- Reaching out to Other Countries
- Consortia Reflection & Planning 2013
- Horn of Africa
- What is an ECB Consortium?
- How did we select five ECB Consortia?
- What is a CEP?
ECB Project on TwitterThe Emergency Food Security and Livelihoods 48hr assessment tool is now available in #Bahasa #Indonesia: http://t.co/Ij4HZCDcys 2 hours ago
ECB Consortia share learning highlights from inter-agency Simulations in 2010-2011
The ECB Simulations Project launched in 2007, when a group of ECB agencies led by Amy Hilleboe (Catholic Relief Services) and Jeff Klenk (consultant) worked to create a Toolkit and Administrators Guide for Simulations facilitators. Targeted both for multi-agency groups and single agency Simulations, this work was a crucial milestone in the ECB Project’s efforts to develop national staff capacity in humanitarian field programming and more integrated approaches to preparedness.
What is the Simulations Guide?
A guide for trainers and facilitators, the toolkit explains how a team of facilitators can conceptualize, implement and capture learning from a Simulation using practical assessment templates, task sheets, briefing notes, preparation guidelines, and evaluation forms. There is an explicit recommendation to keep many elements of the disaster scenario as a surprise so that participants must face a real life and unpredictable set of challenges. Participants then explore their challenges and their frustrations during structured debrief sessions after the Simulation exercise is complete.
The materials can be adapted to suit both single and multi-NGO events and are accessible online for any agency, government or partners. The administrators guide was recently updated by Richard Jacquot, ECB Agency Manager for Mercy Corps, with examples of recent planning and implementation activities in ECB consortia countries and Mercy Corps country program offices such as in Goma and Tajikistan. Contact us for further information.
What have we learnt over the past year?
Over the past 12 months the ECB Project team held Simulations exercises in five ECB consortia countries. Each event ignited a new set of challenges, a unique emergency scenario, and multiple opportunities to reflect upon and question how we work under pressure as individuals and together with our agency peers.
Despite the frustrations with the “not knowing what will happen next”, participants find that Simulations provide a safe space for developing their skills, learning and reflection:
...it always surprises me how participants forget they are in a Simulation and respond in the same way as if they were in a sudden onset emergency. They learn about the challenges their colleagues face both between departments and the communications barriers that exist between NGOs, governments and UN agencies. Participants often see things in a different way and from a different perspective during the debrief sessions, which can be tense at times.” Richard Jacquot, ECB Simulations lead facilitator at Mercy Corps.
The addition of external non-NGO actors in Bolivia, Kenya and Bangladesh heightened the sense of reality during each Simulation. International media, donors, government and UN officials and actors each established their own expectations and challenged the participants to respond to their individual and often competing requirements. Our Bolivian colleagues confirmed during their debriefing “...having real actors present not only allows the identification of gaps and needs in a more real way, but also creates trust and processes in case of real emergencies in the future.”
Multiple skills gaps and coordination issues were identified during the five debriefing sessions, including information management, leadership, needs assessments training, as well as sectoral deficiencies specific to each country including shelter, construction and education competency and experience gaps in the Horn of Africa, and sanitation gaps in Bangladesh. It was also widely understood how the coordination role of the ECB Field Facilitator can massively improve the coordination and likelihood of joint activities during emergencies.
Where do we go from here?
The partnership between the ECB Project and the Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies (CBHA) is already addressing some of these competency gaps with a Leadership & Management program and Core Skills program both launched in February 2011. To date, the CBHA team has reviewed the Simulation participant and facilitator feedback as way of capturing the learning needs and capacity gaps for developing their programs.
A proposed extension of the CBHA curriculum is anticipated in Niger and additional training opportunities are planned in 2012-2013 in all four ECB consortia (Bolivia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Horn of Africa). Further strengthening of disaster mitigation and preparedness planning efforts, particularly with governments, UN and local implementing partners and civil society alliances, will be a priority for the Horn of Africa, Bangladesh and Bolivia. Although ECB Indonesia is yet to hold a Simulation, due to multiple small scale disasters in 2010, the Disaster Response Engagement Protocols (DERP) and Joint Needs Assessment (JNA) initiatives will provide motivation for a further testing during their first Simulation later in 2011.
Recent conversations with Michel Le Pechoux (UNICEF), Frederick Spielberg (UNICEF) and Ian Clarke (UNDP), members of the UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) sub-working group on Disaster Preparedness, confirm our shared mission to mainstream the Simulations approach to preparedness, train a roster of Simulations facilitation personnel, and explore further opportunities for collaboration* between the ECB Project and the UN IASC members. These discussions include opportunities to invite NGO colleagues to join future UN Simulations training of trainer workshops in 2011, and to pool resources and expertise to further develop a shared learning and information management platform for Simulations this year.
Simulations are increasingly being utilized as an effective, low-cost and engaging means of testing contingency plans and running dress-rehearsals for real emergency response. UNICEF is enthusiastic about collaborating with the Emergency Capacity Building Project in this area, inasmuch as ECB has been on the cutting-edge of simulations, working with both NGO partners and government counterparts to test their collaboration in field settings around the world." Michel Le Pechoux, Chief, Early Warning & Preparedness, EMOPS/UNICEF. Co-Chairperson, IASC Sub-Working Group on Preparedness
*Lucien Simba (UNOCHA) supported ECB Niger’s first Simulation as part of the core facilitation team.