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close this bookGuide to Developing Training Strategies (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 55 p.)
close this folder7. Sustainability of training programmes
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View the document7.1 Institutional Base for Training:


Many training efforts are begun without any reason, continue with no purpose, and end in no results

McGehee and Thayer

A far reaching training programme can start in many ways. It can evolve from a humble beginning such as: a modest skill development or an enthusiastic staff meeting in a ministry department. It can also develop out of a high level commitment such as receiving EEC funds for setting up a disaster training centre. Either way, there is unfortunately no formula for success in rapid development and implementation of a comprehensive programme to address the widest training needs.

Continuity in training is a three-stage process of learning, practising and reviewing performance. For most training programmes this process is possible only if there are further targets to aim for. Such goals might include reaching out to other groups in areas where training is needed or updating skills and knowledge. These targets must reflect ‘real’ needs and must be based on realistic levels of expectation rather than aiming for further training activities per se.

While there may be a desire to continue training without a need or a purpose, the common attitude for institutions and individuals is to stop the process after a few training activities.


Some of the reasons could be:

· the initial training activities were carried out for the wrong reasons, by the wrong institution or people and were done badly

· motivation is lacking

· opportunity to continue is not available (e.g. lack of resources, leadership)

· antagonism or refusal by various parties to continue

· there is no visible improvement as a result of the training

· the process itself stops (possibly due to political, administrative reasons)

· training is viewed as distracting to the objective at hand, which is to get on with the work

· there are other, higher priority pressures for time, resources, etc.

· the expectations from continuing are not clearly understood or accepted

· institutions or individuals decide they have reached their peak

To put in positive terms continuity and sustainability of training depends on:

· commitment to the idea
· wide net of support
· good leadership
· continuity of financial and political support
· collaboration amongst various institution
· experienced training staff
· indigenous resource people
· improved performance due to training
· success stories that can be publicised and duplicated
· tangible results
· proved need for training

7.1 Institutional Base for Training:

Disaster management training, like any other form of continuing education, is an ongoing process. Officials move on to new appointments; others taking their places need to be trained. Trainers themselves have to be kept up to date, to refresh their knowledge, lest they become out of touch with realities of disaster and their teaching becomes ‘remote and irrelevant’. Ad hoc programmes lack continuity, have no institutional memory and are denied the security of ongoing budgetary provisions.

Brian Ward

Many training programmes are initiated by a whole group of enthusiastic and concerned individuals, if not by one energetic person. Often, the institutional base for training is established after a few ad hoc workshops. The continuity of these programmes, however, depends upon rapid institutionalisation of training.

There can be different ‘homes’ for training. The appropriate option will vary from country to country, organisation to organisation, depending upon the existing organisational structure of disaster management, availability of resources etc. The possible options can be broadly classified into three approaches:

· Centralised
· De-centralised
· Distributed

Centralised - This approach involves a central ‘unit’ (e.g. ministry, department, training centre, training section) for NGO implementation of the training strategy, co-ordination and management of all training activities.

Training policy and approach are decided centrally and all training requirements are processed via this ‘unit’, even if the actual training is carried out locally or through ‘distant learning’. This approach enables the consistency and quality of training to be controlled, and ensures that all training is designed and produced using the appropriate methodologies.

De-centralised - This approach places training ‘units’ where they are needed (e.g. in line ministries, relevant departments, local offices, local Red Cross/Red Crescents) specific needs are met directly and ‘units’ provide the training resources. There can be a central policy ‘unit’ agreeing upon strategy and co-ordinating diverse training units. Alternatively, each ‘unit’ may have autonomy. In this approach, maintaining standards can be difficult. There is also a risk of effort being duplicated and deviations from the desired direction. On the other hand specific needs can be more appropriately met.

Distributed - The distributed approach combines the two previous approaches. A central ‘unit’ provides resources, co-ordination and management, which are consistent and of high quality. De-centralised ‘units’ decide on the training needs and implement programmes.

The following are the possible centralised, de-centralised and distributed institutional bases for national training:

One ministry/ department responsibility

· increases control through a central power
· reduces co-ordination time
· rapid decision making
· can create inter-ministerial friction
· may not safeguard ‘sense of belonging’ to the programme amongst all parties

(Example: Federal Emergency Management Agency, USA)

Specialised training centre (as a separate entity; within a ministry or a department)

· can be effective in countries of frequent disaster event
· can develop training skills, train trainers as an integral part of its responsibilities
· if a separate entity, can be above internal politics
· creates institutional memory more easily
· may not have decision-making powers

(Examples: Natural Disaster Training Centre [AFEM] within the Ministry of Public Works and Resettlement, Turkey; Australian Counter Disaster College; Indonesian Disaster Management Centre)

Existing training centre(s) extending responsibility

· can be effective in countries of less frequent disaster event
· benefits from an existing training expertise
· benefits from the existing administrative experience
· shares resources, therefore can be run cheaply
· provides in-house, experienced organisers for training
· might have regional branches to duplicate programmes
· may not have decision-making powers

(Example: SENA regional, vocational training centres in Colombia)

Interdepartmental/interministerial training committee

· reduces friction amongst various ministries and departments
· increases participation in the programmes
· covers decision-making and programme implementation under the same umbrella
· provides better financial and human resources
· provides a multidisciplinary approach
· co-ordination may become a problem
· lines of responsibility may not be clear
· administrative problems may get into the way of the actual training

(Example: Philippines programme, see the Appendix for details)

Consortium of representatives from ministries, agencies, academia, local authorities etc.

· provides wider representation
· creates a ‘sense of belonging’
· increases participation in the programme
· provides better financial and human resources
· helps to establish disaster management networking
· avoids duplication of efforts
· can create conflict of training priorities
· decision-making can be problematic
· co-ordination and administration can be time consuming
· line of responsibilities can be unclear

In some situations more than one model might be operating simultaneously. For example, training decisions can be taken by a ‘consortium’ or a ‘committee’ but the implementation of training can be carried out by one ministry or a specialised training centre.

Insofar as the broader training is concerned with service to staff colleges, public administration and management schools, relevant higher education institutes can provide, at a small cost, an appropriate arena where the idea of disaster management can be promoted. This idea has been put forward several times (UNDRO [1975], Ritchie [1976] and Ward [1990]) but it has yet to be taken on by national governments.

The role of international and regionally based centres can also be crucial in initiating and supporting national programmes by:

· training the cadre of national resource staff
· establishing an international forum to promote disaster management networking
· providing assistance in developing and sustaining national programmes

Already, the ADPC in Bangkok and CARICOM in the Caribbean are successfully serving their regions.

Some of the options for an institutional base in training have been operational. There can be lessons to learn from their experiences but there is no formula for establishing a training base. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. The appropriate approach should be to identify the system which:

· satisfies the objectives in the best manner
· creates co-operation among the agents of disaster management
· increases commitment by all parties
· reduces political friction
· guarantees better financial and human resource input
· is sustainable over a long period of time
· safeguards practical/operational links with various levels (national, local and international)