International Medical Corps

International Medical Corps is a global humanitarian nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through healthcare training, disaster relief, and long-term development programs.
Mar 2, 2015

Supporting Sustainable Business Continuity Planning Training In Japanese NGOs: Part 2

Introduction to simulation exercise
Introduction to simulation exercise

International Medical Corps, in partnership with Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co., Ltd., successfully completed its Business Continuity Planning (BCP) training for a total of 9 Japanese NGOs. Training took place in the form of in-house lectures and tabletop exercises conducted at each NGO’s headquarters to build organizational capacity to respond to disasters quickly and efficiently. Feedback from all participating organizations has been overwhelmingly positive.

In this last report, we share the experience of long-running Japanese NGO Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC). Established in 1980, JVCis an international NGO implementing various projects in over 20 countries in areas such as agriculture, water provision, forest preservation/utilization, children's education, peace-building, and emergency relief. They implement activities meeting local needs and situations with an eye toward the future of people and the community. They work in over 20 countries including Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, South Africa, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan and Sudan. In Japan they are implementing awareness-raising activities toward a fair and just society through advocacy, development education and networking as well as supporting recovery efforts after the 2011 earthquake.

International Medical Corps provided JVC with a BCP in-house workshop on November 25th, followed by an emergency scenario simulation exercise on December 25th, 2014.

Takatoshi Hasebe, Administrative Director of JVC:

Since JVC has been working in conflict zones for many years, we’d put serious thought into how we at the Tokyo headquarters should respond if one of our staff members overseas were to get caught in a difficult situation. However, we’d never really thought about having a plan in place if we were ever to face an emergency here in Tokyo, affecting the entire organization. That changed after the March 11th, 2011. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, due to concerns about damage from aftershocks we limited the number of staff allowed to work at headquarters and ordered the remaining staff to work from home. We didn’t have a BCP or any emergency response plan but we managed to act flexibly and start our relief activities in the Tohoku area fairly quickly. But that experience was a wake-up call, forcing us to admit that we needed to prepare ourselves for similar emergencies in the future, including possibly an earthquake affecting our headquarters.  However, until now, we hadn’t managed to make any progress towards this end. So it was very timely and fortunate for us that International Medical Corps offered us their customized training in BCP.

On November 25th, International Medical Corps’ Country Representative and Tokio Marine’s risk management expert came to our office and gave 14 of our staff including our director-general and myself a thorough introduction into BCP including what it means and what we need to do to create our own BCP. As an NGO, the community looks to us for support, and so when disaster strikes we will have additional emergency response work on top of trying to salvage our regular work. We realized that it is really important for us to prioritize our tasks and scope of work; otherwise we will all be overwhelmed. The staff members who took part in the training commented that the lecture gave them a clearer picture of what needs to be done to prepare the office for both the immediate aftermath of a disaster (e.g., confirming the safety of staff, making sure there is enough food and water for everyone, etc.) as well as to make sure the organization can function and continue operations with limited resources.

Exactly one month after the BCP lecture, International Medical Corps and Tokio Marine came back to our office to provide us with a hands-on simulation exercise to help us experience how we would react if a large-scale disaster were to strike Tokyo. 16 staff members participated. The simulation was split into two parts: (1) immediate response; and (2) business continuity.

During the first part, under the leadership of the director-general we were able to fairly quickly come up with key tasks such as checking on the safety of the building, confirming the safety of the staff who were outside the office, and finding a safe route out of the office. However, we all got a little lost in the beginning, all of the staff were trying to keep notes of the news updates that kept coming in every minute. Later on the trainer pointed out how it is important to prioritize what kinds of information we need to collect and who would do the collecting and reporting back to the group. We also needed to go beyond assigning people to key tasks and clarify exactly what each staff member was supposed to do in their new roles. We also realized that, to be able to respond efficiently, much in advance of the disaster we needed to have emergency contact numbers for each staff, adequate emergency supplies including a radio for getting emergency information, and a list of things to be carried out of the office in case of an evacuation.

During the second part of the exercise, we discussed all that needed to be done by the organization within a week of the disaster, issues like emergency staffing needs and workload, wire transfers to the field to continue overseas operations, press releases and homepage updates, etc. We would also need to decide whether or not we would do an emergency response in the immediate community while also coping with our own difficulties, and if so, to what scale and what would be the necessary resources. Here too we realized how forethought would save us precious time during an emergency. Inevitably things will not go exactly according to plan and we will probably face problems we hadn’t anticipated, but if we continue to anticipate possible scenarios and have a plan for dealing with them, we will have a much better chance at protecting ourselves and the organization’s operations.

There is still so much we need to discuss, but this training has helped us get started with the process. We now know what questions to ask ourselves and what steps we need to take to ensure we have in place an ever-evolving contingency plan. Next March we are planning a follow-up meeting with all the staff members who participated in the training to share feedback and to plan how we will develop our own BCP during the next fiscal year. We are very grateful to International Medical Corps for generously sharing with us this expertise and promise not to let what we have learned go to waste.

Simulation exercise: priority mapping
Simulation exercise: priority mapping
Simulation exercise: feedback
Simulation exercise: feedback
Group discussion
Group discussion
Feb 9, 2015

Jal's Story

Kajo Keji Medical Training School, South Sudan
Kajo Keji Medical Training School, South Sudan

There was a time not too long ago in UN House, a UN hosted compound on the South Western outskirts of Juba, that when a woman went into labour her family didn’t know where to turn. There was someone who could help though, a young man who seemed to be involved in lots of community activities in the camp and could often be seen in and around the maternity unit. So they called him. It might have been three a.m. but he came ready to help a mother however he could, even if that meant delivering a baby. That young man is Jal and he is now a student midwife working in the International Medical Corps maternity unit and has answered many calls like this because he, like the mothers he helps, is also an Internally Displaced Person living in UN House.

Jal was a midwifery student at the International Medical Corps training centre in Kajo Keji. During a visit to Juba there was an outbreak of violence that forced him to seek refuge. He moved into UN House because he’s Nuer and, like everyone else, feared for his life. Jal moved in with the few belongings he had and this included a first aid kit. Without asking anyone and in response to what he saw, he started treating minor injuries and ailments with his first aid kit. This wasn’t anything fancy just a good personal kit and it was in the early days of the crisis. Eventually the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan’s medical director found and spoke to Jal and was very impressed, he gave him more drugs and access to whatever he needed. He effectively became the only community health service on the base all thanks to his drive and the training he’d received at Kajo Keji with International Medical Corps.

Eventually Jal wants to become a gynaecologist because “it’s the way I can have the biggest possible impact on the problems facing South Sudan.” Sadly, Jal is not full of hope for the future of his country nor his place in it when asked whether he will continue his studies in South Sudan and at the International Medical Corps training centre in Kajo Keji he says he doesn’t think he ever will be able to because he is Nuer and “now we are a target…this will all happen again.” Right now he is focused on his work in UN House but eventually he wants to continue his studies in Kenya or anywhere else he can. Along with his role in the maternity unit at UN house with International Medical Corps he’s also a youth leader and all round active member of his community. Thanks to the generous support of International Medical Corps and other donors, many others in South Sudan, with aspirations similar to Jal, are receiving the training they need to make a meaningful and long-lasting impact in their country.

Hands on training at Kajo Keji, South Sudan
Hands on training at Kajo Keji, South Sudan
Classroom session at Kajo Keji, South Sudan
Classroom session at Kajo Keji, South Sudan
Graduation day at Kajo Keji, South Sudan
Graduation day at Kajo Keji, South Sudan
Jan 28, 2015

Food Security Through Sustainable Income Generation: Dejene's Story

Severe drought in East Africa has led to acute food crisis and crops failures, affecting the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of communities, particularly marginalized and vulnerable populations. Since the majority of these populations depend on subsistence agriculture for their livelihood, drought conditions have a significant impact on these communities and the families within them. The following story resonates with the struggle of thousands of such drought victims in East Africa. It is with the support of GlobalGiving and other donors that our efforts to create sustainable income generating activities to help improve the livelihood of poor families, like Dejene, will continue to build resistance to drought and subsequent famine in the region.

Dejene resides in Zamine Welishokebele, Damot Pullasa woreda, with his wife and 6 children. For the past 5 years Dejene had been working as a laborer and earned merely 20-30 birr per day. In addition, he collected and sold firewood for extra income. Due to his poor financial condition, he was struggling to provide for the basic needs of his family, including healthcare and education for his children.

Since 2013, International Medical Corps, through its ECHO-Resilience Building program in Kenya and Ethiopia, has been supporting sustainable livelihood programs for vulnerable populations in order to improve quality of life and reduce poverty.The program’s income generation activities provide donkeys and donkey carts for people, like Dejene, who are struggling to earn a living. The program also provides a five day training session on business skills and financial literacy, through which our beneficiaries are able to gain in depth knowledge on selecting, planning and managing suitable income generating activities as well as managing household resources. The program has benefitted over 340 households, resulting in improved quality of life.

In July 2013, Dejene, along with his other business partners, loaned a donkey and donkey carts through credit and saving cooperatives at 5,500.00 ETB. Dejene now owns one bull, which he was able to purchase through his savings and has savings of 1,520 ETB and 1,000 ET Bat Rural Saving and Credit Cooperative and Village Saving and Loan Association respectively. Dejene recollects the struggles that he and his family went through before he received our support. In his own words, he says,

“I haven’t forgotten our challenges we had to face due to food insecurity. I was not able to provide enough food for my family, and as a result, my children were becoming weak and losing interest in education. I wasn’t even able to lend my support to my wife during her pregnancy as I was busy making our ends meet. With the help of International Medical Corps program, I now earn 75 ETB per day on average, from my income generation activities and I engage myself for about 10-12 days every month in these activities. Now, my family has enough food to eat and my children go to school. In addition,I have planted improved maize seeds on 0.25 hal and by covering all production cost including cost of improved seedsand fertilizer. I share the crop income and crop expenses with the owner of the land. I hope, from now onwards, I will be in a better position to fulfill the needs of my family.”

Dejene is just one of many beneficiaries, whose life has changed for the better. Dejene now earns more than 600 ETB from his donkey and donkey cart business. While he is still working hard to ensure food security for his family, the lives of him and his family have certainly improved for the better. He wants to diversify his income opportunities and invest in animal fattening, parry trade, crop farming with land owners, and wants to construct an iron corrugated house through loans from saving and credit cooperatives in the near future. With the support of GlobalGiving and our generous donors, we will be able to further facilitate the achievement of goals such as these for Dejene and other families and communities just like his. 

 
   

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