What would a data ready National Society look like? How can we be ‘fit for the future?” This journey towards improved data literacy and information management skills is gaining momentum building from the pilot to more scalable models. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent recently completed a six day course on Humanitarian Information Analysis in Damascus, Syria. This course targeted almost 40 participants coming from all 14 field branches of the Information Management Department of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. Selected participants from the newly created MEAL (Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning) Unit and from the Disaster Management and Operations Department of SARC were as well attending this course.

The facilitation team was composed of information analysts and disaster managers from the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Global IM and Surge Teams, the IFRC Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa and the British Red Cross. In addition, in order to ensure future ownership of this course, the IM Department of SARC had one of their talented IM Officer join the facilitation team. Localization of data and information workflows is a key strategic goal for IFRC. There are talented people across the network. By focusing on upskilling data and information leaders, we can build on ownership, efficiency, and decision-making.

It’s the first time that the IFRC exposes a National Society to this pilot course, that’s objective is to build the capacities, competencies and skills for Surge Information Analysts within the IFRC Network in order to better support sectors and disaster managers in structuring situational and needs analysis.

This course has been structured and designed by the IFRC Information Management team throughout 2018 as a pillar of the Emergency Needs Assessments workflow of the Surge Optimisation process of the IFRC.

Exercise on the Six Hat Techniques

The IFRC Humanitarian Information Analysis Course (HIAC), that was previously labeled temporarily “Strengthening Analytical Thinking”, looks throughout the six days of the event at the processes, techniques and tools for improving humanitarian analysis in support to decision makers. The course content has been co-created in close collaboration and partnership with OCHA, private consultant experts in this sector and builds upon the work done in the past years by ACAPS.

“This training will help SARC’s Information Management Department fill the existing gaps in data and information analysis. This training will provide the IM team with the necessary tools and methods to support the Syrian Arab RC improve the capacity, skills and competencies in regards to humanitarian information analysis.
The output of this training will reinforce the coordination between SARC departments, and ultimately improve SARC’s continuous response.
Finally, the timing of this training and the facilitation team couldn’t be better. This was reflected by the team’s participation and overall feedback to the training.” Hussam Saeid, Manager of the IM Department in SARC.

The IM Department of SARC has an agreed strategic plan for 2019 and this course is aligned to those objectives which include giving exposure and recognising the incredible work the IM Department has achieved throughout the crisis and continues to improve the approach to a sustainable Information Management Department that consists of a team of almost 100 people throughout Syria.

The course proved to be a success and was very well received by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent target audience and it was an important shared learning experience for participants as much as the facilitation team. The journey towards reaching improved data and information skills is step-by-step. The Humanitarian Information Analysis Course demonstrates the opportunities for data leaders as well as the importance to localize information and analysis workflows.

IFRC Humanitarian Information Analysis Course team

In the picture (left to right), the facilitation team of the IFRC Humanitarian Information Analysis Course.

Fadi Ibrahim, IM Officer – Syrian Arab Red Crescent
Ahmad Al-Jamal, IM Delegate – IFRC MENA Regional Office
Guido Pizzini, Senior Officer IM and Analysis – IFRC Secretariat, Geneva
Hussam Saeid, Manager, IM Department – Syrian Arab Red Crescent
Richard Davill, Global Surge IM – British Red Cross HQ, London
Francisco Maldonado, Senior Officer Global Surge – IFRC Secretariat, Geneva
Raja Assaf, Senior Response Officer – IFRC MENA Regional Office


Photo 1 credit: Group picture with the facilitation team and participants – Yazeed Damash / Syrian Arab Red Crescent
Photo 2 credit: Exercise on the Six Hat Techniques – Yazeed Damash / Syrian Arab Red Crescent
Photo 3 credit: Humanitarian Information Analysis Facilitators – Yazeed Damash / Syrian Arab Red Crescent

[Editor note: blog post by Guido Pizzini and Richard Davill]