Bangladesh is one of the largest deltas in the world. Because of factors like its geographical location, flat and low-lying landscape, population density, poverty, illiteracy and lack of institutional setup, this is highly vulnerable to natural disasters. Bangladesh experiences different types of natural disasters almost every year because of the global warming as well as climate change impacts. Disasters such as floods/flash floods, cyclones and storm surges, salinity intrusion, extreme temperature and drought are common in this country. Above all, Bangladesh is at a greater risk of a major earthquake. However, not only in Bangladesh, the risk of disasters persists all over the world.
Every day, from the Middle East, to Indonesia, to the Democratic Republic of Congo, millions of people’s lives are torn apart by humanitarian disasters.The number of people affected by humanitarian crises across the world has almost doubled over the past decade. We’re now facing the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War. But, the humanitarian sector is not equipped to deal with this rising challenge. We don’t have sufficient skilled staff or resources to cope. Our top-down approach to emergency response – parachuting in overseas expertise and resources to fix the problem – is not enough. It’s too reactive, with too little emphasis on planning and preparation.
At the same time, we haven’t invested enough in the skills and learning of local people – those on the frontline when disaster strikes and best placed to respond in the critical first 72 hours when most lives are lost. It is time to give them the tools, skills and knowledge they need to respond quickly and effectively to crises in the countries where they live. This is what the new face of humanitarian response will look like. This is what the Humanitarian Leadership Academy (HLA) was created to bring about. Launched in March 2015, this ground-breaking initiative aims to give 120,000 humanitarians from over 50 countries access to learning platforms, enabling them to respond to emergencies in their own communities – saving lives, protecting and rebuilding livelihoods, getting children back into school, and helping to create more peaceful and prosperous societies. The Bangladesh Academy Centre started its journey in 2016, as part of the Academy’s global platform and network of humanitarian learning and knowledge. The first strategic plan of the Bangladesh Academy Centre is based on a three-year time-frame from 2017 to 2020. The Bangladesh Academy Centre will strengthen the HLA’s role by facilitating partnerships and collaborative opportunities, to help create a faster and more effective humanitarian response, with increased local participation and ownership in Bangladesh and South Asia.
In Bangladesh, the Academy Centre is hosted by BRAC, under a hosting-partnership agreement. Partnering with BRAC, the largest development organisation in the world, is a strategic choice. The experience and efficiency of BRAC will help the team to implement the strategy.Kaya is the HLA’s global learning platform that enables people to prepare for and respond to crises and allows for the exchange of humanitarian information and resources. It is preparing the next generation of humanitarians through ensuring that relevant humanitarian learning and knowledge are accessible to all. Its vision is taking shape. It has made outstanding progress since its launching, reaching thousands of people and laying down the foundations for a new model of humanitarian response.
A case study of Kaya will speak for itself. It is as follows: “Kaya has transformed my perspective of learning and sharing knowledge to others,” said by Mohaiminur Rahman, Coordinator of Climate Change and Disaster Resilience Program of Islamic Relief Bangladesh, and a Kaya user since 2016. He completed the course “Introduction to Core Humanitarian Standard” and received his first online certificate in January 2017.
He has now nearly completed the “Introduction to Child Protection” online course and is also studying the online courses, namely “Sphere for Managers” and “Module 1 – Humanitarian Context, System and Standards”, to develop his humanitarian knowledge and capacity furthermore. After the online training from Kaya, one of the visible impacts that Rahman experienced was being selected for the internal Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS) audit team as one of the vital members, while Islamic Relief Bangladesh (IRB) was planning for CHS audit for the first time in 2017. He was selected as one of the key informant and feedback provider to CHS audit. Nowadays, he is playing the role of one of the key trainers to train field staff on CHS. Rahman provided CHS training to all IRB country office staff and the field staff of Satkhira. Besides, IRB started mainstreaming CHS issues and adopted a strategy to incorporate CHS within program development, including humanitarian programs. CHS issues and content are now incorporated in the staff foundation training of all IRB projects.
Well, a constructive approach to learning produces varied and enriched learning opportunities. Kaya plays the role of a catalyst, bringing transformative change makers at the frontline and building leaders in the humanitarian sector. Many more such initiatives are needed in a disaster-prone country like Bangladesh.