3 pages) and an outline budget. Once the Concept Note has been reviewed and found competitive, the Embassy/Consulate will inform the organisation if they can proceed with the application.

5.1 Application Form

Applications must be submitted on the official ICMPS Application Form available from the relevant Embassy/Consulate. Additional relevant supporting documents in the form of Annexes can also be submitted with the application form inclusive of photographs, site maps, Memoranda of Understanding with partner(s) etc.

Application forms should be in 12 point font and presented in electronic format, where possible. One original hard copy, signed by the legal representative of the organisation must be sent to the relevant Embassy or Consulate. Unsigned applications will be returned.
Note: Not all of the questions asked or the information sought in the form will apply to every proposal and where the information sought is not applicable, in this case applicants should enter N/A (non-applicable).

5.2 Size and Duration of Grant

Grants approved under the scheme can be for;

  • a once-off grant for a short term project i.e. 1 Year

  • multi-year grant up to a maximum of 3 Years

Grants for multi-year projects will be provided on a phased basis, with one disbursement per year, subject to satisfactory receipt of an annual narrative report, clear evidence of progress as per Section 6 and subject to the availability of funds.

The maximum grant available will be €26,000 per project per year, subject to a maximum of €78,000 per project over three years.
ICMPS grants will only cover a maximum of 70% of the Total Cost of a Project: i.e. no more than 70% of the total project costs can be requested; a minimum of 30% of the total project costs must be covered by the applicant organisation.
In year 1, the project budget covered by the applicant organisation must already be either available or committed to the organisations. For Years 2 & 3 (if applicable), applicants must guarantee that these funds will be made available. Applicants will also be expected to specify whether this will be cash contribution, in-kind donations or a combination of cash/in kind contributions or a joint contribution of NGO and the local community or of the NGO and other donor agency as applicable.

5.3 Approval Process

The Embassy/Consulate will undertake a formal appraisal of the application. Applicants will be notified by the relevant Embassy/Consulate when the project application has been appraised and if it has been successful.

The Embassy/Consulate may revert to organisations to seek clarification on the application form and to request further documents as required. Organisations are required to cooperate fully with such clarifications requests as necessary. Appraisal visits to the site, as part of appraisal process, may be undertaken by the Embassy/Consulate. Periodical monitoring visits during the course of the project are an important part of Irish Aid’s monitoring strategy.
The appraisal process may involve a joint appraisal of ICMPS applications with the relevant

Ministry of the local government as applicable by in-country legal requirements. In such cases, the organisation will be notified about this process and the decision to fund will take into account ‘no objections’ received from the relevant department of the local government.

Successful applicants receiving ICMPS support are required to acknowledge Irish Aid funding in a clear manner in annual reports, websites and on other relevant publications or products, and to ensure that audited accounts explicitly include reference to the contribution from Irish Aid or the Embassy of Ireland.

6. Accountability: Monitoring, Reporting & Evaluation Requirements

Recipients of funding under the ICMPS are entrusted with Irish public funds, to be spent strictly for the purposes presented in the funding proposal and as per the terms of the contract. Failure to comply with this obligation will render the recipient liable to reimburse the full amount of the grant.

6.1 Grant Management Principles

Organisations should be aware of the requirements of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform circular (13/2014) relating to the Management of and Accountability of Grants.

Four principles apply to organisations which are in receipt of grant funding from any Irish Government Department: 1. Clarity, 2. Governance, 3. Value for Money, and 4. Fairness.


  • Understand the purpose and conditions of funding and the outputs required

  • Apply funding only for the business purposes for which they were provided

  • Apply for funding drawdown only when required for business purposes

  • Seek clarification from the grantor where necessary – on the use of funds, governance and accountability arrangements.


Ensure appropriate governance arrangements are in place for:

  • Oversight and administration of funding

  • Control and safeguarding of funds from misuse, misappropriation and fraud accounting records which can provide, at any time, reliable financial information on the purpose, application and balance remaining of the public funding

  • Accounting for the amount and source of the funding, its application and outputs/outcomes.

Value for Money

Be in a position to provide evidence on:

  • Effective use of funds

  • Value achieved in the application of funds

  • Avoidance of waste and extravagance.


  • Manage public funds with the highest degree of honesty and integrity

  • Act in a manner which complies with relevant laws and obligations (e.g. tax, minimum wage, etc.)

  • Procure goods and services in a fair and transparent manner

  • Act fairly, responsibly and openly in dealings with the Department

6.2 Annual Narrative & Financial Report

Organisations in receipt of grants are responsible for their own project implementation and for monitoring the project throughout the course of the funding. During the implementation process, organisations should consult the Embassy/Consulate when context changes or newly identified risks indicate the necessity of changing one or more elements of the project, before they are undertaken.

Organisations must report on results achieved at the end of the project (or annually if the project is for multi-year funding). The report should state clearly where outcomes did not result as planned and explain why.
Organisations in receipt of a once off grant must submit a Final Narrative and Financial Report no later than three months after the end of the contract period i.e. from the date of the contract was signed. Organisations should refer to the ICMPS Guidelines on Monitoring & Evaluation.
Organisations in receipt of a multi-year grant must submit an Annual Narrative and Financial Report for each year of the project, no later than three months after the end of each project year and a Final Narrative and Financial Report no later than three months after the end of the contract period – i.e. from the date the contract was signed and according to the implementation schedule. Organisations should refer to the ICMPS Guidelines on Monitoring & Evaluation.
Narrative Reports should be in 12 point font and presented in electronic format, where possible. They should also be presented in hard copy to the relevant Embassy/Consulate.
The Annual and Final Reports should be accompanied by the following;

  • A financial statement jointly signed by the head of the organisation and a chartered accountant concerning the complete utilisation of the grant: accompanied with the original or copies of signed receipts/vouchers for expenditure relevant to the Irish Aid funds provided.0

  • A brief narrative account of how the local contribution/other donor contributions were realised.

  • The most recent Annual Report of the organisation, if produced by the organisation.

  • Photos of furniture or equipment purchased or buildings constructed under the project, if it is a capital intensive project.

  • Copies of relevant training attendance lists, if it is a training intensive project.

The Embassy/Consulate may revert to organisations to seek clarification on the narrative or financial reports and to request further documents as required. Organisations are required to cooperate fully with such clarifications requests as necessary.

6.3 Monitoring, Evaluation and Audit

Applicants must make clear in the application form the organisation’s internal monitoring and evaluation activities during the course of the project.

During the implementation process, organisations should consult the Embassy/Consulate when context changes or newly identified risks indicate the necessity of changing one or more elements of the project such as changes to project activities or budget, before they are undertaken.
All recipients of ICMPS grants are also required to;

  • Cooperate fully with any or external evaluations/audits which may be commissioned by Irish Aid. The results of independent external evaluations undertaken by the organisation, with any policy implications/conclusions, should be shared with Irish Aid

  • Respond in a timely manner to ad-hoc requests, from the relevant Embassy or Irish Aid, for information or updates regarding project progress, should they arise. However, it is expected that such requests will be in exceptional circumstances and that most information will be sought from the annual reports

  • Immediately communicate any suspicions of fraudulent activities and keep the Embassy/Mission informed of any ongoing investigations and outcomes.

In each country participating in the ICMPS, Irish Aid will also internally monitor, audit and evaluate on an annual basis, a selected number of projects funded under the scheme. Applicants are required to fully co-operate with Irish Aid in carrying out evaluations and audits and to provide access to all relevant documents as requested.

6.4 Fraud

Irish Aid takes the issue of fraud very seriously. Organisations in receipt of Irish Aid funding are responsible for minimising the incidence of fraud, having adequate systems that identify possible incidences, investigating and identifying the possible loss and managing the follow up action. Non-reporting of fraud or failure to immediately report fraud, will be considered a major compliance issue.
In the event that there is any suspected fraud within the organisation, regardless of whether or not it involves the Irish Aid grant, the Embassy should be informed immediately in writing and kept up to date on developments. The initial report should describe:

  • Details of the (alleged) fraud

  • An estimate of the total funds and where applicable, the Irish Aid funds concerned

  • The proposed follow-up actions, including plans for a forensic audit if this is deemed appropriate.

  • Irish Aid should then be informed when the fraud is fully investigated and a final report should be submitted to Irish Aid on the incident. The organisation will be informed when Irish Aid deems the case closed and is satisfied on the accountability of the Irish Aid grant overall.

7. Freedom of Information

Documents, including application forms and annexes, any report submitted to Irish Aid and any other written communication with Irish Aid, automatically become records of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and as such, are subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2014.

0Organisations should provide details of the appropriate registration numbers in the ICMPS Application Form.

0 The organisation’s own financial year can be used here.

0 The Embassy/Consulate will indicate to the organisation if a Concept Note is required.

0 If receipts/vouchers cannot be provided, the reasons for this must be explained in the end of year report.

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