Advanced Training Program on Humanitarian Action
The objective of the Advanced Training Program on Humanitarian Action (ATHA) is to enhance the capacity of relevant Swedish and international actors operating in humanitarian contexts to strengthen the respect for and knowledge about humanitarian action, including of International Humanitarian Law and Humanitarian Principles, and to create greater awareness and knowledge of the relationship between development cooperation and humanitarian action in complex emergencies, with a specific focus on prevention and recovery. The Program aims at supporting the professional development of participating practitioners and at building broader organizational capacity for their sending institutions, with the long term goal of strengthening the continued professionalization of actors working in humanitarian action.
ATHA is a joint initiative between the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at Harvard University (HPCR).
Overview and synthesis
Since the start of the Program in 2004, ATHA partners at Sida and Harvard have continuously developed their methodology of professional development, based on a combination and mutual reinforcement of (i) facilitated humanitarian trainings onsite, (ii) science-based independent research on key humanitarian challenges, and (iii) an online community platform for past and future training participants, practitioners and experts in humanitarian action.
In its ongoing project cycle from 2010-2013, ATHA’s core focus as led by the research program at Harvard lies on the management of humanitarian assistance (MHA). HPCR’s applied research projects on MHA emphasize in particular newly emerging and long-standing challenges and dilemmas around the transition from relief operations to development cooperation (and vice versa), as well as the various associated uncertainties humanitarian professionals face in the field. In 2011, this work will encompass onsite trainings, Harvard-based policy research, and the development of new online tools and platforms for humanitarian professionals and organizations.
ATHA professional development
ATHA offers its professional training on the Management of Humanitarian Assistance twice each calendar year, once in Spring and once in Autumn. Consisting of a three-day Core Training followed by a two-day Specialized Training, organizations and interested participants are recommended to consider them as a training package of together five days.
ATHA Core trainings provide professionals working in organizations involved in humanitarian assistance and other relevant transitional or fragile environments with a substantial and coherent training introducing core aspects, critical perspectives and strategic tools related to the effective planning and provision of assistance in humanitarian emergencies.
ATHA Specialized trainings provide for focused training and additional perspectives on particular issues, challenges or backgrounds, such as the role of international law in humanitarian action, the challenges involved for practitioners in transitional and early recovery processes, as well as on other areas of critical concern to the field. ATHA facilitators are established experts with leading institutions in academia and international agencies.
The ATHA curriculum covers critical legal, operational and policy aspects of humanitarian action, presented and discussed with recent examples and cases in humanitarian affairs. Session formats emphasize interactive discussion with expert facilitators and include presentations and case studies based on situations familiar to participants, simulation exercises and facilitated discussions in the group. Each training session is set up flexibly to also accommodate specific needs of training participants.
The ATHA target audience includes relevant Swedish and international organizations and actors on all levels working within a humanitarian context. The program aims at supporting the participating actors’ professional development and capacity on an organizational level, with the long term goal of strengthening the continued professionalization of actors working in humanitarian action.