AUB’s GHI responds to the region’s protracted crises with first consultation on humanitarian learning

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In response to the complexity of crises in the MENA region and the need for greater connectedness between institutions and initiatives in the MENA region, the Global Health Institute (GHI) at AUB organized and hosted the “First Regional Consultation on Humanitarian Learning” with the aim of strengthening the region’s humanitarian learning efforts and identifying the learning needs of humanitarian practitioners. 

Coordinated by the newly established Humanitarian Unit (HU) at GHI, this consultation was the first of its kind in the region, engaging an academic institution and regional humanitarian organizations to advance the humanitarian learning field. It brought together diverse humanitarian practitioners from various sectors and countries, including Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, and Yemen.

The HU is currently working on the contextualization of essential humanitarian capacity-building tools and programs. One of its major objectives is to create a new boundary-crossing humanitarian hub that hosts, supports and shares innovative humanitarian initiatives. 

 “With its expertise, and strong network and reputation in the region, the Humanitarian Unit within AUB’s Global Health Institute has the potential to support substantially in strengthening learning practices in the sector—particularly through working in collaboration with humanitarian workers on the ground to identify gaps in knowledge and practice, and to develop innovative approaches to learning,” said Fay Mahdi, a humanitarian learning specialist. 

Despite the presence of many capacity-building initiatives, the humanitarian learning sector still lacks the professional development architecture in the MENA region. There is still a clear need for contextualized standards for workplace learning and development in the region. The consultation was organized to tackle the complexity of the humanitarian disasters in the MENA region and their recurrent long-term effect, which demand a more flexible and contextualized humanitarian response.

The participants represented several humanitarian agencies working in the region, including Danish Refugee Council (DRC), Disaster Management Advisory Group (DMAG), International Committee of Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC), International Medical Corps (IMC), Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO), Lebanese Red Cross (LRC), Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), Unite Lebanon Youth Project (ULYP), and UNHCR.

“It has been so encouraging to see such a strong engagement from all participants and the variety of approaches used in each country,” said Ms. Rouba Khwadna from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC). “It was a great opportunity to share our experiences in the contextualization process,” she added. 

The meeting comprised a series of working groups and discussions on the learning personas of humanitarian practitioners in the region, the learning needs of humanitarian managers, and the contextualization of humanitarian knowledge. 

“The Regional Humanitarian Committee that will be established by GHI is an essential step towards a new boundary-crossing humanitarian advancement and development in the MENA region,” said Dr. Mustafa Ahmed Rashid Kailany from the International Medical Corps (IMC) in Iraq.

One of the major outputs of the consultation was the development of a Terms of Reference (TORs) for the Regional Humanitarian Learning Advisory Committee that will act as a supporting arm for the development of Arabized and contextualized programs and tools for the region. The outputs of the consultation will feed into the contextualization framework that is being developed by the Humanitarian Unit at GHI. This framework will facilitate the localization of existing educational material. 

GHI addresses global health challenges with a focus of context-specific issues and sustainable impact by employing an interdisciplinary approach. It is part of AUB’s Health 2025 Vision, which aims to strategically and functionally align the health portfolio at AUB to better serve the health needs of the population in the MENA region, the Global South, and beyond.