What people often mean by getting rid of conflict is getting
rid of diversity and it is of importance that these should not be considered the
same. We may wish to abolish conflict but we can not get rid of diversity.
Mary Parker Follett.
As stressed in the previous sections, disaster management, due
to its complex nature, is primarily a team operation. Individual skills, expert
knowledge and attitudes of disaster managers are fundamental to successful
handling of all stages of the disaster continuum. However, the capacity of all
the actors of disaster management to act in a co-ordinated manner is ultimately
the key to efficient and effective response.
Training in disaster management aims to improve both individual
and team performance. Furthermore, it aims to create a medium where sectoral
capacities can be enhanced and intersectoral relationships can be developed. An
ideal training programme balances individual needs and team tasks as well as
improving knowledge and its application. In reality, the expectations of groups
to be trained are varied if not in conflict with one another. A governmental
department with a high level of technical competence may regard skill
development an unnecessary exercise while a local development agency with
limited disaster experience can expect training to solve all their problems. It
is unrealistic to expect a single type of training to address all these issues.
A more realistic approach would be to view training as a series of complementary
activities to be implemented over a period of time. These activities should
clearly reflect the training needs of the target groups and the general
objectives drawn from their identified needs and expectations.
The process of setting planned training objectives should,
therefore, address the following issues before the objectives are decided upon:
· what are the
targets for change?
· who decides the
· what are the criteria for
selecting the objectives?
· what are the
What are the targets for change?
When the decision is made that training is necessary, the change
targets need to be set. These may include the organisation as a whole, the top
management as a unit or the various functional areas such as emergency relief,
technical assistance, logistics. In other words, the change targets may well be
differentiated by level or by function. There may be some common
objectives across all these targets, or the set of objectives for each may be
completely different There is nothing wrong with having only one change target
such as the organisation as a whole and one objective such as improving
co-ordination among various departments, or, with having many. It will depend on
the disaster management system and its needs.
The selected objectives should reflect the change targets and
the identified needs.
Who decides the objectives?
Most of the time, top management of the organisation or the unit
under consideration would like to have the last say. However, it is important
that both the top management and those to be trained are made aware of the
objectives and share the ideas even if the ultimate decisions might be made by
one person, perhaps by you alone.
The objectives need to be shared by all the parties involved in
What are the criteria for selecting the objectives?
Measurable - it is absolutely essential that one or more
clear measurement areas be applied to every objective selected., If this is not
done one will never know whether the objective is achieved! Such objectives as
improved communication can initially be stated as a general aim. If
not defined in training terms, however, they remain unachievable. Does one mean
more communication, regular meetings, communication downwards or across?
Measurement areas should define what exactly we do mean by a
certain objective. This may be best approached by asking the question: When we
have achieved the objective, exactly how will things be different?
Attainable - Often it takes a long time before it is
known that the objectives have been achieved. There may be several unanticipated
factors affecting their attainability which are often outside the training
domain. By investigating the necessary conditions to achieve the set objectives,
better informed choices can be made. These conditions may be political,
financial, organisational, institutional or personal.
To give a few examples, ask the following questions: Is the
objective politically acceptable? Are the financial and human resources
available? Will there be any resistance? What kind? Is training alone sufficient
to bring about the desirable change?
Cost/benefits - In setting up specific objectives, a
question you will frequently be asked by the funders and the high management
levels will be the cost of achieving objectives. Training in disaster management
will be viewed by many as a waste of valuable resources that could have been
used in more visible areas. It will be difficult to quantify the direct benefits
likely to be achieved by training. In defining the objectives, highlight the key
result areas and the effect of improved performance on these areas.
Priority/sequence - When all objectives seem important
and urgent to achieve it is not an easy task to be selective. Available
resources and time, political and institutional climate influence the
prioritisation of the objectives. Some objectives have to be achieved before
others can be started. For example, without raising awareness of the importance
of mitigation it will not be possible to aim for technical training in
One rule of the thumb is not to start with the end-product; it
may be good to end with, but not to start Other things come first
What are the possible objectives?
Possible objectives can be many and varied. A comprehensive
working list can be a collection of objectives identified through needs
analysis, from a review of the past experiences/performances and future plans of
an organisation/unit However, time and resources, or staff interest and
participation may not always be available to launch an organised assessment.
Often training objectives are generated by one person - a top manager, head of a
unit a designated trainer or an outside consultant The critical point to
remember is that formulating a list of objectives can also become the process of
engaging the staff in the idea of training.
Put down as many objectives as you can and ask all involved
parties to contribute to a preliminary working list by agreeing, disagreeing and