Building the Capacity of Syrian Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

May 18, 2016 Tina Bolding

DisasterReady is partnering with Mercy Corps and the International Rescue Committee to support capacity development of local Syrian humanitarian organizations in order to strengthen their ability to respond to emergency needs throughout the country. 

The new program is called Investing in Syrian Humanitarian Action (ISHA) and has two key objectives:

  • To strengthen Syrian partner organizations’ operational, technical, management, and programmatic skills
  • To support Syrian civil society organizations in responding to humanitarian and emergency needs throughout Syria


ISHA values Syrian humanitarian organizations as independent entities driven by their own missions, approaches, and ground-tested humanitarian expertise. The program believes that strengthening Syrian civil society to deliver assistance and provide services more effectively now is critical in laying the foundation for a future peaceful Syria.

ISHA partners drive the design, decision-making, and implementation of their projects in Syria. We advise, guide, probe, and hold partners accountable to ensure that their projects are needs-driven and use resources effectively – but ISHA partners neither design the projects nor makes day-to-day decisions during implementation.  There are two parts of the ISHA program 1) Technology-based Learning and 2) Direct Support to Select ISHA Partners.


Given the access constraints faced by both International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) and Syrian humanitarian organizations in this operating environment, many humanitarians operating inside Syria are unable to attend formal, classroom-based trainings. One of the key elements of the ISHA program is to design a technology-based learning program specifically focused on the capacity development needs of humanitarians working in Syria. The learning program will give humanitarians, in any location, access to online learning resources and performance support tools that are free-of-charge and available in ‘real time’ through a web-based Arabic learning portal. The ISHA learning program will be designed to help strengthen skills and knowledge of Syrian aid workers, increasing the effectiveness of their work and the impact of their programming in Syria.

The primary role of the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation DisasterReady team is to:

  • Conduct a technology-based learning assessment  to understand the technology-based learning landscape and capacity needs of humanitarian aid workers in Syria and the surrounding countries
  • Design a technology-based learning program
  • Provide in Arabic giving aid workers in Syria and the surrounding countries online learning resources to build their skills and knowledge


Through a highly competitive Call for Applications process, ISHA recently identified 5 Syrian civil society partners that will receive sub-grant funding to deliver humanitarian assistance projects in the Health, Non-Food Item (NFI)/ Voucher, and Water and Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sectors. Projects will be between 6-9 months in duration, and sub-grants for projects will be between $100,000 and $200,000. In addition to a sub-grant, these selected Syrian civil society partners will receive intensive and tailored financial, technical, and operational capacity strengthening support from Mercy Corps during the project cycle.

Be sure to follow DisasterReady on Facebook and Twitter to get more information on the ISHA program.


About the Author

Tina Bolding is the Director of and is responsible for the strategy, development and outreach for this effort to support the critical and demanding training needs of the global humanitarian community. Before joining the Foundation, Tina served as chief human resources officer at Food for the Hungry, an international relief and development organization, where she built a global HR department and implemented support services to assist HR operations across 22 countries. Tina holds a BA in Organizational Communication and Psychology from the University of Tulsa.


Aprenda. Prepárese. Colabore