Rapid Response Team (RRT): A scalable initiative of Christian Aid in-line with ‘Localization’ agenda in Bangladesh.

Project: Shifting The Power 26th September 2017

Human Resource is the most important and a fundamental part of the humanitarian action. An organization is nothing but some staff and their capacity and commitment towards its vision, mission, policy-procedure and principles. The staffs with relevant knowledge, skill and commitment are the keys to a competent organization. Thus, the superiority of a humanitarian organization can be acknowledged with the human resources and their capacities relevant to the humanitarian actions.

In each phase of the emergency management cycle, different skills are required for a range of activities, from preparedness to relief and recovery. Capacity Strengthening initiatives are essential to ensure that professional staff and volunteers have the skills and awareness necessary for pre and post-disaster phases. It is important that correct human resources procedures, including recruitment procedures, contracts, job descriptions, disciplinary procedures and benefits are correctly applied. These human resource capacity strengthening and management procedures should be an established procedure within the organization, so that they may be rapidly applied in an emergency.

Shifting the Power, a START Network project which is part of the Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP) funded by DFID aims to ensure effective humanitarian response through the humanitarian capacity strengthening of local and national NGOs. In line with the global agenda of ‘Localization’, this project also brings a perspective of INGOs walking the talk in ensuring localization agenda.

In Bangladesh 6 INGO (ActionAid, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide Oxfam and Tearfund) consortium members and their 11 local/national partner organizations are actively involved in this initiative of shifting the power to the local actors. The initiative is being led by Christian Aid. All the INGO consortium members were involved in facilitating the process of their partner’s self-assessment of humanitarian capacities and have supported to develop Capacity Strengthening Plan accordingly.

In this project, humanitarian capacity strengthening is being defined as an organic journey of different organizations and diversified actors. National and local civil society actors are the closest responders of a community affected by the humanitarian crisis. This project is strengthening their capacities at three levels; Organizational Foundations; Humanitarian Capacities; and Power, which basically covers 360-degree areas of an organization, starting from setting up the humanitarian vision & mission to human resources development. Along with humanitarian strategy, policy procedure etc. in place; the project has strengthened humanitarian capacities of 1,323 staff of 11 local and national organizations with new knowledge and skills for humanitarian actions so far, where 43% are female.

Formation of a Rapid Response Team (RRT) in each organization was one of the important capacity strengthening interventions of this project. The objective of this intervention is to equip the humanitarian organization with a ready ‘rapid response team’ with relevant skills and knowledge; the members of which will be ready to be deployed within 24 hours of a disaster hit in Bangladesh or outside Bangladesh, based on their willingness and agreement with the respective organization. The team mostly comprises the young frontline staff to mid-level staff but also adds the experienced senior staff. The purpose of the Rapid Response Team (RRT) is to support the senior management staff to take the informed decision within a possible shorter time of a disaster hit.

A Bangla poem cites “It is the perfect age for a young to join a war”. In this case, the civil society young staff will not join a war against the human being but to protect them fighting the natural or manmade humanitarian crisis. The young staffs are being supported through ‘coaching’ by the senior staff of the same organization or from the INGO consortium partner staff. Their capacities are being strengthened by engaging them in real time crisis, which is a most powerful capacity strengthening method called “on the job training”. Moreover, one-off training, online training, simulation etc. are the methods being used for their capacity strengthening.

A devastating early flash flood broke out this season in Haor (Low lying North East part of Bangladesh). All seven Haor districts have been affected. Boro rice- the main crop of this single cropped region – has catastrophically been damaged; a 90% damage been reported at many places. Government estimates 371,381 hectares of rice has damaged. A Needs Assessment has been conducted comprising the Rapid Response Team (RRT) members of 5 national and local organizations immediately after the disaster hit. The objective of this assessment was two-fold, firstly, to engage the RRT members within learning process on the practical needs assessment and secondly, to summarize real-time impact, needs & vulnerability of the community and communicating these with the wider audience. The Rapid Response Team (RRT) comprises staffs from different sectors and some are totally newly being involved with this humanitarian sector. So, considering the safety and security of the team members, they have not been deployed to the filed within 24 hours of the flash flood hit, but they have done a quality ‘situation and needs assessment’ before the HCTT triggered and INGO led CNA(Coordinated Needs Assessment) has been taken place.

As a pilot process, the project has considered 10 staffs (50% female) from each organization. The organizations are based at different disaster prone areas of Bangladesh; Such as, flood prone, cyclone prone and urban disaster prone mega cities. And thus, 110 staffs are now ready to be deployed as a first responder to any humanitarian crisis. This intervention can be replicated within all local humanitarian organization of Bangladesh, but in that case a long-term and systematic investment is necessary. This investment can make the country fully equipped with a pool of skilled humanitarian human resources.
The success of the ‘Grand Bargain’ and ‘Localization’ would mostly depend on the capacity and commitment of the local actors. But yet there is no clear process or commitment for long-term investment, as outlined in the priorities of ‘Grand Bargain’.

DEPP is a huge investment on the ‘Localization’ agenda for a certain period, but the program has created a momentum for this organic and continuous journey. The withdrawal of the continuity of this program would lose the momentum before it clearly hands over to the local actors to steer the wheel.

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