Training for emergencies

Awareness and education are essential for aid workers to work in the field of humanitarian mental and psychosocial health, as both technical competencies and academic knowledge are essential for this task. But ultimately, aid workers must also be able to translate their own empathy and human values into effective work, becoming more directly accountable to their beneficiaries.

Recent surveys have underlined a number of weaknesses in humanitarian capacity building, especially in self-management and team work. The research addresses the issues of how an  aid worker can gain more resistance to stress, navigate through critical incidents without too much damage, and at the same time respect their peers and help develop a resilient spirit within their team. How can they “do no harm” and apply human rights to the field of mental and psychosocial health, while understanding the challenges of working in a multicultural environment? These are complex and difficult tasks requiring a high level of professionalism.

What do we mean by humanitarian professionalism?

The desire to reduce suffering, save lives and maintain human dignity demands high qualifications.  Yet professionalism must also be balanced with a sense of calling and belief in service. This balance requires maturity and moral strength, which implies high level competencies in self-management and team work, amongst other things.

At an organizational level, the current research shows a need for systemic change: A greater emphasis placed on recognizing local talents in developing countries, increasing responsibility given to national staff, and stronger, more effective training. The solution requires a strategic approach to humanitarian staff development.


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