Viewing archives for East and Southern Africa

We are currently supporting humanitarian responses in multiple locations - Find out more

Informing, Inspiring and Initiating Change: learning together across East and Southern Africa

Humanitarians in East and Southern Africa are tenaciously learning their way to a new humanitarian era.

In this article we share a series of reflections on core activities from the third quarter of 2023 including the region’s first Humanitarian Summit in Kenya, the first ever Education in Emergencies (EiE) Fundamentals training in Ethiopia and learning activities from Mozambique to Zimbabwe.

Nairobi, Kenya | September

For the first time ever, over 40 humanitarians from across a network of country programmes in East and Southern Africa came together to discuss their priorities, challenges and plans for the future. In the 5-day Humanitarian Summit, participants exchanged ideas on strategies to drive change and achieve collaborative impact.

With a deliberate focus on three i’s – inform, inspire and initiate change; sessions throughout the week combined team coaching techniques, technical procedural discussions and new leadership approaches.


By the end of the summit, participants left with renewed drive and new lessons learned or emphasised. A participant noted:

“All civil society organisations have power; we need to learn to link with them and work together. Always link your daily work to the strategy and check how is it contributing to the Global Strategy.”

Speaking on the importance of setting up crucial spaces for dialogue, such as this region-wide Humanitarian Summit, Janet Nyaoro, HLA Lead in East and Southern Africa said: “I am very glad that as one of the organisers and facilitators in this summit, we managed to create a safe space where issues were raised, status quo challenged, and some uncomfortable conversations took place. Some resolutions were reached while others were carried forward. The feedback we received from those who attended was encouraging and there were also lessons we picked which can help us improve next year’s summit.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | September

52 members of Ethiopia’s National Education Clusters recently completed the Education in Emergencies (EiE) Fundamentals blended course. This was the first time an EiE Fundamentals course was delivered in Ethiopia. Participants from NGOs, INGOs, the UN and European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) completed the EiE Module 1: Foundational Concepts & Frameworks on the HLA’s free digital learning platform, Kaya prior to the 5-day in-person workshop.

EiE Fundamentals is one of three EiE courses offered by the HLA. The course equips EiE and education professionals with core competencies needed to initiate, design, and implement an EiE response in their unique contexts. Many participants at this training were from local organisations, in line with the HLA’s goal of strengthening civil society organisations.

Colleagues from Save the Children in Ethiopia, and UNICEF as well as two current EiE students and one graduate of the EiE Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) supported the HLA team to facilitate and deliver the training.

Rose Wahome, HLA Learning Solutions Specialist in East and Southern Africa said: “It was a great opportunity seeing the EiE CAS graduates in action as facilitators, and it also enabled us to run two cohorts reaching over 50 participants at a go. Additionally, the CAS graduates used Amharic for most sessions which enabled participants in their cohort to participate fully as they did not have to use English all the time”.


Commenting on the blended learning experience, one participant from a national NGO said: “The training was fundamental and comprehensive, as stated in the title. I have learned a lot of things that are very basic and mandatory for those implementing EiE and education practitioners.”

Another participant from an international non-governmental organisation shared: “Since my experience has been in the development sector, it is a good learning opportunity for me. The links attached for further learning are also important. Thank you so much.”

Chilanga, Zambia | August

Twenty-nine humanitarians from Save the Children International and partners, joined a 5-day Humanitarian Emergency Preparedness Training delivered by the HLA ESA team.

Emergency Preparedness Planning (EPP) is a key element of anticipatory action; and creates an opportunity to plan, prepare for and possibly mitigate the impact or scale of a crises. This training covered humanitarian principles and standards, Sphere, conflict sensitivity programming, humanitarian coordination, and leadership, amongst others.

The training was an opportunity to reflect on the specific needs of the people who were present in the room. During the training and while conducting the EPP, participants ranked drought as the highest risk followed closely by flooding both of which lead to disease outbreaks, such as Cholera. These are expected to be used in developing an EPP document for 2024.

An anticipatory action simulation exercise was organised as part of the training. The simulation helped to provide insight and knowledge to better plan for, design and implement humanitarian programming.

At the end of training, participants set up key actions to continue in the train of being fully prepared ahead of an emergency and upskilling themselves in disaster risk management.

One key emphasis was on the importance of a lasting mutual partnership between international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) and local/national NGOs to share information, get feedback and learn as a team.

Speaking on lessons learned and points to take away, a participant noted:
“The training was awesome and reminded me how we sometimes cause more harm to our target audiences than Doing No Harm due to our lack of empathy and sensitivity in the process. My eyes were opened to have a holistic approach with high sensitivity in the process.”

Reflecting on the training, Wycklife Ajowi, Regional Programme Administrator for the HLA in ESA said: “I was truly inspired by the passion and commitment from the team to making a positive impact to communities. It was an enriching experience to support the facilitation of humanitarian emergency preparedness training and shared learning on how to navigate challenges we face in humanitarian work will really improve teams’ invaluable work.”

Zimbabwe | August

This two-day intense training delved into the concept of localisation and its practicalities in the relevant context. Janet Nyaoro, HLA ESA Lead and Sisay Dejene, Heads of Partnerships at SCI Ethiopia facilitated this training, which was delivered to all staff of SCI Zimbabwe – country office.

Local and national responders are best placed to understand the needs of their community, local circumstances, culture, and politics. They are usually the first to respond to crises and often have access that international actors cannot achieve; they may be the only responders. Local and national responders are generally best placed to link response efforts to resilience building, preparedness, and recovery, because they are present before, during and after a crisis.

The training sessions were honest, interactive, and met with enthusiasm. Covering the journey of localisation including the demands required to make it work, its dimensions, spectrum, experiences, and best practices from localisation champions in various countries. Participants were also presented with some of the best ways to demonstrate partnership principles.

For next steps, the training laid emphasis on some key action points such as identifying a localisation champion, establishing a localisation strategy, mobilising funding for advancing more localised responses, enhancing the understanding of the localisation policy, and developing a localisation road map.

The goal is to advance localisation in practice and empower more people with knowledge to lead on progressing the localisation agenda.

Nampula, Mozambique | July

Education in Emergencies (EiE) Fundamentals training in Mozambique was organised and co-facilitated by two EiE Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) course participants along with two HLA colleagues in the East and Southern Africa (ESA) office. The training was conducted in English and Portuguese.

Allex, one of EiE CAS participants and co-facilitator said: “The training was a great success. Most participants who attended are already working in the humanitarian sector. The discussions around child participation have provided tools and options that participants can use on Assessment, Design, Implementation, as well as Monitoring and Evaluation interventions. Another topic which has been mentioned by participants as to have been very useful is the Conflict Sensitive Education, where they became aware that EiE interventions should not cause any harm to children and communities.”

More here: Paying it forward: Education in Emergencies (EiE) Fundamentals in Mozambique – Humanitarian Leadership Academy

We are currently supporting humanitarian responses in multiple locations - Find out more

Kaya – strengthening humanitarians’ skills


Since May 2016, Kaya – the free digital learning platform operated by the Humanitarian Leadership Academy has upskilled thousands of humanitarians globally to directly respond to crises in their localities. Kaya is providing high quality, expert led and industry recognised learning at times and places where access can be challenging.

A Kaya learner from Syria said: “As someone who faced challenges due to the Syrian crisis, such as limited access and remote management, I found Kaya’s designed courses to be invaluable in enhancing my skills and knowledge.

The platform not only helped me keep learning but also enabled me to share this knowledge with colleagues, team members, and partner staff, ultimately making a positive impact on those affected by the crisis, especially since many courses are available in different languages including Arabic.”

With over 700,000 learners from 190 countries registered on the platform; there are now over 500 learning resources available on Kaya in 12 languages at varying levels of expertise. Resources for people who have never been involved in humanitarian action to resources for people who have worked in the sector for many years.

A Kaya learner from Cote D’Ivoire said: “The learning has changed my outlook, it’s opened my eyes to some of the challenges faced by our colleagues on the ground.”

Kaya content is contextually relevant and is often updated by experts across the globe with new information as new processes are introduced to humanitarian action.

How can I access Kaya and what will I find?

Kaya is free and accessible on a phone, tablet or laptop. You will need access to the internet to sign up and find content. However, your coursework can be done offline, and progress uploaded when you have access to internet again.

Resources range from games, quizzes, and assessments to online self-directed courses and pathways, webinars, videos, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), and blended courses. Kaya users can also find registration for face-to-face workshops and events and so much more available and accessible at the learner’s time/flexibility.

A Kaya learner from South Africa said: “I believe that Kaya fosters creativity and critical thinking and for me that is an essential skill that every humanitarian needs.”

Kaya is not only helping humanitarians grow, but also supporting international, national and local non-governmental organisations (who we partner with) to share their knowledge on an accessible platform.

Another Kaya learner from Ukraine said: I’ve used the Kaya platform during my work with International Rescue Committee till October 2022. And nowadays I was really surprised to see this hub available in Ukrainian. I don’t remember any other humanitarian platform with trainings available in our language.”

Kaya resources are accessible; the platform includes a screen reader helper, a dyslexia friendly view and much more. As a learner on Kaya, you can earn certificates and showcase the certificates you receive from completing courses. Some courses award HPass digital badges, which you can add to your LinkedIn profile. These certificates and badges validate gained knowledge and encourage and motivate humanitarians to accelerate their learning and professional development.

I was really surprised to see this hub available in Ukrainian. I don’t remember any other humanitarian platform with trainings available in our language.”

What should I do now?

If you’re looking to learn something new as a humanitarian – from project management to proposal writing, understanding big concepts like cash and voucher assistance or the Grand Bargain. If you’re looking to join valuable networks such as the Women in Leadership network hosted on Kaya – sign up now.

If you’re already a Kaya learner, tell a friend about Kaya. Share one of the #KayaAppreciation posts on our social media channels or create your own.

The Humanitarian Leadership Academy remains poised to support professional growth and Kaya learners’ impact and invaluable contributions to individual communities.

We are currently supporting humanitarian responses in multiple locations - Find out more

Supporting individuals and teams working in the Sudan response

The Sudan Response Hub is now available for use

Humanitarians working in the Sudan response can now access useful training online all in one place. The Sudan Response Learning Hub has been created to provide learning online especially where it is challenging to access face-to-face training.

The Hub is a free open-access platform that curates about 50 short courses from platforms such as Kaya and Disaster Ready to support teams and individuals in all response areas in Sudan.

Janet Nyaoro, HLA East and Southern Africa (ESA) Lead who supported the creation of the hub spoke about its importance saying:

“We’ve created this hub to support fellow humanitarians in the East and Southern Africa region.  We hope they make good use of this resource.  As the situation changes in Sudan, we will update the learning hub to reflect and support the learning needs of responders.”

Resources on the hub are specifically focused on key topics and areas relevant to the Sudan response context such as Child Protection, Staff Self Care & Wellbeing, Humanitarian Essentials, Gender equality and gender-based violence (GBV) programming, Learning and Wellbeing in Emergencies, Non-discrimination, Protection against sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA), Psychological First Aid (PFA) and more.

These resources are available in English and Arabic.

Notes to Editors

Access the Hub – Sudan Response Learning Hub

About the Humanitarian Leadership Academy (HLA)

The Humanitarian Leadership Academy is a global learning initiative set up to build people’s skills and capabilities through learning. HLA facilitates partnerships and collaborative opportunities to enable people to prepare for and respond to crises in their own countries.

As a sector-facing team within Save the Children, HLA benefits from the knowledge and experience brought by 100 years of responding to crises while still retaining independence. This allows us to complement Save the Children’s work, supporting more humanitarians, working with anyone with an interest in creating positive change, and exploring new innovations in learning.

Humanitarian Leadership Academy | Preparing the next generation of humanitarians

We are currently supporting humanitarian responses in multiple locations - Find out more

Paying it forward: Education in Emergencies (EiE) Fundamentals in Mozambique

Facilitating an EiE Fundamentals training in Mozambique

Two current participants in the EiE Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) course along with two HLA colleagues in the East and Southern Africa (ESA) office facilitated a five-day EiE Fundamentals training in Nampula, Mozambique this July.

Allex Meque and Salinas Reginaldo are in Module 8 of the EiE CAS course, which includes the task of conducting a training and preparing a report. EiE CAS, the most advanced EiE course offered by HLA is a comprehensive 450-hour blended learning experience accredited by the University of Geneva.

The duo exercised the opportunity to strengthen their capacity and that of 20 fellow humanitarians from Save the Children International (SCI) Mozambique Country Office. Participants in the training were education professionals, SCI Mozambique’s implementing partners, members of the Education cluster and Ministry of Education staff from various field offices.

Group discussions during the training

Led by Rose Wahome and Janeth Cherubeth – HLA EiE experts, the five-day training was designed to equip participants with the fundamental competencies needed to initiate, design, and implement an EiE response in their context.

“The training was excellent, now I will implement my activities looking at the objectives of the EiE, and the principles of Humanitarianism” – EiE Officer, SCI Gabo Delgado

The training was conducted in both English and Portuguese to highly engaged participants who shared their feedback at the end of five days:

“The training was excellent, now I will implement my activities looking at the objectives of the EiE, and the principles of Humanitarianism” – EiE Officer, SCI Gabo Delgado

“Thank you for the lessons learned as they will help me improve my emergency program implementation activities.” – Assistant Programme Coordinator TDH Italy- Nampula

“The training was very good, I’m so happy to understand a lot of themes that you give us. Thank you, a lot.” – Child Protection in Emergencies (CPiE) Coordinator SCI

Allex, EiE CAS participant and co-facilitator said: “The training was a great success. Most participants who attended are already working in the humanitarian sector. The discussions around child participation have provided tools and options that participants can use on Assessment, Design, Implementation, as well as Monitoring and Evaluation interventions. Another topic which has been mentioned by participants as to have been very useful is the Conflict Sensitive Education, were they became aware that EiE interventions should not cause any harm to children and communities.”

Rose, HLA EiE expert said: “It is always an amazing experience witnessing CAS students cascade their learning to an audience that needs it.”

Register for upcoming face-to-face EiE trainings in the region. Click the button below.

*Participant quotes have been translated from Portuguese.

We are currently supporting humanitarian responses in multiple locations - Find out more

Rolling out Child Protection in Humanitarian Action – Child Protection Minimum Standards in Kenya

May 2023: Congratulations to the participants and organisers from the HLA, AICS, Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, and Daystar University.

New child protection learning package for entry to mid-level practitioners getting ready to respond to upcoming crises.

We were delighted to recently collaborate with Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action to support the roll-out of the Child Protection in Humanitarian Action – Child Protection Minimum Standards (CPHA – CPMS) learning package in Nairobi, Kenya.

In May 2023, our East and Southern Africa (ESA) Regional Centre – together with our Regional Child Protection in Emergencies Professional Development Programme Manager based in Jordan – worked in partnership with Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action and Daystar University to deliver this learning package comprising a five-day face-to-face training session in Nairobi.

The training was attended by 24 participants working in the field of child protection in various organisations, including local and international humanitarian and development organisations, academia as well as government officials from Kenya, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Cameroon, and Somalia.

The Child Protection in Humanitarian Action – Child Protection Minimum Standards (CPHA – CPMS) learning package is designed to help build entry to mid-level skills and knowledge of child protection in humanitarian contexts, getting ready to respond to upcoming crises. The package is designed to be implemented in a flexible way in diverse humanitarian and learning settings.

It aims to strengthen participants’ awareness of their own role in preventing and responding to child protection risks through sectoral and inter-sectoral interventions in humanitarian contexts, in line with Child Protection Minimum Standards (CPMS) and guiding principles.

The training featured a series of interactive and immersive workshops facilitated by Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, HLA, Save the Children International and Daystar University.

I can say the most significant impact of the CPMS learning programme was the empowerment I could see in my team at the end of the residential training in Nairobi. By having been provided face-to-face training and guidance on the CPMS handbook, I believe that I’m now in a better position to deliver quality Child Protection prevention and response services and achieve better results for children. – Training participant, a Child Protection Project Manager, Somalia/Somaliland.

Elena Giannini, Focal Point – Learning and Development Working Group from The Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action said:

“When contextualised and used with the support of local actors the CPHA-CPMS Learning programme can be a great tool to better prepare practitioners to prevent and respond to violence abuse and neglect of children in humanitarian contexts.

We hope to be able to replicate the learning experience soon in cooperation with partners from a variety of contexts.”

Rola Makhadmeh, HLA Regional Child Protection in Emergencies Professional Development Programme Manager (MENA), remarked:

“The CPHA-CPMS learning package training was a great initiative to strengthen the awareness among child protection practitioners of the Child Protection Minimum Standards, and a tool to build the knowledge and skills for preventing and responding to child protection risks in humanitarian contexts.”

Looking to the future, plans are underway to pilot the CPHA-CPMS training programme in Arabic for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to support the Türkiye and Syria humanitarian response.

We are currently supporting humanitarian responses in multiple locations - Find out more

Education in Emergencies residential training for the East and Southern Africa Region

May 2023: Congratulations to the trainers and participants involved in the recent successful Education in Emergencies (EiE) Residential Training in Kajiado, Kenya.

In May, participants from across the East and Southern Africa (ESA) region convened in Kenya to apply their learning gained across the six course modules to an in-person Education in Emergencies simulation.

Led by our colleagues from the ESA Regional Centre, the residential provided a unique opportunity for the cohort to apply their learning gained across six course modules to an in-person EiE simulation.

The training took place as part of the EiE Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS): a comprehensive blended learning experience accredited by the University of Geneva. It is a sector-facing course targeting mid/senior level EiE and education practitioners working and based in emergency-affected or prone regions.

It aims to help practitioners to further develop their EiE design, implementation and leadership skills, as well as their ability to share these with others.

EiE Simulation

During the simulation participants are transported to a fictional land to plan and respond to a crisis.

Tasks in the simulation included analysing education data, developing response plans and results framework, and presenting a funding ask to a panel of ‘donors’.

It was amazing…we gained substantial skills and knowledge that will contribute massive inputs to our professional development. Personally, I learned a lot from the session and interactions I had with my colleagues from East, West, and South Africa. I was impressed by the smile and sympathy of the entire team. They were spectacular and inspiring days that will remain in my heart and mind forever. – Participant from Ethiopia

The Advanced course is delivered to 30 learners per year by the EiE Professional Development Programme teams in HLA’s Regional Centres, in collaboration with EiE technical experts from Save the Children, other supporting organisations, and previous cycle graduates.

There is one final module to complete before the Class of 2023 will be awarded their Certificate of Advanced Studies.

I have really learned a lot about myself, I am more of a ‘driver’ than I thought. These three days made me realise that EiE really needs to be fully integrated, teacher trainings, wellbeing, classroom structures are all totally linked. I really didn’t understand why I do what I do – now it makes sense. In my life I have never experienced this type of simulation where we have the opportunity to work with new people to build a team and work towards a common goal. – Participant from Kenya

You may also be interested in

We are currently supporting humanitarian responses in multiple locations - Find out more

Traveling through training terrains

Janet, HLA ESA Lead delivering training outside in Blue Nile

What does it take to deliver training where it is much needed?

When you think of training (not physical exercise for a marathon), what comes to mind? A laptop, notepad and pen, or a whiteboard and post it notes, meeting new people, one to two full days of learning new information, something boring and scary, travel to a scenic location or round tables and participatory groups?  

Recently our team in the East and Southern Africa (ESA) region embarked on an adventure that would see 26 humanitarians upskilled in Core Humanitarian Standards, Basic Monitoring Evaluation Accountability and Learning (MEAL), Child Safeguarding and Humanitarian Principles with a focus on gender transformational thinking.

“Listening to community people empowers me. It gives a lot of perspective and makes one conscious of the things we do and why we do it.”
Janet Nyaoro, HLA East and Southern Africa Lead

In 40-to-42-degree weather, Janet and her team travelled for a total of 12 days to arrive and depart from Blue Nile where this capacity strengthening exercise had been requested. The Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (SRRA) which regulates local NGOs in Sudan made a request for capacity building earlier in the year through Save the Children’s Eastern and Southern Africa regional office.

Janet Nyaoro, who leads the Humanitarian Leadership Academy (HLA) ESA team, led a team of three through Nairobi, Juba-Sudan, Maban – where the UN Humanitarian air service flew the team in a small airplane to Blue Nile. Through sorting visas and travel documents, sleeping in thatch and mud huts and make-shift thatch beds, the team felt a strong sense of fulfilment in the enthusiastic engagement from participants.

Reflecting on the journey, Janet said, “listening to community people empowers me. It gives a lot of perspective and makes one conscious of the things we do and why we do it.”

Participants were secretaries from every state department, government officials including the Deputy Governor, policemen and SRRA officials. The training participants received certificates but one of the key take-aways from the training was the resolve to set up a child protection desk in the Blue Nile police station.

Traveling through training terrains: Blue Nile

Participants received certificates but one of the key take-aways from the training was the resolve to set up a child protection desk in the Blue Nile police station.

In addition to over 500 resources on HLA’s free digital learning platform – Kaya, the HLA partners with local organisations in all five regions where we work to deliver tailored learning that meets the needs of humanitarians and the demands of the crises they face: through various formats ranging from simulations to mentoring, from online distance learning to face-to-face training, and from group work to one-to-one coaching.

Traveling through training terrains at the HLA, you may find the not-so glamourous yet highly rewarding side of delivering capacity strengthening support to persons who need it most, people at the borders of bringing change.

We are currently supporting humanitarian responses in multiple locations - Find out more

Delivering humanitarian training in the remote Nuba Mountains

Learning the Fundamentals of Humanitarian Response

 

Our colleagues in the East and Southern Africa (ESA) Regional Office recently delivered a successful three-day training on the Fundamentals of Humanitarian Response in the remote and challenging terrain of the Nuba Mountains – an area where Save the Children delivers humanitarian programmes through the Sudan Country Office.

Training in the Nuba Mountains

50 participants – including five women, among them a mother and child – were drawn from the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association (SRRA), the Secretariat of Nuba Mountains, Save the Children International and local partners. The First Secretary engaged as a full and active training participant for the three-day programme.

Governor Anuor Saleh, who opened and closed the training, thanked HLA colleagues for their dedication and for travelling to the region – a challenging journey of five days from Nairobi.

Nuba Mountains needs capacity building to continue being self-reliant. Today we are sitting in this SRRA hall learning; tomorrow we will be back to the community delivering humanitarian assistance. The communities are looking up to us for quality humanitarian assistance.
Anuor Saleh, Governor of Nuba Mountains

We are currently supporting humanitarian responses in multiple locations - Find out more

Opinion: One year on — new models of response to the Ukraine crisis

By Pawel Mania, Deputy Director for Transformational Response, and Kamila Wujec, Regional Lead for the HLA Eastern Europe Regional Centre

As we approach one year of armed conflict in Ukraine, the same questions keep echoing: How many more months? How much more aid? The war situation and the information reaching the public are constantly evolving. In this chaotic state of rapid changes and ever more complexity, there are two things that have remained constant: Ukrainian resilience and European solidarity.

As those focused on supporting the Ukraine response at the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, or HLA, we know that the response to the conflict in Ukraine receives a level of aid and a profile that is unmatched elsewhere, from the famine in East Africa to conflict in West Africa and the Sahel. However, is there a threshold for the resilience and solidarity we continue to count on when it comes to Ukraine?

Civil society in Ukraine as well as in neighboring countries has overwhelmingly carried the burden of the humanitarian response since the beginning of the war, witnessing about 7.1 million internally displaced persons in Ukraine and 8 million individual refugees from Ukraine recorded across Europe fleeing conflict.

This is clear to our colleagues at the HLA Eastern Europe regional center as well as to other international actors. It has been fully recognized by the Disasters Emergency Committee, or DEC, where Save the Children UK and the HLA are partner organizations that have been delivering an extraordinary response — which has predominantly been implemented through and with local partners.

The need for strengthened local-international collaboration

Findings from a recent DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal Report — in English and Ukrainian — show what has worked well so far, but also reveal how this local-international collaboration can be strengthened to better address the growing needs.

Is this a model for success? Potentially, yes, in many ways. But is it currently a fully sustainable response that is being replicated across the region? This does not appear to be the case, as not all local organizations have been as fortunate as some of those supported by DEC partners. These local organizations made it very clear in two recently published strongly worded open letters, addressed to the humanitarian system from NGOs in Ukraine and Poland. As stated in one of them:

“You bring extraordinary, much-needed knowledge and we are more than willing to learn from you. At the same time be open to learn from us. Only in a true partnership, using the local resources and the knowledge of local NGOs, combining it with international experience and capacity, we all are able to bring about quality change.”

This message is not surprising — according to a report by Humanitarian Outcomes, “national Ukrainian NGOs received a scant 0.003%” of the millions of dollars raised for support by the international humanitarian sector. HLA, together with Save the Children UK, have heard their voices loud and clear and now we are working tirelessly to ensure national Ukrainian NGOs remain at the center of the aid debate on Ukraine. Our previous experience with other global crises tells us that the only sustainable response is one led by local actors.

When setting up our plans for this response, we were also aware of both the tremendous responsibility and the opportunity we have in our hands: the incredibly strong civil society, generous funding, and reassuring political will. Our programming has focused on supporting local organizations and communities, which nearly a year after, remain at the forefront of the response, and are unsurprisingly exhausted and bruised.

Addressing the issue

The DEC partners, including HLA/SCUK, will be addressing issues raised in the report, by setting up a pooled funding initiative. Learning from the experience of HLA, which is currently rolling out a capacity strengthening fund in Ukraine, local organizations can decide themselves what they want to invest in to continue saving lives and livelihoods but also to repivot their work for when the war ends and reconstruction starts.

To enable this level of support we have set up a regional center in Poland, building on our global delivery model. The newly created regional center allows us to collaborate with other local and international actors within already existing networks or drive new initiatives where there is a gap and need identified by local actors.

In Poland, through the Capacity Strengthening Task Force and with the support of the NGO Forum, we have created the Response Learning Hub, which will soon be fully launched in the region. The hub contains 50 digital courses translated into Ukrainian, Polish, and Romanian. These are humanitarian essentials that have been tested and quality assured for those new to the humanitarian response or who need to improve their knowledge and skills.

This digital learning is complementary to the much wider offer we are delivering through our regional center in Eastern Europe. Local and international leadership must work hand-in-hand in order to successfully deliver localized action to support those in need. By doing so, we are building a bridge toward new models of working based on the huge solidarity we have witnessed.

At HLA we believe that by working with the local civil society we can build the most agile response model. Our partners can adapt their delivery to ever-changing needs and to the complex, multi-layered, and overlapping stages of the humanitarian response. To ensure continued success, we have made focusing on learning from results and evidence nonnegotiable.

In order to maximize the impact of our efforts in the Ukraine crisis, as always, we want to understand what works in this context and what local solutions we should replicate in other responses. While we will be providing direct research funding grants, we are also concurrently developing transformative ways of thinking that drive innovation across the sector through our new thinking project called Alameda. This will promote research and strategy from a non-Western perspective.

Feb. 24 is not an anniversary the Ukrainian people would ever wish to celebrate, but it is a critical moment in the evolution of humanitarian aid. The legacy of this moment for Ukraine and the world at large must therefore be one of radical change toward future responses built on genuine self-determination and effective international solidarity.

Newsletter sign up