The Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) performs the following tasks:
• Provides technical assistance within the framework of civil protection.
• Provides technical assistance on behalf of the Federal Government.
• Provides technical assistance within the framework of disaster control, public emergencies, and large-scale accidents at the request of the authorities in charge of hazard control, in particular in the field of recovery and repair.
It is one of the most modern relief organizations worldwide and participates in the global intermeshing of all relief organizations as an internationally active operational organization. Since its establishment in 1950, THW has grown into an essential part of Germany’s defense against all sorts of dangers. Today, due to its reputation as a reliable and competent partner, THW is assigned a sustaining role in civil protection by the United Nations as well as by the European Union. As operational division within the area of accountability of the Ministry of Interior, THW fulfills its role both domestically and worldwide. As such, the Federal Agency for Technical Relief can look back on its participation in thousands of missions: these include the rehabilitation assistance in Afghanistan on behalf of the German government, medium-term reconstruction efforts after the 2004 Indian Ocean seaquake, general support of the United Nations as well as search and rescue missions after different earthquakes and tsunamis.
Ninety-nine percent of THW’s 80.000 members are volunteers. When it comes to establishing the credentials for a modern operational organization, the qualification of its experts is of primary importance. THW therefore participates actively in a domestic and international information exchange network of requesters and cooperation partners. THW also takes on the challenge of keeping up with the vast and constant technological advancements. It aims at assembling its units to meet current civil protection needs based on state of the art knowledge.
Due to its extensive experience, THW fulfills high quality standards, matching those of the UN’s International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG). THW has already had ample opportunities to prove its tactical merit and conceptual conclusiveness, for example during severe earthquakes in Iran, Turkey, India and Nepal. The Federal Agency for Technical Relief has adhered to this process in the past years, since the conceivable disaster scenarios have changed. Severe natural calamities no longer occur once a millennium, the threats posed by international terrorism have increased as well as managing the aftermath of civil wars. All of the previously mentioned scenarios require a substantial joint effort by all states actively involved in global civil protection endeavors.
For the past several years THW has been participating in a variety of national and EU research projects. In 2014 a research and innovation management task force was established as part of the General Affairs Division. In 2015 it expanded to an independent Staff Unit under the supervision of the Director of Operations. THW currently participates in the following nationally funded projects: PRAKOS, REBEKA, RAWIS and BERKoS. It furthermore is the consortium leader of the projects DAREnet as well as SaySo and is involved as a partner in the project FireIn – all funded by the EU Commission.