Providing the Right Aid to the Right People at the Right Time

May 08, 2018 Alec Green

We’re celebrating the fifth anniversary of DisasterReady by capturing the stories of learners who signed up five years ago and continue to take courses today.

When many of us think of humanitarian aid and development, we visualize people providing care, building shelters, and protecting those in need. Working alongside these aid workers is another type of humanitarian charged with ensuring this work is being conducted efficiently and as promised.

Wajihul Hassan Syed is one of these humanitarians. For the past ten years, he has served as a specialist in the field of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E).  He explains that his role involves “making sure that assistance that has been promised is being delivered to the beneficiaries in the way it was laid out in the plan.”  His most recent assignment was in Sierra Leone supporting communities affected by the recent mudslide.  When he arrived, he soon discovered that hygiene kits were being provided to populations that already received them, while other neighborhoods received nothing.  It was his job to quickly revamp the distribution process and get the right provisions to the right beneficiaries.

Syed began his humanitarian career in 2010 and discovered DisasterReady in 2013 when working with the Danish Refugee Council. He has since taken over 50 courses on DisasterReady and his greatest wish is to one day be able “to find the time to complete all the trainings I start.” In the courses, he has found a number of best practices that he can put into practice in the field.  For example, a course from UNHCR on Results-Based Program Management helped him take concepts like project management and logframes for which he had a basic understanding and apply the principles to his ongoing work in M&E.

In the past five years, his own learning style has evolved along with the types of courses offered in DisasterReady. While he started off trying to complete multi-course curricula, more recently his favorite courses have been the “quick guides” that serve as handy reminders in his day-to-day work in the field.  He also enjoyed the Emergency Needs Assessment Online Game from Catholic Relief Services which allowed him to go through a simulation-based exercise and practice interviewing key informants and affected people:  “This was an incredibly engaging way to learn key concepts we all need to understand. I had never seen this type of virtual role play used before.” 

Syed also spends some time mentoring other aid workers and uses courses from DisasterReady in his own training programs:  “I work with all types of people – volunteers, NGO employees, expats, nationals – regardless of how long they have been working in the sector, they all find information they can put to use in DisasterReady.  Many of my students bring me copies of the certifications they have earned.” The one course he always recommends to his students?  The Sphere Handbook in Action because “these are the foundations of good practice.” In developing training programs for other humanitarians, he has had the opportunity to explore a number of different resources. More often than not, he returns to DisasterReady.  “The variety and quality of courses cannot be found anywhere else.  There really is nothing that compares to DisasterReady.”   


About the Author

As Chief Marketing Evangelist, Alec Green is responsible for developing the overall marketing plan and strategy for the Foundation, executing all outbound communications, increasing visibility of the Foundation’s programs, and building engagement with our partners and beneficiaries. Previously, Alec was Vice President of Marketing at The Search Agency, the largest independent online marketing agency in the U.S. He has also held marketing leadership roles at Zynx Health and Amgen Inc. and began his career as a seventh-grade mathematics teacher in the New York Unified School District. Alec holds an MBA in marketing from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a BA in psychology and sociology from Amherst College.


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