PREP: OCHA Networks and Partners Learning Together


PREPLogoThe United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva is proud to announce that in 2016, IrishAid will host the first PREP Training Course, taking place from 24 to 29 January in Limerick. The Emergency Services Branch’s (ESB) Civil-Military Coordination Section (CMCS) is leading the design and delivery of the pilot course.  The course had 115 applications from UN staff, OCHA’s surge pools and Stand-By Partner Organizations. A selection had to be made so as to compose a group of 24 participants, representing a breadth of organizations and backgrounds.

PREP – why?

Hundreds of aid workers and governmental, civil defence and military staff get trained every year in technical training courses, offered by ESB. When revamping its training architecture, one of the key considerations for ESB was to seek ways to yet further increase the effectiveness of the way we respond to emergencies on the ground.

The guiding principle when creating the Preparedness and Response Effectiveness Programme (PREP) was to consolidate core learning into one course. By pulling together the core humanitarian component from the technical training courses together, the aim was to build a foundational learning programme for OCHA, its networks and partners.

For Mr. Rudolf Müller, Chief of ESB and Director a.i. of OCHA Geneva, “those who operate together must have the opportunity to learn together. Whether natural disasters or complex emergencies, all of them have demonstrated that OCHA is only as strong as its people. OCHA staff, networks and partners deploying to humanitarian crises require the right skills, knowledge and attitudes to perform as coordinators”.

Through PREP, OCHA staff and its partners will have the opportunity to learn together to acquire the skills and the knowledge for humanitarian action. A quick glance at PREP might suggest that it is exactly like the other top-quality training product OCHA delivers. Yet, a closer look at the entirety of the programme shows that PREP is actually the only core learning course and programme which is enabling interoperability at all levels.

Paraguay - OCHA - Rogerio Mobilia
Photo credit: OCHA

PREP’s four goals:

1. to positively influence other organizations to harmonize response mechanisms with internationally-agreed guidance.

2. to expand and cultivate networks of mutually supportive emergency managers and organizations at various levels.

3. to sensitize national actors on humanitarian action and the ESB tools and services that they can avail or request.

4. to develop and hone the expertise and versatility of staff from OCHA and partner organizations.

In a nutshell…

PREP means core learning. With the above as framework and cornerstones of the PREP learning blocks, the entire package consists of the core learning components of humanitarian action. This includes fundamentals of humanitarian action and coordination, emergency preparedness services and the activation of emergency response tools and services, including humanitarian civil-military coordination. Upon completion of the PREP, graduates with strong Humanitarian Affairs Officer (HAO) skills will be recommended for functional skills training to further develop their skills to perform certain functions, for instance to manage an On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC) or to lead a United Nations Disaster Assessment Coordination (UNDAC) Team. Alternatively, graduates could be prioritized for additional learning on specialized courses, for instance UN-CMCoord Training Courses or Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) workshops.

PREP means streamlining. ESB delivers 60 plus face-to-face training courses per year. PREP will cut across ESB thematic areas, thereby enabling interoperability, coherence and cross-fertilization. With this approach, ESB will be able to reduce its generic part of the face-to-face trainings and devote more time to skills training. The bottom line is to emphasize quality over quantity and outcomes over inputs.

PREP means synergy. Much of ESB’s strength lies in its networks and partners. Hence we must focus on optimizing our structures. We must unite our strengths and the comparative advantages of our partners and capitalize on the complementarity which our diverse networks offer us. PREP is a step forward in this direction, fully in line with the ultimate aim: to optimize our collective efforts so as to more effectively meet the needs of affected people.

PREP is sustainable. As an ESB-wide initiative, ESB Sections will jointly deliver the training course based on their comparative advantage and availability of their most suitable training personnel.

Next steps

After the first reality check in Ireland, the PREP concept will be presented at the Humanitarian Network and Partnership Week (HNPW), taking place in Geneva from 1 to 4 February 2016. Thereafter, given the high demand, further PREP courses have already been confirmed in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany and Spain, under the leadership of the Surge Capacity Section (SCS) and the Field Coordination Support Section (FCSS).

PREP serves as a vehicle for ESB to deliver top-quality face-to-face training courses for its networks, partner organizations and OCHA, thereby enabling ESB and its partners to train as one and deliver as one.

For further information on PREP, please contact Mr. Josef Reiterer,




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