Why did you decide to join the Humanitarian Leadership Academy?

I have been working in the humanitarian and disaster risk management (DRM) sector in Bangladesh since 1996. With these experiences and learnings, I was looking for opportunities to contribute in a wider area of knowledge management through strengthening the capacity of humanitarian response and DRM in Bangladesh and globally.

I like taking risks, testing new ideas and innovations, and I strongly believe in Confucius’ philosophy: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. The mission and goal of the Academy seemed to perfectly match with my personal objectives, as it provides opportunities for identifying, testing, incubating and accelerating new approaches and ideas in capacity strengthening and learning.

Partnering, networking and facilitating for purpose are the activities I love most; these also lead me to join the Academy.


What are the humanitarian needs of Bangladesh and why is it important to have a centre in this particular location?

Over the last few decades, Bangladesh has become a model country for humanitarian response and disaster risk management. From grassroots communities up to the national level leadership, people have increased capacity in this sector and the country’s overall disaster management and preparedness has been improved. However, there is still a gap in initialisation and sustainability of these capacities.

Climate change, rapid urbanisation and industrialisation in the country have increased the diversity, frequency and intensity of disasters and emergencies. Millions of poor people living in marginalised and high risk areas are impacted and migrate to unplanned urban areas which are also vulnerable to earthquakes, fires and other urban and industrial disasters. Within this context, the primary humanitarian needs of Bangladesh are community based disaster preparedness and humanitarian response capacity building, with a focus on climate change adaptation and urban disasters.

The Bangladesh Academy Centre will identify the learning needs and focus on sustainability, leading to a positive impact on the lives of the most vulnerable communities. The Academy’s innovations such as the use of new technologies will help mitigate and reduce the new and diversified risks those people face on a daily basis.

As part of the Academy’s vision, the many DRM models and best practices that have been proven successful and efficient in Bangladesh will be shared globally so other countries can learn too.


The Humanitarian Leadership Academy strongly believes in collaboration and partnerships. Could you tell us why this is particularly relevant to Bangladesh?

There is a gap in initialisation and sustainability of Bangladesh’s humanitarian and DRM capacities, and without a strong public/private sector collaboration, this gap will remain. Partnering with vulnerable communities is also very important, we need to understand how they want to learn and make the learning relevant to them.

The government has shown its commitment towards humanitarian and DRM capacity building. A vibrant NGO community is active in this sector. Stakeholders includes multi/bi-lateral development partners and UN organisations, and many corporations also want to get involved. Within this unique environment, a collaborative partnership among stakeholders can pass-on the successes & results, learnings & experiences with a longer-term perspective.


What kind of learning products and services will you be developing with partners in the region?

We are currently undertaking a study on Learning capacity and Market assessment in Bangladesh in partnership with ADPC (Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre). The study’s methodology includes consultations with stakeholders at every level. Findings from this study will be instrumental in deciding the learning products and services from the Bangladesh Centre.

Nonetheless, cornerstone of our strategy will be to leverage impact and sustainability of the achievements that have already been made in Bangladesh and continually contribute to the government’s plan and actions.


What would you like to say to people who’d like to get involved with the Bangladesh Academy Centre?

Welcome to the Academy! We are a learning organisation that believes that big changes start small. We value your ideas, innovations and even critics, as they lead us to continuously challenge ourselves. Get involved with us: Visit our website, follow us on social media, subscribe to our newsletter and start learning on kaya!

Author: Suman Ahsanul Islam, Bangladesh Academy Centre Director
Learn more about Suman’s background here
Region: Bangladesh
Bangladeshcapacity buildingCommunitiesdisastersDRMFeaturedHumanitarianLearnLearningpartnership
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