W/A security officials, civilians begin humanitarian aid course
Thirty-three security officials and civilians from 10 West African countries and Austria, yesterday began training in humanitarian assistance at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra.
The two-week course named “Humanitarian Assistance and Women, Peace and Security in West Africa Core Course (HAWA WPS CC)”, aims to strengthen participants’ capacities for effective humanitarian assistance in the sub-region.
The participants, who are the 11th batch of the course are drawn from military, police and various humanitarian institutions from Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Benin, Gambia, Cameroon, Senegal, Mali, and Benin.
Introduced nine years ago, the course is being run in partnership with the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution (ASPR), Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and the Austrian Ministry of Defence.
The KAIPTC Deputy Commandant, Air Commodore George Arko-Dadzie, said the participants would discuss some of the hurdles to peace and development West Africa faced and explore ways to resolve them.
He noted that more than 130 million people in the region lived in extreme poverty with the region’s population vulnerable to widespread food insecurity, recurrent natural disasters, climate change, the global economic crisis, socio-political instability and, recently, the COVID-19.
He said the course contributed to several strategic objectives of the various Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) strategies through capacity building for effective and well-coordinated humanitarian assistance.
Noting that in emergency situations, civilian, police and military actors found themselves working side by side, he said the course would help participant’s mechanisms for coordinating measures and mutual understanding between civilian, police and military actors.
Participants would be taken through modules including the root causes of disasters, to the protection of civilians and human rights standards, guidelines for the use of armed escort, negotiation of humanitarian access, as well as cultural awareness and gender and diversity concerns in humanitarian action.
The Director of the Austrian Centre for Peace, Moritz Ehrmann, said the humanitarian situation had deteriorated considerably in West Africa, creating an existential challenge for a region where 40 per cent of the population is 15 years old or younger.
“Part of the response to this combination of multifaceted crises is the urgent need to strengthen humanitarian assistance, particularly by creating strategic partnerships between actors and harmonising their actions,” he said.
Mr Ehrmann said the effectiveness of humanitarian interventions would be considerably increased if local actors were better prepared to play their full role in the system.
For her part, Mrs Fatou Ndour, the HAWA Program Manager said the larger HAWA project aims to ensure that its capacity-building activities correspond to the real needs of the humanitarian systems of the beneficiary countries.
She said the HAWA project Phase III impacted 46 organisations while Phase IV, which started last year, was expected to directly benefit 1,527 persons and 150,000 indirect beneficiaries annually.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR