Humanitarian development programmes Africa 2013

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Publication Date: 
22 March 2013
University of Witwatersrand, Graduate School of Public and Development Management

The University of Witwatersrand, Graduate School of Public and Development Management humanitarian development programmes, Africa 2013. offered in collaboration with Medicins sans Frontieres/Doctors without Borders and The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Humanitarian policies and practices have undergone significant transformation in the latter part of the 20th century. The economic, social and political context within which emergencies unfold are more complex, producing multi-dimensioned emergency environments, with blurred lines between military and humanitarian and development interventions. New perspective and theories have emerged that seek to link initial response to longer term development and incorporate, amongst others, critical aspects of security, gender, sustainability and protection.

Minimum standards and codes of conduct have emerged alongside the development of international treaties and laws that set out the rights of those impacted by emergencies. Whilst these instruments seek to protect those who find themselves in emergency humanitarian situations, they also cast a spotlight on accountability for those who deliver humanitarian aid. The number and diversity of actors involved in a major emergency response has grown significantly and encompasses organs of state, UN agencies, international and local NGOs and the private sector. While there is tacit acknowledgment that collaboration and coordination is key to effective humanitarian programmes, the growing complexity of actors within the humanitarian arena has made this an increasingly challenging task. The modern humanitarian professional, be she a frontline aid worker or senior level manager has to grapple with and synthesise complexities across different governance and intervention spheres.

The University of the Witwatersrand’s Graduate School of Public and Development Management’s offers two stand-alone competence certificates, which when combined, are designed to equip the 21st century emergency, humanitarian and development worker with the skills and analytical capacity to engage effectively within this challenging sector. Participants who complete both courses have an option of sitting for an examination with the Liverpool of School of Tropical Medicine for the award of a professional Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance.

The programmes will:

  • Provide participants with the awareness, understanding and skills essential for effective action as individuals and as members of a team.
  • Identify and promote standards of good practice in humanitarian and emergency responses.
  • Encourage cooperation and dialogue between governmental, non-governmental, national and international agencies involved in response action.
  • Examine strategies for early warning and prevention of humanitarian crises.
  • Create a more effective synergy between emergency humanitarian interventions and programmes promoting sustainable development.
  • Address humanitarian priorities across Africa and build a professional practice.

The programmes are designed for practitioners and policy-makers such as government staff, NGO workers, staff of multilateral agencies such as the UN, the media, civil society, donors and persons wishing to enter the humanitarian field.

Humanitarian Policy maps and interrogates the contextual, conceptual and institutional frameworks surrounding humanitarianism in the 21st century and analyses the challenges inherent in responding to a rapidly changing and highly political global arena, with a strong focus on the African continent. 

  1. Humanitarian Practice and Development analyses historic and current humanitarian theories and perspectives, as a basis for building a critical policy perspective on the political economy of humanitarian assistance. It interrogates the relevance of specific humanitarian principles in the context of the politicization of aid, shrinking humanitarian space and an emergency-development divide. Participants will develop an understanding of the factors that will shape humanitarian action and will be able to identify appropriate policy responses. 
  2. Emergency Response and Sustainability in Africa critically examines humanitarian responses in Africa, the unique challenges faced and the complexities embodied in historic and unfolding interventions. It incorporates an examination of instruments and mechanisms for protection and interrogates the current security-development nexus, particularly in relation to conflict resolution, reconstruction, and the blurring military-humanitarian lines. Participants will be able to shape, negotiate and design broad strategic emergency response interventions.   
  3. Humanitarian Policy and the Institutional Environment explores the relevance, impact and influence of multilateral instruments and institutions on national and local level humanitarian, disaster or emergency action. It incorporates an examination of the relevance and challenges embodied in humanitarian, displacement and refugee laws and related instruments. It explores the institutional, coordinative, accountability and communication challenges that emerge within a crisis situation. Participants will be able to ensure that laws and codes are upheld at the local level and hence ensure accountability and responsible action within the response space. 

Humanitarian Practice equips professionals with the skills and appropriate behaviour - incorporating analytical awareness and an appreciation of humanitarian complexities from the previous module - to manage and carry out effective, smart and accountable humanitarian operations.

  1. Priorities in Emergency Response focuses on practical planning and management of the operational process in emergencies, recognising the importance of establishing priorities based on the actual needs of those affected. Emphasis is placed on leadership and management for humanitarian action, including project management, communications, financial and human resources management and monitoring and evaluation. Finally, the module covers an essential overview of public health in the context of mass displacement and inadequate health services. 
  2. Specialist Electiveenables participants to choose one of the following modules running in parallel: 
    1. Health Management in Emergencies introduces participants to evidence-based practice approaches to managing healthcare, applying a development and disaster lens. It deals with the fundamentals of disease control, environmental health and hygiene promotion, HIV/AIDS and TB.
    2. Water, sanitation and logistics management in emergencies explores the continuum from disaster to development, where technical responses need to not just respond to immediate needs, but also be cognisant of the post‐disaster context which requires sustainable responses. The module develops students’ knowledge of a range of technical interventions for emergency, post‐disaster and developmental contexts.
  3. Applied Humanitarian Operations Management takes participants through an intensive simulation allowing them to practically apply the knowledge and skills gained through previous modules and to appraise their behaviour in a high-stress environment. A full debriefing will ensure consolidation of experiences collective and individual.

Please call Thandiwe Mlangeni on +27(0)11 7173505 or email

For further information and application forms go to: