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Staff Development and Learning Section

The Staff Development and Learning Project (SDL) aims to strengthen the capacity of OCHA staff at headquarters and in the field in their mission to carry out effective and accountable humanitarian response coordination. Through the design, development and implementation of specific training programmes, and by disseminating information on various training opportunities, the project aims to enhance and support the continuous learning and improved competencies of OCHA staff.

Key objectives

  • Continue the implementation of Emergency Field Coordination Training (EFCT)
  • Introduce an induction programme for new OCHA staff
  • Continue with the implementation of the training management system to centralise all trainingrelated information
  • Establish a training course to address the well-being and security of staff

OCHA’s prime focus for the first four months of 2005 was on activities to support the countries affected by the tsunami, and resource people were unavailable for consultation on the development of new training programmes. The section’s activities were also modified to provide input and support to such priorities as the HCs Training and Retreat.

Staff Development and Learning Policies and Guidelines were finalised in 2005, and circulated to OCHA management and staff, as SDL strove to support a culture of organisational learning and to establish systems and procedures to promote transparency, accountability and equitable learning opportunities. These documents outlined principles for effective learning, provided guidance on how to ensure fair and equitable learning opportunities for all staff, and clarified training application procedures, endorsement routines and a post-training reporting system.

A workshop was held in Geneva for OCHA administrative officers with the aim of creating institutional learning and documenting best practices in administration and finance. As a result, the administrative manual was revised and complemented with additional tools and procedures to facilitate and standardise the operational, logistical, financial and administrative procedures of field offices.

SDL launched the development of the OCHA orientation CD-ROM in the autumn. In consultation with OCHA subject-matter experts, its objectives and content were defined and the first set of storyboards developed. The CD-ROM and a standardised briefing procedure are set to be introduced in June 2006.

The Training Management System was kept updated and captured the training activities of staff, offices and branches in 2005. The system tracked that a total of 597 OCHA staff took part in various training activities during the year: 45 percent participated in training courses organised by OCHA, 18 percent attended external training programmes, 17 percent benefited from training organised by other UN Agencies and collaborating partners, 13 percent attended UNOG and OHRM courses, and seven percent followed programmes funded through OHRM Training Funds. Women staff accounted for 49 percent of participants and 54 percent were from field offices.

Three Emergency Field Coordination Training workshops, with content modified slightly to adjust to the needs of staff members and a changing environment, were organised in 2005 in Switzerland. A total of 80 staff from OCHA and IASC partners participated, which was broadly in line with numbers in previous years. Field staff, both national and international, accounted for 58 percent of participants, headquarters staff for 11 percent and IASC for 31 percent.

SDL also organised a number of other ad hoc training courses to address the needs of OCHA staff, such as a two-day training session on natural disasters for Geneva desk officers and information sessions on HIV/AIDS.

SDL provided technical assistance to the United Nations System Staff College on the development of its humanitarian programme, and collaborated on the IASC Task Force on Training on the design of the Emergency Team Leadership Programme.

Performance evaluation
Formative and summative evaluations were used to continuously scrutinise the content and outcomes of the Emergency Field Coordination Training and make necessary adjustments. The three EFCTs held in 2005 rated 4.4, 4.0 and 4.6 respectively on a scale of 1-5.

A Training Impact Assessment conducted by the Evaluation and Studies Unit two to six months after the training sessions found that EFCT had been successful in building upon individual knowledge, skills and attitudes for effective inter-agency humanitarian coordination, as well as helping participants understand perspectives and identify and apply tools, techniques and approaches to coordination. The assessment also confirmed that fulfilment of the course objectives contributed to the EFCT’s goal of “improving the ability of participants to facilitate effective humanitarian assistance” and, in turn, OCHA’s fulfilment of its mandate and mission.

The Training Management System allowed OCHA to ensure more equitable and relevant training opportunities for all staff. Of the 597 training sessions for OCHA staff recorded by SDL in 2005, 293 were by male staff members and 304 female, with 273 from headquarters and 324 from the field. Some staff members also attended outside training events. Information on the effectiveness and impact of the other training courses that staff attended, organised by other sections of the organisation or externally is not available to the Staff Development and Learning Project.

No new staff member received a standardised induction in 2005 because its development only began in the autumn, mostly as a result of OCHA priorities and resources being focused on the tsunami for much of 2005 so that few subject matter experts were available for earlier in the year.

Likewise, SDL was unable to develop a training course to enhance the well-being and security of staff, or complete the development and implementation of the OCHA Orientation CD-ROM, within the expected timeframe due to the tsunami response. The Orientation CD-ROM and a standardised briefing procedure are set to be introduced in June 2006.




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