Simulating the Worst to Prepare the Best: A study of humanitarian simulations and their benefits | Simulation

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Simulations are being used widely across the humanitarian sector, in a variety of contexts and involve numerous stakeholders. The sector is placing increasing value on simulations as important staff capacity, preparedness and relationship building exercises. The Emergency Capacity Building (ECB) Project Simulating the worst to prepare the best case study, addresses the questions of
    ECB Project Case Study Simulating the worst to prepare the best: a study of humanitarian simulations and their benefits David Hockaday, Daniel Barnhardt, James Staples, Pamela Sitko and Odile Bulten May 2013    ECB Project Simulation Case Study    2 Table of Contents Page Executive Summary 03 1. Introduction 05 2. What is a simulation and why use them? 06 3. Case Studies 09 3.1 UNHCR 09  3.2 The national Government of Madagascar 10  3.3 All levels of government in the Philippines 12  3.4 INGOs and the ECB Project 13  3.5 World Vision in the Philippines  15 3.6 The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative 16   4. Comparisons and Learning 18 5. Conclusions 22  About the Authors 25  Acknowledgements 25  About the Emergency Capacity Building Project 25   ECB Project Simulation Case Study    3 Executive Summary The idea for this collaborative paper came from the development of an Emergency Capacity Building (ECB) Project simulation case study. During preliminary research for this first case study it became apparent that simulations are being used widely across the humanitarian sector, in a variety of contexts and involving numerous stakeholders. It became clear that the industry is placing increasing value on simulations as valuable staff capacity, preparedness and relationship building exercises. While the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Sub Working Group on Preparedness is working on a set of agreed definitions and terms, there is currently little agreement on a common language amongst stakeholders to describe the process of simulation design and delivery. Section 2 of this case study attempts to address some of that confusion by defining some of the basic rules and language used. Se ction 2 also outlines the ‗ what and why ‘  of simulations as well as describing some of the tools available to support their implementation. There is a broad spectrum of approaches to simulations which can vary depending on context, participants and the objectives of the simulation. Section 3 uses six case studies to reveal that simulations can be tailored to the requirements of the client and delivered online, in the classroom, in the field, as a drill or as a table top exercise. It is also noted that simulations are flexible tools that can involve advanced technology or can involve hand written messages. And finally this section highlights that simulations are adaptable to any context and any group of stakeholders, which makes their application in the humanitarian sector increasingly attractive. Section 3 also demonstrates that there are many reasons for holding simulations  –  from testing or practicing pre-negotiated protocols, contingency plans or policies, to enhancing communication amongst stakeholders; from improving coordination within a humanitarian response to building trust and relationships amongst disparate actors - so crucial in a real time humanitarian response. The four key elements of a successful simulation design are drawn out in Section 4, focussing on the importance of trained and experienced facilitators taking a leading role in the design and delivery of the simulation, the significance of the contextualisation of simulation injects, the primary role that the simulation debrief plays in ensuring a successful exercise and the value of an action plan as a key simulation output. Four more learning points for implementing successful simulations are described in this section, focussing on the importance of choosing the right hazard for the context, ensuring the right stakeholders are involved, and that simulations are adequately planned and resourced. This paper concludes in Section 5 with four key reflections and conclusions: 1. Simulations are increasingly recognized by NGOs, governments and the broader humanitarian community as highly effective and engaging ways of increasing preparedness and building capacity 2. Significant progress has been made in the humanitarian community in the way that simulations have been resourced, prioritized and used as a preparedness tool   3. The creation of the IASC simulation roster provides an excellent resource for the humanitarian community 4. Simulations provide excellent opportunities for relationship / trust building   See table 1 for a summary of the six simulations that are focussed on in this case study.    Table 1: Summary of the six simulations United Nations High Commission for Refugees National Government of Madagascar All levels of Government in the Philippines International NGOs and the ECB Project Filipino Community Harvard Humanitarian Initiative Aim To improve individual skills To test internal and external coordination capacity To practice preparedness and build local capacity To improve individual skills and organizational preparedness To improve individual skills and foster a culture of community preparedness To improve individual skills Type Skill drills and functional Table top Functional Functional Functional Functional, skill drills and table top Participants Typically 40 UN / INGO staff UN, government, INGO, Red Cross, Private sector staff Typically 100+ government, INGO and UN staff Typically 30  –  40 INGO, Red Cross, government staff  About 80 INGO staff and community members Typically 100 graduate and professional students as well as NGO / UN staff Location Sweden, Germany or Norway Madagascar Philippines Bangladesh, Bolivia, Kenya, Uganda, Indonesia, Niger Philippines Massachusetts, USA Scenario Various Cyclone and floods Cyclones Various Cyclone Various Injects Multi-media, video, electronic, written, verbal Multi-media, video, electronic, written, verbal Multi-media, video, electronic, written, verbal Multi-media, electronic, written, verbal Written and verbal Multi-media, video, electronic, written, verbal Duration 7  –  10 days 1.5 days 1.5 days 1.5 days 1.5 days 2.5 days Outcome Staff prepared for numerous outcomes likely to be faced while on deployment Revision of national contingency plan Testing of operational procedures, contingency plans and coordination Better prepared staff and improved contingency plans Staff leadership development and increased community awareness of disaster risks Participants prepared for actual response phase
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