Never more apart, never closer together. This was the paradox of 2020 and its defining crisis: the Covid-19 pandemic. As lockdowns forced us into isolated bubbles for months at a time, we found ways to meet the deep human need for connection – connection to support, to information, to each other.
It was a global crisis that brought home the importance of the people around us. Instinctively, it was those in our own communities we rallied around or looked to for support. If any year made the case for local people taking the lead in responding to the crises they face, it was 2020. At the same time, technology made distance meaningless, bringing us closer than ever to people on the other side of the planet. The possibilities for sharing experiences and knowledge across boundaries seemed limitless.
This report shows why the Humanitarian Leadership Academy is all about building just these kinds of connections. It covers two years – 2019 and 2020 – and two teams: Save the Children UK’s Humanitarian Capacity Building team and the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, which merged under the banner of the Humanitarian Leadership Academy in January 2021.
In the pages that follow, you’ll read how we expanded and improved the range and quality of the learning we offer. You’ll discover how we responded rapidly to the Covid-19 crisis, launching a new Covid-19 learning pathway. You’ll see how we tapped into the world’s most exciting new advances to offer education in groundbreaking new formats – from virtual reality to interactive multiplayer games. And you’ll find out how we stepped up our drive to provide humanitarians with opportunities for professional development and the recognition their expertise deserves.
The report sets out our unmatched learning offer, including our programmes to help humanitarian organisations better prepare for disasters. It explains our passion for localisation – a shift from an international, top-down system of humanitarian aid to one led by local responders. And it shows how our approach promotes that shift through a global network of regional centres, which put learning experts in the parts of the world they’re needed most.
In 2019-20, as humanitarians stepped up to the challenge of Covid-19 and other ever-more frequent and complex crises, demand for our services surged. Our award-winning online platform, Kaya, ended the year with 281,000 users – a figure that doubled in the space of 2020 alone. The excellence of our pioneering new courses was recognised with a series of awards, and some of the world’s leading non-governmental organisations took Kaya and moulded it to their needs. Most importantly of all, as you’ll read in this report, hundreds of thousands of people from Bangladesh to Mozambique to Yemen took the skills, tools and knowledge we offer and applied it in their own communities. A new generation of local humanitarians, responding to some of the worst humanitarian crises on earth.
Director of the Humanitarian Leadership Academy