Measuring the Effectiveness of Humanitarian Capacity Building through Distance Learning

By Dr. Edith Favoreu- CERAH

Dr. Edith Favoreu from CERAH presenting at HPC Africa 2015.
Dr. Edith Favoreu presenting at HPC Africa 2015

Distance learning, a mode of delivering education and instruction used in the mainstream academia is also making headway in the humanitarian sector. The Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action (CERAH) has piloted various courses through distance learning specifically adapted to the needs of humanitarian professionals. Individuals looking to build their skills in the sector, face various challenges in accessing these courses from institutions based in Europe due to financial and visa restrictions. It is the recognition of these challenges among other factors that led CERAH to devise the Humanitarian Distance Learning (HDL) programmes to increase access to training particularly for national staff as well as to allow the students to study from their own context.

CERAH enhances the capacity of individual and institutional humanitarian actors to devise and implement effective humanitarian responses. One of the unique strengths that this programme boasts is the high caliber of participants who start the course after a rigorous application and vetting process. This ensures that the course is offered to individuals who can make an impact within their organizations and within the broader humanitarian space. These HDL programmes also urge participants; mainly middle-level managers, to be creative in designing collaborative concepts that reflect on their individual practice.

The HDL started with a pilot phase (2013-2015) to conceptualize what it would entail, especially since it was anticipated that participants would be drawn from different contexts and work situations. The pilot also gave the founders an opportunity to gain experience and use the lessons learned in subsequent development which will lead to the overall implementation from 2015 onwards. The pilot phase included an exploration of distance learning courses offered at the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of Geneva. The development of the course was a collaborative effort bringing together experts from various fields.

Findings from the pilot phase of the project revealed that individual factors such as learning habits, openness to change and organization factors such as opportunity to apply knowledge gained and space given by hierarchy; affect the extent to which course participants contextualize learning to humanitarian action. Results also revealed that integrating the learning process in everyday professional practice was pivotal in enhancing the capacity of humanitarian actors to make an impact within their work situation. One suggestion of doing this is allowing the participants to reflect on their current practice and devise ways of improving it as they learn. Participants of the first course reported that because of the training, they were strengthened in their ability to design and adapt humanitarian strategies and projects in line with their specific context.

Although preliminary results indicate the effectiveness of the HDL, there are still a number of areas for CERAH to explore including how to determine which factors are measurable and how to interpret the changes reported by participants from an individual perspective as well as from an organizational perspective.

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Emergency Preparedness and Response Course

By Chris Lane- Humanitarian Leadership Academy & Mary Otieno- Kenya Institute of Management

The Humanitarian Leadership Academy and the Kenya Institute of Management (KIM) joined forces in 2014 to offer a Certification Program in Emergency Preparedness and Response. The program is meant to build nationwide capacity for faster response to address the increasing number of disasters and emergencies in the region. It will also equip participants with knowledge and skills for a more coordinated emergence and disaster response.

At the end of the course, participants should be able to:

  • Explain key concepts in relation to emergency preparedness and response
  • Analyze emergency risk and design response plans
  • Demonstrate leadership in an emergency situation and
  • Raise awareness of emergency preparedness and response

The course is targeted to all humanitarian workers including Health and Safety teams, Security Managers, Coordinating teams, Branch Managers, Station Managers, School Heads, County Directors/Managers and Department Heads.

The program will be administered by trained facilitators who are either management experts or humanitarian specialists. Mode of delivery will include face to face class lectures, seminars, evaluations and simulations.

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Humanitarian Principles: The Urban Refugees’ Education Dilemma in Kenya

By Dr. Loise Gichuhi- The University of Nairobi

Over the past years, there has been an evidenced phenomenon of refugees increasingly moving to urban areas. According to UNHCR statistics, only one third of 10.5 million refugees in the world now live in camps. More than half of the refugees UNHCR serves now live in urban areas, dispensing the myth that the refugee situation is only synonymous with Dadaab and Kakuma.

The discussion was based on a qualitative case study  research project conducted at eight primary schools, four in Nairobi and four in Kakuma refugee camp, “Quality Education for Refugees in Kenya: Nairobi and Kakuma (2014).

Dr. Loise Gichuhi at HPC Africa 2015
                  Dr. Loise Gichuhi at HPC Africa 2015

The key findings were centered on the issues of language, school curriculum, materials and resources, at risk populations, teaching conditions and practices, mobility ad migration and community schools. Students from the camps enter schools speaking their mother tongue while the current Kenyan education policy demands that schools teach in either Kiswahili or English. This poses a challenge to students as they struggle to learn Kiswahili, which is examined at the end of primary school education. However, it was also noted that more and more refugee children want and are able to learn English because of the policy.

Other challenges faced by students include inadequate number of text books, overcrowding in schools, cultural barriers, overage students, teacher absenteeism among others. Community schools grapple with the issue of insufficient funding as they rely on community support. This in turn affects personnel, infrastructure and availability of learning materials.

Humanitarian principles provide the foundations for humanitarian action. Many humanitarian actors’ activities are guided by the four humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality impartiality and independence.

In applying these principles, there is a need to find a way to integrate the refugees into our own education system. Questions that should be raised include: What is the role of government in catering for refugees’ needs within the education system? Who are the key players in managing refugees and what is their role in advising refugee curriculum mechanisms?

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Academic and NGO Partnerships: Case Studies from Humanitarian Capacity Building

By Natascha Dekkers & Olivia Scaramuzza- Save the Children UK

The Humanitarian Capacity Building team at Save the Children UK has partnered with various academic institutions to work towards professionalizing the humanitarian sector. These partnerships differ in complexity and intensity and can be placed on the following continuum:

In this model, Cooperation stands for a limited engagement where each partner fulfills a particular task; it could be seen as a contractual relationship. The team partners  with Pearsons Assured, the world’s largest education company, to ensure quality across the programmes they deliver. Pearsons Assured  review their processes and provide recommendations which the team need to follow to be quality assured.

Coordinating partners fulfill their respective roles independently but they actively align what they do to reach a common goal. The team’s partnerships with Oxford Brookes University and with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) fits within this model. Oxford Brookes University accredits their Humanitarian Operations Programme (HOP) and supports the programme through a student feedback mechanism and by providing input on assessments. LSTM ensured the development of a robust assessment framework for their Humanitarian Health & Nutrition Diplomas and verified the programme specifications at the outset.

The Humanitarian Capacity Building team have identified Collaboration as the highest level of engagement; the partnership is about mutual decision making. It could be illustrated by the innovative academic-humanitarian partnership between the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the Child Protection Working Group (CPWG) which resulted in the design, the development and the delivery of the Child Protection in Emergencies Post Graduate Diploma. The CPWG provides field experience and practitioner expertise and UKZN provides academic input and enables the accreditation of students.

The benefits of these partnerships are to professionalize and raise the profiles of their learning programmes, increase motivation of the participants and ensure quality. They realise it is neither the only approach towards professionalization of the humanitarian sector nor is it exclusively what they do. There is no clear answer as to what professionalization of the sector is so the presenters then engaged the audience to challenge the following deliberately controversial statements:

  • Partnering with European or North American universities just reinforces elitist education. It makes professional development inaccessible to most humanitarians.
  • If you allow people to gain professional qualifications, they will just get promoted into roles that are away from frontline humanitarian work.

The audience touched upon various issues linked with these statements like the important role of academia in providing research to inform humanitarian action; the need for Southern universities to engage and be engaged in humanitarian partnerships; the need to challenge existing fee models and the lack of clear humanitarian career paths.

The Humanitarian Capacity Building team are pursuing different aspects of the professionalization agenda. The key message of the presentation was that we should all keep on learning and sharing and building on each other’s experiences.

The Quadra Helix Approach to Partnerships

By Anne Gatende- Mount Kenya University/ I Choose Life

Triple Helix VS Quadra Helix Partnership Models of Engagement

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Local Capacity Building in the Context of Humanitarian Crisis: Lessons, Tools & Partnership Models

By Chris Proulx- LINGOs

Working in crisis zones involves coordination challenges, uncertainty, tension and both physical and mental stress. Syria is an example of such a fragile working environment. With the Syrian conflict entering its fifth year, more than 12 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance while almost eight million people have been forced to leave their homes with families being forced to share crowded rooms and camp in abandoned buildings for shelter in foreign countries. An estimated 4.8 million people inside Syrians are in hard to reach places with 212,000 trapped in besieged areas.

It is challenging to conduct coordination activities and capacity building initiatives in such a fragile and complex operating environment . Training sessions are often poorly attended owing to insecurity, border closures, interrupted travel schedules and frequent staff turnover. For safety reasons, many of the NGOs responding to the crisis are located in border towns in Turkey, Jordan and Egypt with Syrian national staff crossing the border regularly to deliver aid and manage rebuilding programs.  As a result, there is reduced coordination between NGOs as representatives are continually traveling between Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon coordinating multi-country response.

LINGOs  provided a solution that incorporates an understanding of the latest proven theories of how adults learn new skills and the best modalities for that learning. This is because formal learning does not always equate classroom learning; experience is important. These include the role of formal vs. informal learning, the role of managers and mentors, and the role of technology. With an understanding of the need to contextualize the framework based in challenging environments, constrained resources, difficulty in physically and virtually connections, LINGOs suggests a framework that leverages expertise and resources from NGOs and private sector partners. The framework uses specific tools deployed to improve skills and improve project communications. The models include:

  • eLearning Resources
  • Social Networks and Communities
  • Virtual On-Line Classrooms
  • Face-to-Face Project Management Training
  • Virtual On-Line Project Management Training
  • Training of Trainers
  • Resource sharing
  • Credentials

Based on the understanding of the Syrian context and with the knowledge of tools available, LINGOs hope to work together with key stakeholders in applying the Syrian lessons to several crisis situations in East Africa.

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Devolution and Refugee Affairs

By Gemma Davies- ReDSS

The presentation was based on a research conducted by ReDDS and Samuel Hall Consulting titled Devolution in Kenya: Opportunity for Transitional Solutions for Refugees? The research provided a two-part deliverable: Analyzing the impact of devolution on refugee affairs and a manual on devolution architecture and implications.

ReDSS presentation at HPC Africa 2015
              ReDSS presentation at HPC Africa 2015

National actors did not express a common voice on refugee issues, which was viewed as an opportunity which could open possibilities to engage in dialogue. The Ministry of Devolution and Planning supports stronger county government involvement on refugee affairs, especially on issues of land, service delivery and conflict mitigation. The Department of Refugee Affairs (DRA) in Nairobi expressed concern about competition in refugee management and that local governments may not have the capacity in regards to service provision for refugee communities. UNHCR Kenya’s management expressed a middle ground on the matter.

According to the research, national stakeholders support the idea of formalizing the economic inputs of refugees to improve local economies. There is a lot of unrecognized and untapped potential in a camp like Daadab and refugees can help in building infrastructure and in developing towns. The Ministry of Interior & Co-ordination of National Development however expressed resistance to the idea, citing issues to do with the country’s security.

Though county activities appear to be limited on refugee matters, County Government representatives recognize that refugees provide an economic potential for counties and can help by opening the counties to other markets, diversifying the economy, transitioning host communities from pastoralism to alternative livelihoods, and transferring skills to the host economy.

Counties can engage on refugee affairs through resource allocation, devolved aspects of refugee management: integrated service delivery and business permits. This is already happening in Turkana where shares of the county budget benefit both host and refugee communities.

Some of the challenges cited included: Lack of capacity of county government’s knowledge and power over refugee affairs and understanding of the contributions refugees make to economic development are constraints that have the potential to be turned into opportunities; Budgets are allocated to host communities alone, while refugees don’t have formal access to employment – making the discourse on economic empowerment weak.

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Working with the private sector through cash-based interventions

By Ernesto González- World Food Programme

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger and provides food assistance through the delivery of in-kind food, cash-based transfers, or a combination of the two. Cash based transfers in the Regional office for East and Central Africa (RBN) account for up to 67% of financial assistance to beneficiaries.

WFP’s Corporate Partnership Strategy (2014-2017) recognizes that no single organization can address today’s complex food and nutrition security challenges. Partnerships are important now more than ever. In Rwanda, cash transfer was launched in January 2014 in Gihembe camp and reached 14,000 beneficiaries in 3,200 households. A transfer of RWF 6,300 (USD 8.6) per person per month was made via mVISA.  mVISA is a bank account in the form of a virtual wallet linked to a mobile phone number and enables beneficiaries to withdraw money and make direct purchases.

The partnership with VISA represents only one of the many partnerships that WFP has with the private sector. Lessons learnt from private sector partnerships include the need for constant innovation, greater transparency and accountability and making things easier and more cost efficient.

Innovation is a two-way street and stakeholders need to ensure that their objectives are in alignment with national priorities. Smart partnerships lead to smarter interventions.

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Youth Employment Migration Nexus

By Herve Nicolle- Samuel Hall Consulting

Before any youth-specific programming can commence, it is critical to understand the current employment and income generation prospects for youth and the weight of livelihood opportunities on migration patterns of youth in Somaliland and Puntland. In this context, Samuel Hall was commissioned by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in November 2014 to conduct a Research on “Youth, Employment and Migration in Puntland and Somaliland” to inform IOM’s youth-specific programming in Somaliland and Puntland’s urban centers.

The specific objectives of the research were to:

  • Map economic drivers of youth migration in Somaliland and Puntland
  • Map youth livelihood opportunities
  • Present practical interventions to support the youth and local markets – unlocking solutions for youth employment in Somaliland and Puntland

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Social Enterprise and Humanitarian Partnerships: An opportunity for youth entrepreneurship, poverty reduction and market creation

By Kate Montgomery- d.light design

D.light’s mission is to improve the lives of people worldwide through affordable and reliable energy. With world class solar lighting products and the largest distribution system in the world, d.light has a market leading impact on communities around the world.

Energy is important in crisis affected settings. Over the years, d.light has partnered with various humanitarian agencies to provide energy solutions in emergencies. For successful NGO-private sector partnerships to occur, there is need to shift from viewing the private sector as merely suppliers, but more of partners. Successful after sales services also ensure that beneficiaries get the best experience while sustainable market creation provides jobs and sources of livelihoods for communities.

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