Strategic Development and Management of Humanitarian Action

Design and implement high-quality humanitarian responses

Next course

  • From 08 February 2016 to 24 March 2016, Geneva, Switzerland

The course is jointly organised with CERAH (Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action) and is part of the Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian Action curriculum. Participants can obtain 10 ETCS credits.

Course overview

The Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Strategic Development and Management of Humanitarian Action strengthens professionals’ competencies to better analyse situations and needs as well as design and manage relevant, results-based humanitarian interventions.



By the end of the CAS, participants will be able to implement high-quality humanitarian interventions. More specifically, participants will have the capacity to:

  • Formulate, negotiate and implement coherent, flexible and creative humanitarian interventions taking into account ethical issues, context prerogatives, humanitarian principles, coordination mechanism and organization’s mandate
  • Monitor, evaluate and critically review strategies of intervention
  • Communicate and negotiate with stakeholders as well as facilitate participative processes

Learning outcomes in terms of knowledge

  • Understanding of the global humanitarian context as well as the sociology of humanitarian actors and fundamental elements of a specific crisis context
  • Understanding of the type of humanitarian interventions, humanitarian dilemmas and humanitarian options

Learning outcomes in terms of skills

  • Capacity to analyse a context
  • Capacity to frame an adequate strategy of intervention regarding both a specific crisis and the global strategy of the organisation
  • Capacity to use specialised problem-solving skills
  • Capacity to develop creative and flexible procedures to implement a strategy of intervention

Learning outcomes in terms of analytical competencies

  • Ability to choose best options in challenging and moving complex contexts
  • Ability to analyse and critically review strategies of intervention



Around 300 hours of individual work including

  • Pre-readings
  • Face to face sessions (lectures, role play, working groups, field work)
  • Personal work (personal readings, personal research, writing)

7 intensive weeks including regular practice on individual projects

  • Part 1: Analyse contexts (1 week)
  • Part 2: Frame adequate operational strategies (2 weeks)
  • Part 3: Design and manage relevant, adequate, creative, flexible and results-based humanitarian programs/projects (2 weeks)
  • Part 4: Evaluate results and critically review operational strategies (2 weeks)

N.B.: Included within the 7 weeks is an individual work on either a real students’ project or the Niger case study.

Case studies and examples during the course will take into account the three major contexts for humanitarian action: armed conflict / complex emergencies, “natural” disasters, social exclusion.

In addition, chronic conflicts, chronic crises, and the interplay between humanitarian action and development activities will be given due consideration.



Part 1: Analyse contexts (1 week)

Week 1: Strategy framework and context analysis

  • Understand what a strategy is as well as how specific and in line with top and down levels it must be
  • Analyse the global and specific contexts of crisis and humanitarian responses Conduct needs assessments

Part 2: Frame adequate operational strategies (2 weeks)

Week 2: Strategic Analysis and decision

  • Decide to intervene or not
  • Define intervention options
  • Set priorities

Week 3: Strategic management in practice

  • Improve a bottom up approach
  • Communicate your strategy
  • Negotiate your strategy

Part 3: Designing and managing programs/projects

Week 4: Project planning

  • Define objectives, activities, indicators, source of verification, and risks
  • Integrate local authorities capacities

Week 5: Programming and implementing activities

  • Harmonise activities, timing and resources
  • Identify the challenges, advantages and limits of standardisation
  • Integrate the coordination issues

Part 4: Evaluate results and critically review operational strategies (2 weeks)

Week 6: Monitoring and evaluating an intervention

  • Design activities, results and situation monitoring systems
  • Design internal/external, intermediary/final evaluation systems
  • Adapt your strategy
  • Capitalise and share the experience

Week 7: Critical reviewing of operational strategies

Practical Information and Registration on CERAH website