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Humanitarian Disaster Response


The purpose of this module is to give participants information, facts and figures, experiences and practical hands on capacity to participate effectively in humanitarian disaster response: how things work (and do not work) and how to make it work.

The module is aimed at channelling “good intentions” of health and medical workers into professional and practical action.


The topics to be covered include:

  • Global humanitarian scene. Impact on health in disasters and conflict situations.
  • Health vulnerabilities and changing trends. What disasters and conflicts teach us.
  • Getting ready for deployment. Dos and don’ts and preparations needed if you are going to be part of a delegation to a war/ disaster situation.
  • Needs assessment. What is it, how do you do it, when do you do, who should do it, what to do with a needs assessment?
  • Communication and media. How do you visibilise health issues, getting stories out, media statements. (Recent research shows that number of deaths is not a key criteria for media interest. However, media coverage is one of the key determinants of money and response from the donors).
  • Fund raising. How to develop concept notes for funding, who are the key donors, format for concept notes etc..
  • Protection. Changing concept of community based protection
  • Standards and guidelines. Sphere humanitarian project, IASC (Inter Agency standing Committee) guidelines.
  • Mental health and psychosocial support in emergency settings
  • IASC guidelines on gender based violence, HIV and AIDS in emergencies.
  • International humanitarian laws and Geneva conventions. Overview. How to document testimonies and case studies of war crimes from a medical angle.
  • UN reforms. UN reforms are the most important happening in the humanitarian sector now. Most of the responses are getting (in the past couple of years) standardised through clusters; (like health cluster etc) and funds are getting centralised. Still, there is a way (even for national and local NGOs) to get in and raise funds and push ideas and agendas. Trick is to know what this is and how it works.

See also:

This module is developed by Dr Unnikrishnan.