By Justyna Al-Samawi, International Medical Corps Jordan
Response to humanitarian emergencies is currently coordinated by key players in the international relief field including the UN and NGOs. Though NGO staff are major actors in implementing emergency response – both international and from the local country – knowledge about humanitarian coordination mechanisms is unevenly spread among the humanitarian NGO community. Often, national NGOs depend on partner international NGOs for capacity development trainings which rarely touch the issue of international coordination processes.
In response, International Medical Corps, in collaboration with Concern Worldwide and Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, began a two-year project titled “Building a Better Response (BBR): Strengthening NGO Capacity and Engagement with the International Humanitarian Architecture.
Funded by USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, the project will strengthen the capacity of national and international NGOs to better engage with the humanitarian system in a manner that improves overall coordination of humanitarian response. The first phase includes a series of consultations with national and international NGOs. To date the consultations have taken place in Washington DC, New York, Geneva, London, Dakar, Nairobi and Amman.
Consultations in Amman on July 9th gathered representatives from both Jordanian and international NGOs. The meetings included discussions on the barriers of engagement with the humanitarian architecture as well as the optimum role that NGOs can play in the cluster system.
“The consultations were an excellent opportunity for NGOs to give their feedback and thoughts about the challenges to strategic engagement with the international humanitarian structure, such as the cluster system, humanitarian country leadership and pooled funding mechanisms,” said Seamus Jeffreson, International Medical Corps Jordan Country Director. “The consultations provided a great platform for NGO humanitarian community to share experiences from the field and suggest a set of recommendations in order to fill knowledge gaps that limit effectiveness of NGO participation in the international humanitarian architecture.”
Information gathered during the BBR consultations will be used to develop an e-learning tool.
“The Amman NGO consultation meeting offered us an excellent opportunity to obtain a wide variety of input from a number of actors – from large international NGOs to local Jordanian groups,” says Angela Wiens, International Medical Corps Program Director and BBR consultations facilitator. “The information we collected from these consultations will help us design the curriculum for the e-learning tool that will be the outcome of the BBR project. This free, online resource will allow agencies involved in a humanitarian disaster response to enhance their knowledge and awareness of the humanitarian coordination system, its structure, functioning, and various actors’ roles within the international humanitarian architecture.”
The final phases of the BBR project will include the pilot testing of the tool in the field and blended learning workshops, which combine simulations, tabletop exercises and an exchange of knowledge between participants.