In a world where hundreds of millions of people have been affected or displaced the past two years by disasters like Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines or the civil war in Syria, a consortium of international emergency response groups launched a free online training tool today that breaks new ground in coordinating relief efforts, building capacity in local organizations, explaining funding and detailing universal humanitarian principles.
Leaders of the consortium — comprised of first response groups International Medical Corps and Concern Worldwide, along with Harvard University’s Humanitarian Initiative – said unique aspects of the online course include optimization for low band width usage by local agencies in nations impacted by disasters, access to it through hand-held devices, development by and for first responders, and its reliance on simulation-based learning.
The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance Director Jeremy Konyndyk, said, “Building a Better Response is a superior solution for training humanitarian responders because it was developed by NGO practitioners who understand that in the fast-paced, high-stress humanitarian profession, easily accessible and applied training is essential to making real progress in our work.”
International Medical Corps President & CEO Nancy Aossey said the consortium’s efforts focused on determining what a broad range of practitioners think are the best ways to coordinate emergency response, foster cooperation and save lives during a disaster.
“Input from groups around the world with deep operational experience was crucial to the development of this program,” Aossey said. “The collaboration and insights of our colleagues were invaluable in the tool’s development.”
The online course offers participants a certificate from the Humanitarian Academy at Harvard University, where the platform was developed after close coordination with more than 400 national and international NGO staff and industry experts.
Concern Worldwide U.S. CEO Dr. Joseph Cahalan said, “by better understanding the system, NGO staff – and others working in the humanitarian field – will be able to participate more fully and ultimately be more effective. This program helps fill a gap in our collective knowledge, which, at the end of the day, benefits those we rush to help during emergencies.”
The online tool, which can be accessed at BuildingABetterResponse.org, consists of five units: the Foundation of Humanitarian Action; the International Humanitarian Architecture, the Cluster Approach; Planning and Funding the Humanitarian Response; and International Law and Humanitarian Standards.