Sphere Outreach Expands in South Korea

Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan (CWS-P/A) and Korea NGO Council for Overseas Cooperation (KCOC), with financial support from the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), conducted the first training of trainers (ToT) on Sphere in Seoul, South Korea from October 22-26. As Sphere Regional Partner in Asia, CWS-P/A continues to promote the use of Sphere throughout Asia and partners with the Sphere focal points from various countries to enhance the local knowledge and implementation of this international standard for humanitarian response.

The network of focal points and CWS-P/A’s experience in organizing and conducting training is positively affecting the growth of Sphere in the region. Earlier this year, the first ToT was conducted in Japan. To further strengthen collaboration and learning, one of the facilitators for this ToT in Seoul was a graduate from the ToT in Japan. On the experience Maho Takahashi shared, “Not only was taking part in the Sphere ToT in Seoul an opportunity to share lessons learnt from the March 11 disasters and the increasing necessity to have bigger acknowledgement on Sphere as a collaborative effort between humanitarian actors, it provided me the chance to refresh my memory from the earlier ToT in Japan.” Not only did this provide Maho the opportunity to conduct Sphere training but her confidence and input was a positive reinforcement for the participants.

KCOC plays a leading role as the Sphere focal point for South Korea and in its efforts to promote Sphere standards has trained more than 150 individuals since 2008. Participants in ToTs have experience or knowledge of Sphere and also demonstrate the capacity to develop and conduct training. A participant, Kim, Sung Jin, discussed, “Through the ToT, I gained confidence enough to train my colleagues, even my supervisor.” This process of developing the skills of trainers proves to be effective in expanding the outreach of Sphere. Another participant, Miki Hirose, expressed, “Participant led session was very exciting and challenging but was good experience to know what I could do and what I should improve. Now, I am thinking how to contribute to my learning from Sphere ToT to my organization as well as humanitarian response in general.”

No Sphere ToT is exactly the same as another. Each ToT, like the one in Seoul, is catered to the local context and skills of the participants. For Seoul, a total of three facilitators engaged the participants, each bringing a different expertise. Maho, as mentioned, was a recent ToT graduate and was able to relate to the participants. Uma Narayanan is an experienced international trainer who has conducted numerous Sphere ToTs in Asia while the adaptation to the local context was assured by Sungtae Kim, who is based in South Korea.

The 2011 edition of the Sphere handbook, Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response, guides aid workers on how to follow a minimum standard in various sectors such as food security, shelter, and health. It promotes two overall principles: the right to life with dignity and, therefore, a right to assistance; and that all possible steps should be taken to alleviate human suffering arising out of conflict or disaster. Every disaster and every context is different. Therefore, one of the most valuable points to take from the ToT is the ability and importance of adapting Sphere to the local and disaster-specific context. Through the ToT, this message was conveyed through case studies, group work, and discussion.

For this group of 12 ToT graduates, the journey is just beginning. As they practice what they have learned, the humanitarian community in South Korea will benefit, and in the wake of future disasters, it will be better prepared to serve the affected population. For Sphere and its promoters, this training was another achievement in expanding the outreach of this international standard which aims to positively transform the way disaster-affected communities receive assistance.

CWS-P/A is a member of the

ACT Alliance

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