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DFID (UKaid) support new ECB staff development programme
Published on 1 November 2009
By Graham Mackay, Deputy Humanitarian Director, Oxfam GB
Humanitarian agencies currently face challenges recruiting and retaining the quantity and quality of personnel with the desired leadership skills in both national and international NGOs engaged in emergency response. Despite the increase in the frequency and severity of disasters requiring response, there are no commonly agreed competency and leadership behavior frameworks to serve the needs of humanitarian work, or an agreed inter-agency baseline on staff capacity. As a result, there is no common capacity building process for staff across humanitarian agencies.
What is the CBHA?
The Consortium of British Humanitarian Agencies (CBHA) is a consortium of UK-based NGOs with a shared vision to meet humanitarian needs in conflict and natural disasters and reduce suffering by strengthening the ability and capacity of “The Third Pillar” – the NGO sector - to deliver high quality, effective and timely humanitarian responses. With two year funding from DFID’s (UKAid) Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Fund, the CBHA will seek to achieve this in number of ways: by creating a mechanism to provide predictable, flexible seed money for NGOs in the first 48 hours of an emergency; by strengthening humanitarian logistics systems; and by investing in staff capacity.
Why staff capacity?
The quantity and quality of staff capacity continues to be a constraint to comprehensive, effective, and consistent humanitarian action. Along with challenges in the timely deployment of staff with required operational skills and technical and behavioural competencies for emergency response, the lack of availability of experienced staff with strong emergency management and leadership capabilities is of concern to both national and international NGOs.
How is ECB involved?
Staff Capacity is one of the 3 themes of the ECB Project, and several members of the CBHA are also part of the ECB global partnership. To exploit these synergies, the ECB Project plans to partner with the CBHA to develop and deliver a staff development programme with separate modules specifically for national and partner staff that: (i) can be used as a basic tool for any agency, adaptable to specific agency and context needs; (ii) focuses on staff and managers who may not be full time emergency practitioners, rather those who are called from their “regular” work to respond to an emergency; and (iii) seeks to reach as broad a group of field practitioners as possible by making it cost effective, replicable, translatable, and with different options for accessing the tool.
As a global multi-agency initiative, the ECB Project is well placed to facilitate the development of relevant staff development programmes to address this capacity gap given:
- the existing expertise and country level structures in place within the participating agencies to input into and support the testing and rollout of the programme at the field level.
- the documented experience and lessons learned from previous work in this area during Phase I of the project, in particular, the pilot National Staff Development Program which was then developed and tested. Important learning from this initiative, as well as expertise from within CBHA agencies, will be the basis for the design of the suggested activities and rollout of an enhanced National Staff Development Program (NSDP II).
- the diversity and breadth of partners at the field and global level – the inclusive participation of other international agencies, local partners and government, significantly increases the potential for greater benefit and impact on the wider humanitarian sector.
What will the planned programme consist of?
ECB’s component of the CBHA programme will begin with a systematic staff capacity development needs assessment in the target countries/regions. Based on the findings of the assessment, appropriate and adaptable learning methodologies and materials will be developed for 2 programmes:
(a) core humanitarian skills development programme for national staff; and
(b) leadership & management development programme for national and regional staff.
The 2 programmes will then be implemented in 2 initial focus areas (Bangladesh and the Horn of Africa), continuously monitored and the lessons learnt used to improve them and assess their impact on organisational and individual performance. Implementation in a further 2 countries will follow. Structured simulations will be held with the target groups in all 4 target countries/regions to further assess baseline levels of existing staff capacity.
Learning will be captured via learning events in the UK and in each country location. An impact evaluation will be conducted at the end of the 1st cycle and a report published and shared widely.
Based on the implemented programmes and lessons learnt, all learning materials and facilitator’s notes will be consolidated into a professionally produced package, which may include a handbook, DVD, website or other media as appropriate. This will then be disseminated widely and used to promote uptake of the Programme in other vulnerable countries and contexts.
Photo: Photo: Jane Beesley / Oxfam, 2009
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