An often overlooked factor in disaster response concerning non-government organizations (NGOs) is being able to remain functional after a disaster damages the area where their operations are based. In order for an NGO to deliver relief services to the affected local populations, they must not only survive the disaster themselves, but have a plan in place to ensure that they are able to immediately deliver relief to local populations. International Medical Corps is continuing to work with corporate experts in Business Continuity Planning (BCP) by delivering a second series of disaster preparedness workshops designed to help local Japanese NGOs create solutions to risk-related challenges and better prepare for future emergency response and recovery efforts.
Last Fall, International Medical Corps and corporate experts delivered a three-part workshop series on Business Continuity Planning (BCP). When asked about issues not covered in the first series of workshops, NGO participants said that information management is a major concern when delivering humanitarian assistance. Whether during an emergency or in stable circumstances, NGOs need to gather, store, process and communicate large amounts of information, some of which is potentially sensitive. Sensitive information may include personal data about beneficiaries, staff, partners and donors, as well as, internal information about their operations. Many Japanese NGOs realize the need to protect the sensitive information they have been entrusted with, but they often do not have the systems, policies, or procedures necessary to protect the information against various elements of risk.
To address these concerns, International Medical Corps is renewing their partnership with veteran experts from two premier Japanese risk management corporations, Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Co., Ltd. This new three-part workshop series is focused on Information Management, and is designed to give Japanese NGOs practical knowledge on how to better manage and protect their information.
At the end of the workshop series, each NGO will have created its own information management rulebook that fits its respective organizational needs. Assignments are given to participants before and after each workshop, and the lessons are shared internally with their staff members so that the training is transferred beyond the individuals participating in the workshop.
Workshop Part 1: “An Introduction to Information Management for NGOs”
On February 25, 2014, International Medical Corps successfully conducted part one of this three-workshop series, in which a total of 20 key staff members from 13 organizations participated.
Nozomi Kawashima (a certified Information Privacy Consultant at Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Ltd.) and Yosuke Sakamoto (Senior Consultant in Business Risks Department at Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co.) jointly taught participating NGO management staff members about the fundamentals of information management. The topics covered included:
Computer viruses, hacking, information mishandling, and damage/destruction of equipment due to accidents or natural disasters were among the various hazards discussed. During the lecture, the consultants introduced examples from their own corporate sector, including the major risks that have been documented by corporations, and various initiatives being undertaken to protect their information. In small group discussions, NGO personnel shared examples from their own experiences and compared corporate risks with the risks they saw within their own organizations.
NGO staff agreed that among the most common risks they faced in information security included: the failure of staff to identify sensitive information and/or not taking extra precautions to protect it; the lack of a clearly communicated policy within their organization around information security; and the lack of IT skills among staff to enable effective implementation of information security measures.
To encourage the participants to think strategically about information management, the consultants accentuated their lecture with case study activities. They introduced an example of an NGO worker who had taken home confidential beneficiary data in order to work on a report with a fast-approaching deadline, only to have her home PC infected by a computer virus that proceeded to steal all of the data. Participants discussed what measures the organization should take to handle this situation responsibly and to minimize negative consequences. Afterwards, the consultants commented on the proposed approaches and gave their own advice about how they would deal with this scenario. For the last 30 minutes of the workshop, participants worked in groups to complete an information assets identification exercise based on a case study of an imaginary NGO by using the lessons they learned during the lecture.
Workshop Part 2 (scheduled in April 2014): “Risk Assessment and Prioritization for Information Management.”
Workshop 2 will focus on practical training by incorporating a variety of group-work activities and discussions based on specific scenarios. Topics the NGOs will examine at this workshop include: assessing the nature of information collected by each organization; assessing the risks to beneficiaries, staff members, and the organization as a whole if a breach of their information occurs; assessing current physical, digital, and communication information security measures; and identifying potential vulnerabilities (e.g., failures in awareness and/or security procedures) and how to address them.
Workshop Part 3 (scheduled in May 2014): “Countermeasures for Information Management and Creating Information Management Procedures”
Based on their work in the previous workshops, each NGO will create an informational management rulebook that meets its organizational needs. The BCP experts will provide feedback to each organization’s draft and offer suggestions/advice for improvement.
International Medical Corps has worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 1999, providing health care, nutrition, food security, gender-based violence prevention and treatment, and water and sanitation services. In a 12 month period alone (Oct 2012 – September 2013), a total of 1,422 cases of sexual violence were reported at health facilities in eastern DRC supported by International Medical Corps and received appropriate health care and treatment.
Our holistic approach works to support the health and well-being of survivors and their families and, through community outreach and education, aims to change attitudes and behaviors to prevent violence in the future. International Medical Corps provides medical care, psychosocial support, legal services and livelihood development – so survivors can overcome the devastating effect of violence and rebuild their lives. We train doctors, nurses and frontline healthcare workers and through our collaboration with Panzi Hospital, educate doctors in remote areas so they can repair fistulas, helping the community better meet the needs of survivors. And, using popular music, local theater, youth events, radio soap operas, sports and sporting events, public service announcements and other community-based outreach, International Medical Corps works with young men and women to change attitudes and behaviors – helping to build a safer, healthier community for women and girls.
In this instance, International Medical Corps’ behavior modification partner in Goma was able to influence a man that was patronizing an establishment that offered young girls for prostitution. Behavior modification lessons to the community empower women by changing the attitudes of their abusers, because very often, many abusive practices are seen as the norm in DRC and can be carried out without the abuser being stigmatized or punished.
“I am a sand digger and a member of the group Friends of Sand Diggers in Green Lake, Goma. I used my income to pay for prostitutes, a norm among other group members. In my community, there are many drinking places with rooms available to engage in sexual activity with young girls. There is no stigma attached to prostitution and the practice is common and accepted.”
“My opinion on prostitution changed in October 2012. I went to one of the drinking places with a girl under the age of 18. A couple of days later, I went to the same drinking place and I was approached by a community mobilizer who was conducting outreach for the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence. He discussed with me the consequences of having sexual relations with underage girls. When I learned that I could be arrested and imprisoned for 5-20 years, I became fearful and remorseful. I thought to myself, “I am still young and I cannot ruin my future by continuing this practice.” I am now working to deter fellow group members and friends from engaging in sexual activity with prostitutes.”
“I am grateful for the information and advice that I received from the members of the SGBV Community Coalition, because without it I may have ended up in jail.”
- 26-year-old man from Mugunga, Goma
International Medical Corps – Typhoon Haiyan Emergency Response Update:
One of the most powerful typhoons on record, Super Typhoon Haiyan has left widespread devastation, affecting an estimated 16 million men, women and children, including displacing some 4.4 million people. International Medical Corps was on the ground within 24 hours of Typhoon Haiyan making landfall, providing emergency medical services to some of the most remote communities, many of which had yet to receive relief or health care. Rapid needs assessments revealed that Typhoon Haiyan severely damaged infrastructure, including homes, buildings and power lines; disrupted water supplies; and destroyed livelihoods, especially fishing and agriculture. There was substantial structural damage in rural health centers and village health offices and the storm destroyed stockpiles, creating a severe shortage of supplies and medicines critical to delivering health care.
Rapid Deployment of Mobile Medical Units: To meet urgent medical needs, International Medical Corps deployed rotating teams of international and local medical professionals to the Philippines. International Medical Corps’ first responders rapidly mobilized supplies and began spreading out to heavily affected areas not yet reached by other organizations. In six weeks of operation (from November 15 – December 19), mobile medical teams reached more than 80 villages (barangays) in 21 municipalities throughout Leyte, Eastern Samar, Cebu, and Capiz provinces – providing 14,625 health consultations.
Key services included health care and treatment for injuries, infections and chronic conditions; mental health and psychosocial support for survivors; monitoring diseases of epidemic potential; and nutrition screening for children under the age of 5. A total of 2,171 children were screened by the Mobile Medical Teams, with a total of 120 acute malnutrition cases treated in Leyte and Capiz Provinces. Out of the total consultations, 65% of new consultations (9,349) were women and girls, often some of the most vulnerable in the aftermath of a disaster. Further, in coordination with the government of the Philippines, International Medical Corps’ teams also delivered and distributed $1.8M worth of medicine and medical supplies to health care facilities.
Increasing Capacity Through Medical Training: True to its mission, International Medical Corps also provided training to build the capacity of local health care providers while delivering emergency services. International Medical Corps collaborated with the Provincial Health Office and UN agencies to conduct trainings for locally-based medical professionals to ensure that a broad range of health indicators were monitored and holistic health care was addressed in the aftermath of the typhoon. To date, International Medical Corps trained 11 people on SPEED (Surveillance in Post Emergency and Extreme Disasters) and with UNICEF trained participants on malnutrition screening of children under the age of 5. In collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), International Medical Corps trained 21 participants from 5 different organizations on critical reproductive health care services designed to save lives and protect women, infants, and young girls during humanitarian emergencies (also known as the Minimum Initial Services Package or MISP). Furthermore, International Medical Corps’ Mental Health Specialist trained national doctors and nurses in Roxas on Psychological First Aid, which gives the skills necessary to support people immediately following extremely stressful events in ways that respect their dignity, culture and abilities.
Mobile Medical Team – The response in their words: Ivy Caballes, RN-- Mobile Medical Unit Team Leader, Leyte: “When we first arrived in Tacloban, I had mixed emotions as to how I would take it, because it would be my first time seeing the devastation. Because I was a part of the first Mobile Medical Unit, I was made team leader while we were still working in the evacuation center in Cebu. Working with the patients in the evacuation center in Cebu, we noticed that the patients had bad cuts and wounds. Dozens were coming to the evacuation center simply to list missing relatives and missing children. They told us their stories of the devastation. One woman told me, “We were chased by four big ships that were pushed onto land from the ocean.”
“Coming into Tacloban for the first time, I wondered what the devastation is going to be like. We arrived and saw that the airport was gone, and continued hearing stories about family members who had been lost on the coasts and loved ones who had been washed out to sea. It was really depressing and gloomy… on the road going to Tanauan, the devastation just broke your heart.”
“We were all excited to be part of the Mobile Medical Unit, because help does not often make it this far into Leyte. Working with International Medical Corps is a completely different experience. In the Philippines, when you do medical visits you often visit the place, do your assessments, provide your treatment, and then leave. With International Medical Corps, our Medical Director emphasized that we want to build up the existing healthcare providers -- the midwives and nurses -- and offer support where they cannot fill needs.”
“In some of these communities, many residents haven’t seen a doctor in years. After the typhoon, health care is finally beginning to reach the far-flung areas. It was a huge eye-opener for those of us Filipinos who didn’t know the extent of our country’s health concerns. During the crisis, the team was willing to sacrifice, everyone was willing to lend a helping hand. I really applaud the team for their patience and perseverance. It was a great feeling to be a volunteer for your own country.”
Today, International Medical Corps, in coordination with local authorities, is focused on recovery efforts including: building local capacity for mental health services, improving access to clean water and sanitation facilities in schools, and enacting an integrated treatment of malnutrition program. These activities will allow the residents of these storm-ravaged areas to become their own First Responders by making their communities more resilient in the face of any future disasters.