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Training in HOPE: Helping Older People in Emergencies

19 Jul 2012

Participants at the Gaza HOPE - Helping Older People in Emergencies - trainingOlder people are more vulnerable in emergencies - both in times of conflict and natural disasters. Lack of mobility, poor eyesight and loss of hearing, for example, can make access to support extremely difficult.

Often however, humanitarian organisations do not take these issues into consideration. This means that older people are frequently excluded from humanitarian policies and responses.

Older people's needs are not understood 

Sometimes organisations do acknowledge older people as a vulnerable group but very rarely does it translate into meaningful project activities or an age-friendly project design. Most of the time, older people are not even consulted in humanitarian work. Their needs, concerns and priorities are therefore not understood. This results in age-blind humanitarian programmes and policy.

To address this lack of capacity and understanding, HelpAge International has launched a new training programme called HOPE – Helping Older People in Emergencies. The training has been developed to assist humanitarian practitioners and policy makers to integrate older people into policy development, planning, programme design and implementation. This year, a minimum of 200 humanitarian workers around the world are set to benefit from the programme, which has been funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO).

The first HOPE training was attended by 38 people in Nairobi, Kenya last month on 19 June. This was followed by a second training in Gaza City in the occupied Palestinian territory on 3 July which had 35 participants. Both trainings were attended by international humanitarian and development organisations, including UNHCR, UNRWA, local NGOs as well as government representatives.

Commitment to include older people in humanitarian work

The participants who attended the trainings have made a commitment to influence and encourage their organisations to bring about change in the sector and make humanitarian responses more inclusive. As one participant from the training noted, “we need to integrate older people into our programmes, not just on paper but in reality.”

The HOPE trainings will continue in various locations throughout the year. Hopefully, the HOPE alumni can influence the inclusion, visibility and participation of older people into existing and future humanitarian responses.

Read more about our work with older people in emergencies, as well as the professional training we offer.

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Author profile

Rhea Bhardwaj
Job title: Humanitarian Training Coordinator

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.