Since 1997, Sphere Standards have guided humanitarian response globally. Updated and expanded standards published in 2018 spurred CWS to organize a workshop to update all staff, some of whom are new to humanitarian work and its high standards requirements. In all 14 humanitarian response professionals from CWS, other ACT Alliance Members and local non-government organizations joined,
Thura Aung, who is the Sphere Focal Person for Myanmar, facilitated the 3-day workshop. Key concepts covered in the first two days included ethical and legal frameworks for humanitarian action. Participants studied accountability standards for staff, donors and other stakeholders. Also discussed were threats and harm people experience during crisis responses, and ways of helping people recover from violations and harm. The workshop’s third day focused on putting standards in practice using scenarios. A Myanmar language translated copy of the 2011 standards served as a reference.
The workshop also highlighted new content and updates for the 2018 Standards. For example, cross-cutting themes have expanded. Inclusion criteria, including disability, health status, and gender identity persist throughout. Emerging use of cash as an assistance implementation option receives attention too.
Most participants had not studied the 2011 Standards, nor participated in related workshops. A few participants had attended prior workshop in English, but a draw for the CWS-hosted workshop was Myanmar language use.
Participants rated the workshop an average 3.5 stars out of 5. Seven people recommended the workshop with “great enthusiasm” or “full enthusiasm”. Comments from the final, anonymous survey showed encouraging takeaways. One person wrote, “I [learned that I] could apply core principles…to enhance the quality and accountability of our programs”. Another stated, “If an emergency happens, [now] we…can calculate…materials [needed for distribution]”. Finally, one person suggested, “We should promote the standards more to other organizations…” CWS plans to sponsor the same workshop for village volunteers in Maubin next year so they can learn too, and we can partner better in the face of future disasters, which surely will happen.
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