Abu Dhabi, 12 January 2010: Senior managers and operational staff of leading UAE-based humanitarian organizations addressed key issues in the effective management of emergency situations, including Disaster Preparedness, Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, Shelter and Settlement issues, as well as the provision of Non-Food-Items to people stranded in disaster situations, during a three-day workshop organized by the UAE Office for the Coordination of Foreign Aid (OCFA). The workshop was successfully concluded today at Al Raha Beach Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
The workshop “An Introduction to Sphere: Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response” was held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region and President of OCFA. The course was lead by Sphere-certified trainers Moustafa Osman – a lecturer of Disaster Management at Birmingham University, a humanitarian relief and development professional, and a trainer an independent consultant to the UN and other humanitarian agencies; and Khaled Khalifa – head of the United Nation's IRIN News Bureau covering Asia and the Middle East, and a professional aid worker for more than 12 years.
“We were extremely pleased with the level of participation from local organizations at the training workshop. The Sphere Workshop fulfilled two key OCFA objectives – it provided a platform to strengthen ties between international and local aid organizations, as well as presented a valuable opportunity for the transfer of knowledge and skills to take place,” said Sultan Al Shamsi, Executive Director of OCFA. “The sessions conducted touched on several pertinent issues that aid and relief workers regularly deal with, and we are heartened to see that participants found them informative and highly beneficial from a practical standpoint,” he added.
On the opening day, participants were offered an introduction to the Sphere Project, the goals, expectations and motivations for the workshop, as well as the International Humanitarian Law and the Code of Conduct on which the Sphere Project’s work is based. Day two and three of the workshop saw informative sessions conducted on logistics and resource management in disaster situations, as well as the application of Sphere’s Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response. The workshop closed with an interactive group discussion, evaluation of the workshop’s objectives, and the handing out of certificates of participation to attendees.
The workshop was attended by 24 participants from 13 different donor organizations from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman and Fujairah, including local organizations involved in delivering aid relief and conducting emergency operations. Organizations included the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Presidential Affairs, UAE Armed Forces, Diwan of the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region, Dubai Police, Department of Islamic and Charitable Affairs in Dubai, the Critical National Infrastructure Authority, Khalifa Bin Zayed Foundation, Zayed Bin Sultan Foundation, Dubai Cares, Dubai Charity Association, Human Appeal, and Fujairah Welfare Association.
Commenting on the training workshop, a participant from the Khalifa Bin Zayed Foundation said: “The training proved to be a highly beneficial exercise. We discussed in detail Sphere’s Minimum Standards of Humanitarian Response which clearly outline the best practice to adopt in terms of international aid work, planning humanitarian relief operations and the utilization of resources in these situations. The guidelines are a valuable reference tool for the minimum standards we should follow in providing humanitarian aid and emergency relief.”
Anas Bukhash, Country Program Manager at Dubai Cares, said: “These minimum standards possess the potential to have a huge positive impact if they were to be applied both theoretically and practically in our projects. Sphere’s Minimum Standards help us at the crucial planning stage of these operations and will prove extremely useful in the effective provision of humanitarian aid and relief in crises situations.”
The Sphere Project is a unique voluntary initiative reflecting the collective will and shared experience of a broad array of humanitarian actors that is dedicated to improving the quality of assistance to people affected by disaster, and improving the accountability of states and humanitarian agencies to their constituents, donors and the affected populations.
OCFA was set up by UAE Cabinet decree no. 36 for the year 2008 and has been operational since early 2009 to help UAE foreign aid donors improve delivery of humanitarian and development programmes worldwide. With HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, presiding as the office’s President, OCFA is assessing foreign aid donor needs; providing appropriate training programmes and knowledge transfers; and, building and strengthening ties between the UAE foreign aid sector and the international aid community by providing multiple platforms that bring international and local aid organizations together.
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