By Do Van Khai, Muong Te District Red Cross Chapter.
In mid-March 2019, a workshop about Sphere project minimum standards for humanitarian response was hosted by Vietnam’s NGO Disaster Management working group (DMWG), its Disaster Management Policy and Technology Center (DMPTC) and the CWS team in Hanoi. The aim of the gathering was helping participants heighten their awareness and deepen their understanding of Sphere standards: their purposes and their usefulness in unique contexts around Vietnam. This aim was set to reflect the profiles of the 35 participants, most of whom were junior non-government and government humanitarian response staff with no or limited knowledge about Sphere. One CWS local partner, Do Van Khai, who heads the Vietnam Red Cross Chapter in Muong Te district, has shared his reflection about the workshop.
“The lively, open and sharing atmosphere was maintained from the first day to the last. All days were good; and, I was most impressed with the last day, which interested and inspired me. The day was started with a presentation Core Humanitarian Standards followed by a technical session on emergency shelter. The day ended with an analysis and discussion about non-food items.
The shelter session was led by Mr. Tao, a former Red Cross movement staff member. He drew great attention from all of us. We divided ourselves into four groups to work on designing a shelter area for 20,000 people affected by a natural disaster. All skills – reading, remembering, calculating, applying and referencing the Sphere Handbook – were used by all group members. All design questions, such as where the shelter should be situated, where are the roads, what is the layout, where will the latrines and water supply points be, and what about the clinics or schools?
Everything was put on the table for discussion with reference to Sphere minimum standards. For a while, it seemed there would be no end to our sharing and explaining and discussing. But, in the end, though the session went over time and continued after lunch, all were satisfied with the results, which were all based on using Sphere standards adapted to the situation. The later afternoon session about non-food items continued with the same atmosphere and pace. Again, Sphere minimum standards were explained, practical experience shared, and another situational assignment was put forward for discussion.
Having been involved in humanitarian activities with the Muong Te District Red Cross Chapter for quite a long time, I still found this Sphere workshop to be [of great value], especially because of the facilitators’ knowledge, experience and skills in mobilizing our participation. And, although three days is not enough to cover every topic we wanted to cover, the workshop gave me a chance to increase my own knowledge and share my experiences. My bus journey back to Muong Te was nearly 600 kilometers (375 miles) and took 14 hours. But it seemed shorter with so many good memories to ponder”.
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