Review of the Core Humanitarian Competencies Framework – Emerging Themes

26 May 2016
Uma Narayanan

by Uma Narayanan

Uma Narayanan is a Kuala Lumpur based consultant working with clients to help sharpen their organisational effectiveness in aspects of human resources (HR), organisational development (OD) and accountability.

In this blog project manager Uma Narayanan gives an update on and shares some key themes emerging during the review of the Core Humanitarian Competencies Framework.

I’m pleased to talk to you again and update you on the progress we have been making on the review and development of the Core Humanitarian Competencies Framework. We are mid-way through the process and much has been accomplished. The online survey has been completed, with very heartening responses from participants. I wish to take this opportunity to convey my sincerest appreciation to all participants of the online survey. Thanks to everyone who completed it for taking time out to do so and share your views and thoughts.

Good progress has also been made with the focus group discussions (FGDs). FGDs to date have been conducted in Malaysia, Pakistan, Australia and the United Kingdom with participation from aid and development organisations as well as affected communities. We received candid, constructive feedback from the FGDs. At this juncture I wish to record my deepest gratitude to all our friends who have contributed their ideas and time to the FGDs. We plan to continue with FGDs in the coming weeks with stakeholders from a few more countries and regions.

The interest and support shown towards the consultation process has been highly encouraging. I am thoroughly enjoying the stakeholder consultation process thus far, and am learning as much from the engagement. Like everyone else, I too look forward to the consolidated inputs and analyses from the online survey and FGDs and gauge how they can help us to identify the strengths and potential refinements to the Competencies Framework.

Emerging themes in the review process

A few themes are emerging from the preliminary findings. For example, a large proportion of stakeholders find the Competencies Framework generally robust and fit for purpose and of value to the work that they do. At the same time, it seems that there is only a moderate level of awareness of the Competencies Framework among staff and management of some organisations in some regions. For many of the people whom we have consulted, the current review process itself was the first time that they were introduced to the framework. It is also interesting to find a few agencies have developed their own tailor-made and specific competencies framework to suit their own organisational needs.

Measuring Effectiveness

Another point that has emerged is the challenge of measuring the effectiveness of the Competencies Framework. Current research indicates that this not unique to our sector but is also faced by practitioners across sectors including in business or for-profit organisations. I feel that even as we continue to develop competencies frameworks, we should put equal effort in measuring the effectiveness of the competencies framework. But as I said, these are initial, random observations. We need to hear from the rest of the FGDs. We need to consolidate the data and drill down on the findings. We will update you in a more detail manner when we have completed the consultation process.

We will soon share case studies demonstrating how organisations have successfully adopted the Competencies Framework or variations of it as part of their staff development and emergency response programmes, including in various trainings conducted for mid-level and senior managers. This might be most helpful for the rest of us to learn on not only on the effective use of the competency framework but equally on the challenges of using such framework.