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There are vast opportunities in the humanitarian sectors / social work for persons who want to assist others in need.

Are you aware of the number of unrest in different parts of the world?

Humanitarian assistance saves lives, alleviate suffering and maintains human dignity during and after man-made crises or disasters caused by natural hazards and war.

The humanitarian work is relevant in areas where there are crises, and there is need to support marginalised people, and civilians.

Humanitarian assistance is different from development assistance. Humanitarian assistance is more of a response to conflicts, and sudden outbreaks. For example, few weeks ago there was a flood in Pakistan, in Nigeria and these are urgent situations that require a response. Humanitarians are deplored in these regions to provide assistance.

There are various clusters in the Humanitarian sector

  1. Health: Medical or health attention are greatly impacted. For example, in cases of shelling or bombs, or drought or flood that require health related emergencies.
  2. Logistics: It is a huge area, and a lot of organisations are focused on this. For example, in a situation of war, the supply chain is broken into ready to eat meals. Also, they would require certain kinds of supplies if their stores or supermarkets are shut down due to the war. In flood or hurricane situations, people have to be moved from point A to B, most of them do not have access to markets, here, logistics intervention provides supply chain.
  3. Nutrition: There are nutrition projects. Some regions may not have access to specific kind of food or meals to have balance diet. Nutrition intervention helps to provide that nutritional balance in the food that is provided.
  4. Protection: Imagine a refugee situation, for example, Germany hosts the largest refugees (from Syria, Irak and other countries) in Europe not globally. Protection is a huge project. It entails supporting people with legal documentation, such as people who have to leave their homes, many of them travel without their legal documentation, and to register as an asylum seeker, you need to prove that you are from a certain place. There is also child protection, gender based violence, for projects that have to do with camp coordination or setting up of camps. In these projects, people are put together to live in the same place, and there could be protection issues that may occur. Protection also has to do with gender base segregation, to avoid abuse due to gender, and protection is broad.
  5. Shelter: Providing physical shelter to people based on different contexts. For example displacement of people due to flood or something happening, and if it is not a usual occurrence, temporary shelters are provided until the flood or issue is resolved, and people are moved back to their communities. For permanent shelters like what is been done in Ukraine, where most people are not able to go back, new communities are created.
  6. Water sanitation and hygiene (WASH): This includes everything related to water, hygiene or sanitation.
  7. Camp Coordination & Camp Management: It is related to shelter but in camp coordination, there are various techniques being deployed. Many of these camps are like villages, they have been in existence for many years. People come and go, and when there is another crises, another set of people come and go. There are also different mechanisms for coordinations camps.
  8. Early recovery: Deals with supporting people to recover, and transitioning them back to their normal life which in most cases may not be completely possible.
  9. Education: Education projects are done to support people to continue to learn, especially children.
  10. Emergency Telecommunications: In disaster situations, tele care broken. There are emergency telecommunication designed for this.
  11. Food security: entails providing food to boost the agriculture sectors, that people have what to eat.
The Cluster Approach By both UN and Non-UN organisations

With these little explanations, you can imagine yourself in these clusters as a doctor, a nurse, a nutritionist, a lawyer, a teacher, an architect, e.t.c., as these clusters are broad and cross-cutting.

A lawyer can look at protection. A nutritionist can work in the nutrition project. Architects can look at shelter projects, medical practitioners can think of health. If you are in agriculture, you can look at food security or camp coordination and camp management. A teacher can think of education. Lots of people have the opportunity. If you did not study international humanitarian action, you find a place in the humanitarian space.

In the video below, Deborah highlights what to expect in the humanitarian sectors. in addition, ideas on how to navigate in the field, seeking funding opportunities from various organisations. She also explains the different portfolios and how you can be part of the humanitarian services / social work with different specialisation and course of study.

The different portfolios are as follows:

  • Programs implementation
  • Cluster Specialist
  • Grants & Compliance
  • Operations / Logistics
  • Finance
  • Communications
  • Monitoring Evaluation and Learning (MEAL)

Who is a Social Work?

A social worker is a trained professional who helps individuals and families to improve their quality of life by ensuring access to basic needs such as food, shelter, and safety. They work with defined case management systems.

For people living in Germany, a social worker is assigned to you, incase you have an issue. Social workers have one-on-one interactions with people in need or families who are in need, and support them on a case-by-case basis. For many countries, there are licences you need to get to be a social worker.

Specialisations in Social work

Community Social worker: Community support

Child and family social worker: assigned to children or specific families who need support.

Mental health social worker: most of them are psychologists that provide specific support to people with mental health issues.

Military social worker

Gerontological social worker: Social workers assigned to the elderly.

School social worker: those assigned to schools, most of them could also be child protection experts.

If you have not worked in the humanitarian sector before, you can volunteer to gain the some skills on the job.

Deborah made it clear that one should never feel superior over the people you are providing intervention for, either as a social worker or humanitarian professional.

I hope you got some ideas in the video above on how to go about looking for jobs, services you can provide or funding from organisations for people looking to participate in the humanitarian sector or social work.

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