Humanitarian Analysis and Intervention Design (H-AID)

Lecture, Seminar
Lecturer(s) Kirstin Scholten
  • General description

    The second semester specialization of Groningen consists of 4 core modules that together form one 20 ECTs course titled “H-AID: Humanitarian Analysis and Intervention Design” plus two advanced modules worth 5 ECTs each; “Advanced Research Methods” & “Advanced Management”.

    The causes and consequences of man-made and natural disasters and the optimal strategies for humanitarian action cannot be analysed in isolation of each other. They have to be studied in relation to each other, by a staff well aware of the intricacies of the subject, since most disasters and conflicts are complex in terms of causes, coping mechanisms and long term reconciliation and reconstruction. Historical, political, legal, demographic, environmental, economic and social factors often all play their role in complex emergencies. Many actors may be involved, such as the local population, national authorities, international relief agencies, etc. These complex emergencies need straightforward tools to analyse them to acquire the deep insights necessary to fulfil the humanitarian objective under the principle of “do no harm”.
    During the second semester specialization of the University of Groningen you will train critical thinking and problem-solving skills to address the above-mentioned challenges. The reference point is the Comprehensive Security framework, which is steered by an interdisciplinary approach to the subject. The Comprehensive Security framework provides students, researchers and practitioners with an assessment tool for complex emergencies (man-made and natural) and the means to design adequate programs and projects. You will learn to perform snap-shot analyses of the needs and security situations – regarding food, health, the environment as well as social, political and economic dimensions – on various levels: from a regional to a state to a local level assessment. In addition, you will be trained in stakeholder and problem tree analysis, as well as matters of evaluation and learning, and intervention design. In addition, experts will give you an insight into food and health security needs and you will be provided with a methods course a especially designed for humanitarian action. At the same time you will also learn how to apply these skills in real-time disaster events. More specifically, during the second semester in Groningen you will learn and practice with the necessary steps of needs assessment, stakeholder analysis, and analysing humanitarian problems so that you can deliver a sensible project proposal for interventions that include considerations of quality assurance (i.e. monitoring and evaluation). 

    The general structure of the course
    The second semester option in Groningen follows three paths for active learning and practice:
    1) Lectures by and discussions with (guest) experts and practitioners which require active preparation and input by the students;
    2) Self-study and team work that help you prepare the grounds for a project proposal for intervention;
    3) Real-time disaster response simulation exercise.
    The second semester specialization is divided in 6 core modules (each of which encompasses 5 ECTS, which makes in total 30 ECTS):
    1. Advanced Management in Humanitarian Action
    2. Advanced Research Methods for Humanitarian Action
    3. Context and Stakeholder Analysis
    4. Humanitarian Supply Chain Management
    5. Evidence Based Programming
    6. NOHA Comprehensive Reflective Simulation
  • 1. Advanced Management in Humanitarian Action

    The objective of this course is to provide in-depth understanding of humanitarian management and expand on its moral and operational aspirations, complexities and realities. This will be approached through a series of 5 workshops on the following interlinked topics:
    1. Security Management 
    2. Information management hard and soft
    3. Legal liability and duty of care
    4. Contractors and partners
    5. HR in emergencies 

    These topical lances will enable students to explore management across the different humanitarian levels from the wider eco system, through the organizations, the teams, the individuals, the people in need and, the different other stakeholder groups
  • 2. Advanced Research Methods for Humanitarian Action

    Since the last decades, the humanitarian ecosystem has seen an increased call for actions to be based on “evidence”.  Research activities have a long history in humanitarian action aiming both at improving practice but also at strengthening advocacy campaigns. The relevance of research in humanitarian action is even more visible today as humanitarian organizations are developing their own research centres and departments and as humanitarian action has become a research topic in a large number of disciplinary fields. In this context, the aim of this module is to equip students with the competences (knowledge and skills) to carry out rigorous research.  At the end of the module students will be able to:
    - Design and plan a research project in a rigorous way;
    - Master the basics of diverse data collection and analysis tools (both quantitative and qualitative); 
    - Understand the ethical requirements of research applied to humanitarian action.

    The course is structured into two parts: the first one introducing students to the basics of research design and management in humanitarian contexts, the second one training students in various qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis tools. 
  • 3. Context and Stakeholder Analysis

    A key specificity of humanitarian lies in the contexts in which it takes place. Crisis contexts are, by essence multi-faceted and volatile environments. Contemporary humanitarian action mostly takes place in complex crisis involving a combination of political instability, conflict and violence, social inequities and underlying poverty. Humanitarian actors need also to cope with the impacts of new challenges and trends such as climate-change, rapid urbanization, the assertion of state sovereignty and the localization agenda. This is why, before any action can be taken, one needs to understand the context into which an organization inserts itself as well as the interactions between the diverse stakeholders of the humanitarian field. These interactions can be beneficial, neutral or hostile to the humanitarian organization one represents.
    This core module gives an introduction into context analysis and stakeholder analysis. Its aim is to provide the students with (1) the understanding of the foundations and importance of context and stakeholder analysis in humanitarian action; (2) the competences to properly design and execute context and stakeholder analysis in humanitarian projects as well as with (2) the skill necessary to conduct both quick and in-depth assessments.
  • 4. Humanitarian Supply Chain Management

    Any relief effort involves substantial mobilization and deployment of material, human and financial resources, relying to a large extent on effective and efficient supply chain management (SCM). In the basic sense, SCM strives to deliver the right product, to the right customer, at the right time, at the right place, in the right condition, in the right quantity, and at the right cost. This enables the support of goals and/ or missions (effectiveness) at minimum cost (efficiency), while being prepared for disruptions and geared towards quickly restoring operations (resilience). However, the aid sector is often regarded as out of touch with current commercial SCM practices, regarding SCM as a necessary expense rather than a core strategic function. Many of the problems faced in humanitarian SCM today are addressed by existing frameworks and have been studied successfully in the commercial setting, offering considerable opportunities for adaptation.
    This core module introduces the students to the basics of (humanitarian) SCM. It aims to provide students (1) with the understanding of the importance of humanitarian supply chain management and (2) with the skills necessary to conduct a basic network design analysis.
  • 5. Evidence Based Programming

    This course aims to help students develop insights and skills in designing evidence-based meaningful humanitarian interventions that are embedded in a thorough quality assurance framework.  A thorough needs and capacity assessment is prerequisite to arrive at meaningful interventions. In this course, students will thus be introduced to and practice with ways to make the step from assessing and analysing humanitarian information towards designing a relevant and high-quality humanitarian intervention (i.e. a humanitarian aid project or program).
  • 6. NOHA Comprehensive Reflective Simulation

    This course incorporates elements of the whole NOHA program allowing students to apply and challenge the concepts and tools learned. For example, conducting assessments, programming activities, accessing funding, establishing workable forms of intra- and inter-agency cooperation at various levels, and anticipating and responding to uncertain and changing circumstances, will all be elements in the exercise.
    The course lasts for over 3 full days, and its progress is to some extent dynamic as individual, organizational and inter-organizational interactions depend on how participants act. However, certain learning objectives are expected to be met, and specific event are designed to highlight certain learning objectives.
    The Simulation’s aim is to understand that inter and intra organizational coordination is a factor that can determine success or failure of humanitarian response and the necessity to deepen the knowledge and confidence in coordination concepts; to build and exercise executing relevant coordination procedures and processes and; practice decision-making in complex and dynamic environments involving conflict.
    During the simulation these are to be performed at the:
    •        Organizational level implementing inter-organizational coordination and by this revealing deficiencies and gaps in response and planning and improving organizational coordination;
    •        Team level practicing management challenges such as delegation and information management, clarifying roles and responsibilities
    •        Individual level challenge existing assumptions and provide opportunity to put into practice and refresh knowledge as well as strengthen the confidence in operational skills.

Last updated: 22 October 2019

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