Our history

    Cordaid was established in 2000 when a number of Dutch relief organizations joined forces.

    Some of these, such as Cordaid Mensen in Nood (literally: people in need), had been set up initially in response to the stream of European refugees into the Netherlands during the First World War which is why we are marking our first centenary in 2014.

    In 1925, Memisa, another member of the Cordaid group, was founded and has become a leader in the field of healthcare in developing countries.

    In the 1930s, Cordaid was concerned with the plight of the Great Depression victims. After World War II, however, its focus shifted further south resulting in a new kind of solidarity between countries in an area in which Cordaid was at the forefront: development aid.


    The Dutch government also recognized the importance of development aid and introduced so-called ‘co-financing’, which is financing provided by the government to civil-society organizations intended for development aid. This resulted in the establishment of Cebemo in 1961, which is a Roman Catholic foundation that executed the Dutch parliament’s decision to finance the work of missionaries as a special form of assistance to developing countries.

    Catholic identity

    During a century of working on the world’s worst catastrophes and calamities, ranging from helping the victims of dictatorships and (civil) wars to famine relief and support following natural disasters, that early commitment to protecting and offering aid to vulnerable people has remained the same. And it continues to be driven by a Catholic identity and its associated values; new employees at Cordaid still learn about those values – dignity, solidarity and stewardship – during their first week.

    Our mission today

    Our mission is just as relevant in the 21st century. Cordaid today still provides help and support wherever poverty, exclusion, injustice and violence strike. More than 1.2 billion people live in extreme poverty and social inequality. Our past experience helps us to focus on those areas of international development that are most urgent and difficult: fragile contexts and conflict areas.