Advanced Management in Humanitarian Action

Simulation Exercise
  • Course description

    This study unit will consist of two simulation exercises running over a total of 4 full days. The first simulation will concern a complex emergency (i.e. a humanitarian crisis in a context of internal or interstate conflict where there are no functioning government structures). Students take the roles of representatives of donor and recipient states, UN agencies, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), national/local NGOs, and the media.
    Students will come prepared to play the role assigned to them (having conducted research on the agency and their roles (health experts, technical experts, coordinators, gender specialists etc.) within it. They are presented with a scenario requiring rapid action on their part.
    The second simulation will focus on tapping into local resources in longer-term relief work. It will put the students (again playing the role of relief workers) face to face with local actors, establishing needs and locally preferred solutions, building coalitions, tapping into and reinforcing local resources, overcoming resistance and working within the constraints of the existing political situation.
  • Learning outcomes

    1. Knowledge & Understanding: By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
    - assess what a deployment on the ground in a humanitarian emergency entails
    - make adequate pre-deployment research about the humanitarian emergency and mission
    - assess the complex practical, organizational and political constraints in which humanitarian aid workers operate and how to navigate them
    - grasp the complexities of the local realities into which an international mission inserts itself and the importance to work with, rather than against, local actors and realities.
    2. Skills: By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
    - prepare for field work
    - take into consideration the many and complex variables necessary for a successful humanitarian intervention
    - work with greater sensitivity and political astuteness with a range of actors, from the parents unwilling to let their children undergo a health screening to the head of a intergovernmental agency concerned with the lack of visibility for the agency within the humanitarian mission
  • Teaching and learning methodology

    This study unit aims to:
    - present students with situations similar to those that they are likely to encounter on the ground in cases of humanitarian intervention.
    - following the previous point, prepare students to work effectively on the ground in humanitarian emergency situations
    - highlight the importance of preparation, professionalism, and following international standards in actual deployments in humanitarian emergencies.
    - make students understand the political, social, cultural and organizational complexity of emergencies and emergency responses in today's world.
  • Assessment methods and criteria

    Reflective diary: 50% weight, resit availability present
    Simulation: 50% weight, resit availability present
  • Required reading

    Texts and readings will depend on the particular complex emergency chosen for the simulation (will vary from one year to the next). Texts and readings will also in part depend on which actor(s) the student(s) are playing: each student is supposed to have done background readings on "his/her" organization/agency/government/media outlet.
    For illustrative purposes, if the complex emergency chosen is the famine in Somalia, the literature list would include texts such as:
    Reliefweb country information Somalia (texts, reports, background material compiled from various sources)
    USAID-DCHA Somalia Complex Emergency Fact Sheet series
    Susanne Jaspars and Daniel Maxwell (2008). "Targeting in Complex Emergencies: Somalia Country Case Study" Feinstein International Center
    For reference:
    The Sphere Project (2011) Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response 3rd Edition

Last updated: 16 January 2018

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