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close this bookGuide to Developing Training Strategies (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 55 p.)
close this folder2. Objectives of training programmes
View the document(introduction...)
View the document2.1 General objectives of training programmes
View the document2.2 What resources are necessary to achieve the objectives?


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 objectives?
· what are the criteria for selecting the objectives?
· what are the possible objectives?

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 implementing them.

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 mitigation measures.

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 adding more objectives.

2.1 General objectives of training programmes

The general objectives of training in disaster management in a country or an organisation can be broadly classified as short-term and long-term. The short-term objective of training can be limited to the creation of an interest in the idea of training, and to begin to establish a dialogue amongst the various audiences.

These short-term (or immediate) objectives may include:

· raising awareness at the various levels - for example, national, regional and local levels on disaster management

· creating a platform for exchange of ideas, problems and sharing of experiences

· initiating co-ordination among ministries, agencies and organisations

· drawing attention of the public, media, decision-makers etc. to the relevance of disaster management training

· stimulating improved response to disaster events

· dealing with the most immediate needs and current problems. The long-term objectives, by definition, require sustainability of the programme over time and replicability in diverse sectors, levels or geographical areas. These objectives may include:

· providing continuous broad staff development on the theory and practice of disaster management

- sectoral training
- professional training
- resource staff training (training the trainers)

· facilitating abilities, roles and motivations

· facilitating regular exercising of the management process and preparedness plans to identify gaps and capabilities

· institutionalising training as an integral part of mitigation and preparedness programmes

· establishing regional links with countries of similar problems, and inter-agency training activities

· regional and national networking and co-operation to share resources and achievements

· creating learning organisations

2.2 What resources are necessary to achieve the objectives?

Developing realistic and achievable training objectives requires an understanding of the resources that are available or that can be created. Each objective has to be checked against what it involves to implement them. The most fundamental requirements are:

· financial support
· organisational capacities
· leadership capabilities
· qualified resource staff and an institutional base in training and disaster management
· appropriate teaching materials

Financial support - An organised training activity requires financial support for the trainers, participants, administration and management, training material, venue etc. Although support in training for disaster management is now more available than before it still has to compete with many other priority areas in a country or an organisation for resources. Initial financial support has been available for several programmes (e.g. Philippines case study in Appendix 2) from international agencies, donor countries and other sources. However, many such programmes may be unsuccessful because they lack internal financial (as well as other) commitments to training. In the long run, self-reliance should be envisaged as a programme objective. Thus, the priority for the international community should be to help strengthen national capabilities.

Integrating training into a wider disaster management package, such as part of a preparedness or mitigation plan, may also be more likely to attract funding, since the benefits will seem to be in more than one (and perhaps in more visible) areas. Another alternative might be to begin with a low budget and small-scale training. By setting an example of achieved improvement targets that can be publicised widely, it may be possible to move into full scale programmes.

Organisational capacities - A body or bodies need to create a small organisation to mount a training programme. If a number of Government Ministries or departments and sharing in the overall responsibility they may need to provide a secretariat to undertake the following tasks:

· identify trainees and trainers

· select a training venue

· organise work programme

· organise training materials

· acquire the necessary training equipment - photocopies/audio visual aids/reference books for participants, etc.

· build up a data - base of participants

The organisation needs several characteristics to act effectively:

· clear authority
· adequate resources
· agreed aims
· good leadership

Leadership capabilities - Many successful training activities result from committed and skilled leadership. This role may be undertaken by an individual, a group, a department, an organisation or an agency depending on the nature of objectives and, of course, on who is committed to them. Often the leadership may not come from the targeted change area. This may create conflict and a lack of commitment to the activity as an ‘outsider’ group, individual or an organisation claims responsibility to achieve the training objectives set for another group.

One alternative can be to start with activities where leadership is strong to set an example. A more laborious, but perhaps more successful way of achieving long-term objectives can be to team up individual groups, institutions or agencies with the leadership capability with those where this capacity is needed. Departing with the ‘leadership’ role to empower those others who ultimately will ‘own’ the training activities should be a programme objective.

Qualified resource staff and an institutional base - Training objectives are often set only by focusing upon what to train and who to train. The question of who trains comes into consideration after several decisions are taken and sometimes only when the actual programming of training begins.

Qualified resource staff are fundamental to all training activities whether it is on-the-job training or a comprehensive training programme. Often these training areas which need the most attention are the weakest in terms of qualified resource staff.

Several training programmes have in the past and still do rely heavily on international expertise, which is an expensive solution and creates dependency. Where resources are available, external expertise can be sought, especially on subjects which cannot be covered by in-house or in-country persons. Also, in situations where training is not envisaged as a continuous activity, external institutions and resource staff may be a more feasible alternative to creating an in-house capacity. National programmes in the long run, however, require availability of this capacity and an institutional base for training for self-reliance. It should be remembered that this may be a long process to achieve, as knowledgeable staff are not always good trainers and good trainers may not always be experienced in the disaster management field (see the Guidelines for Trainers Leading Disaster Management Workshops for the selection of trainers and training institutions). There may be a need for investing in training the trainers as a parallel activity.

One alternative might be to seek resource staff from ‘outside’ (regional, international or other organisations) to run training activities alongside the identified ‘internal’ resource staff. This will initiate training rapidly and support resource staff development Another alternative might be to begin with objectives where there are qualified resource people and gradually create capabilities. Supporting the training of resource staff should be a programme objective from the start

Appropriate training materials - While there is considerable accumulation of knowledge in the field of disaster management through research, very lime of it is put into a practical format. Sectoral material, such as in the health field, through PAHO and CRED publications are more readily available and a number of UNDRO publications and the University of Wisconsin self study course materials address more general disaster management issues. The current DMTP modules attempt to fill the gaps and will make the state of the art knowledge available in a practical format While these documents will be useful as general course material to begin with, each country or organisation eventually needs to adapt existing material, develop its own case studies, exercises etc. appropriate to its own needs.

One rule of the thumb to remember is that all training material should be as close to the needs, realities and level of the target group(s) as possible.


Review the fire topics listed above and relative to the available resources in your situation, which do you currently possess, which could you acquire and which would be very difficult to obtain? - Who could assist you in this task?