Clara Egger – Humanitarian Encyclopedia research lead – and two members of HE governance bodies signing articles in Humanitarian Alternatives review!

The ninth issue of Humanitarian Alternatives bilingual review was launched in November under the thematic “1968-2018 Breakdown and continuity”.

The editorial is signed by Clara Egger, Humanitarian Encyclopedia research lead.

Then, in the forum space, François Grünewald, member of the Advisory Board speaks about “Aid workers and the uprooted: chronic of a parallel evolution”, and Oscar Gomez, member of our Scientific Committee elaborates on “Sovereignty as responsibility in East Asia response to crisis”

Enjoy the reading!!!

The Humanitarian Encyclopedia third governance meeting took place in Geneva from 19th to 21st November 2018

Both the Advisory Board and Scientific Committee gathered this week in Geneva to take stocks on past months project evolutions. We had enriching discussions and debates, alternating plenary session with workshops sessions.

Tuesday morning session was dedicated to a joint meeting for the two instances, where the methodology leading to the selection of 126 key humanitarian concepts was presented and adopted. We reached an important milestone that will drive our next research phases.

We want to thank all our governing bodies members for their active participation and their active engagement around the Humanitarian Encyclopedia initiative.

We would like to extend our gratitude to all the humanitarian practitioners who contributed to March 2018 survey, and to the workshops that were held during the Summer in India, Malaysia, Mali, Kenya, Lebanon and Iraq. The survey and the workshops results together with text analysis led to the selection of the 126 concepts through a combination of the three methodologies.

banner 126 seul2

The Humanitarian Encyclopedia taking part to the HEW2018

This year again, we are pleased to contribute to “The Humanitarian Evidence week”, aka the HEW2018!

HEW2018 is an initiative led by Evidence Aid, in collaboration with the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford, to promote a more evidence-based approach together with many other organisations. During the HEW organisations provide webinars, blogs and debates to highlight topics related to generation, use and dissemination of evidence in the humanitarian sector, details of which you will find in their timeline – scroll through to November 23rd and you will find our contributions:

The HEW2018 takes place from November 19th to 25th. If you missed some of the events,  you can consult most of the contents online, on evidence aid website.

Public conference « 1968 – 2018 : Humanitarian concepts across time and spaces » November 20th, campus Biotech 18h30 – 21h

Fifty years after the Biafra war, which set the stage for the “without borders” movement, humanitarian aid has become a resolutely strategic sector, both in terms of action and of image, encompassing an increasing number of players with ever more diverse profiles and practices. This double movement of expansion and diversification has profoundly affected the conceptual frame of humanitarian action. In this context, participants will explore contemporary reconfigurations on humanitarian action by exploring how concepts central to humanitarian action have evolved across time and spaces.

This event will see the launch of the ninth issue of Humanitarian Alternatives : “1968-2018: disruption and continuities”  and confront the perspectives of seasoned practitioners and researchers and doctoral on humanitarian practice, taken as a field of investigation.


Marie Luce Desgrampchamps, Lecturer, History Department, University of Geneva

Duncan Mc Lean, Senior researcher, The Research Unit on Humanitarian Stakes and Practices (UREPH or Research Unit) of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Switzerland – “A reassertion of state sovereignty? Humanitarian implications”


Fabien Cottier, Post doctoral researcher, Department of political science and International Relations, University of Geneva “A Climate of Exclusion ? Environmental Migration, Political Marginalization and Violence”


Despite alarmist claims in the public discourse about the consequences of environmentally-induced migration for security, little empirical research has attempted to evaluate the contention. My Ph.D. dissertation, therefore, sets out to examine the linkage between environmental change, rural-urban migration, and nativist violence. To do so, I present new data on rural-urban migration for 17 Sub-Saharan African countries. The findings unambiguously indicate that climate change does affect rural-urban migration flows, but only to a limited extent. In turn, these migratory flows may cause a moderate increase in the probability of nativist violence, particularly when the native population is marginalized by the central government. The findings, thus, reject the alarmist predictions. Climate change is unlikely to cause mass migration and, as a consequence, to substantially destabilize states.


Janine Bressmer, PhD candidate in political science and international relations, Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP), The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, “The Spatiality of Risk Management in Aid: Manuals, Walls, and (In)Visibility”


Over the past two decades, humanitarian action has arguably experienced a shift in terms of its conceptualization and physical manifestations on the ground. Debates over a shrinking ‘humanitarian space’ levy accusations against an increasingly dangerous environment in which aid is not given the physical space to operate and humanitarian principles are not respected. Rather than siding in this argument, it can be said that the space in which humanitarian organizations operate, characterized by warfare and violent non-conflict settings, has generated an environment in which such organizations work (conceptually and practically) reactively vis-à-vis the security and risk implications on the ground. Changes in humanitarian discourse and norms, practices such as remote- and risk-management and the separation of aid workers and beneficiary through material and space provide an interesting entry point, this presentation argues, through which to better understand some of the spatial considerations attached to delivering aid in volatile environments


Claudio Todisco, PhD, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, The Graduate Institute Geneva  “So far and yet so near: the production of difference in humanitarian action”

The most diverse international stakeholders who operate in South Sudan display different understandings of humanitarian action, peace- or state-building and development, and through a variety of policy frameworks. This notwithstanding, they share a common heritage of representations about the indigenous people which, while readjusted to the current globalization of politics, can be traced back to the colonial state. Drawing on long-term professional experience with Médecins Sans Frontières and on ethnographic research among the Murle people of South Sudan, this talk will examine processes of differentiation among aid actors who negotiate definitions of humanitarian concepts and related practices within a common system of international governance. The call is both for practitioners and scholars to review current paradigms of knowledge and practice.


Chairs and moderators

Sadio Ba Gning, Assistant Professor, Université Gaston Berger, Saint Louis (Sénégal), Co-Chair of the Humanitarian Encyclopedia Scientific Committee

Clara Egger, Research lead, Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action

Doris Schopper, Director, Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action

We’re Hiring !

Humanitarian Knowledge Manager (80%-100%)

For the “Humanitarian Encyclopedia” project

CERAH (Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action)

Geneva, Switzerland

Knowledge Management

Simply defined, Knowledge Management refers to “making the right knowledge available to the right people”. The management of knowledge is particularly crucial in humanitarian action as it enables humanitarian actors to learn from and capitalise on their experience in challenging and unpredictable crisis contexts. As a process knowledge management implies to identify the needs of humanitarian organizations, follow the trends in knowledge creation and production in the sector as well as design strategies to make available and ultimately manage such knowledge to support humanitarian actors.

Knowledge management is a central element of the Humanitarian Encyclopedia project which aims to offer a clear and comprehensive reference framework to an increasingly diverse humanitarian community, enhanced by local and contextualized knowledge, and the opportunity to use, share, and co-create further references,

By assessing different meanings, perceptions, uses and applications of concepts, by leveraging academic research and engaging humanitarian stakeholders in reflecting on these, and by offering an innovative digital knowledge-sharing tool, the Humanitarian Encyclopedia platform and partners will:

  • Improve mutual understanding among practitioners by equipping them with a tool to understand each other’s stance on humanitarian action and thus to improve communication and coordination;
  • Accompany the localization of humanitarian knowledge by reflecting how emerging humanitarian actors and local community leaders understand and perceive humanitarian action and thus contribute to a ‘new’ humanitarian narrative;
  • Make the sector more legible to external stakeholders such as media, governments, military, and the general public;
  • Contribute to the training of current and future generations of humanitarian practitioners and the enhancement of humanitarian studies.

About the CERAH

CERAH, the Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action, is a joint initiative of the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID). Bringing together a multitude of academic and humanitarian actors, the CERAH offers a wide range of postgraduate programmes for humanitarian professionals and a research portfolio in humanitarian studies, both of which strengthen reflection on and enhance humanitarian practice. Its broad stakeholder base, including academia and humanitarian organizations worldwide, allows the CERAH to pursue multicultural and highly participatory perspectives in all of its endeavours.



Job Description

Under the supervision of the Director, the responsibilities of the Knowledge Manager are to:

Develop the Humanitarian Encyclopedia practitioners’ network

  • The Knowledge manager is the key reference person for humanitarian practitioners. S/he connects with the main stakeholders of the humanitarian sector, identifying and addressing their needs and expectations.
  • S/he strengthens partnerships and makes the bridge between partners’ knowledge production and the Humanitarian Encyclopedia platform. By doing s/he:
    • Establishes a “win-win” strategy, e.g. by promoting relevant knowledge material from partners through the Encyclopedia interface
    • Ensures the Encyclopedia delivers added value through expertise provided by academics and humanitarian practitioners

Develop a Knowledge Management Strategy for the Humanitarian Encyclopedia project

  • Develop and implement a Knowledge Management (KM) strategy including protocol, processes and necessary partner and staff capacity to document, use and share knowledge assets with the main stakeholders of the Humanitarian Encyclopedia. The KM strategy should support research, learning, and communications, and deliver quality services to the academic and humanitarian communities.
  • Segment the humanitarian stakeholders and identify additional value each segment is expecting from the HE initiative
  • Facilitate – through the digital platform – identification, consolidation, curation, and organization of new and existing knowledge material around humanitarian concepts and practices
  • Collaborate with the Research Lead to evaluate research outputs and define the best dissemination and transmission of this knowledge to stakeholders.
  • Collaborate with the Humanitarian Encyclopedia platform product owner and the community manager to define content and features needed to achieve proper knowledge dissemination

Learning and Collaboration

  • Identify key trends and emerging concerns in the humanitarian sector, as well as opportunities and challenges to facilitate effective knowledge management, and propose an approach to create a culture of learning
  • Promote learning efforts, learning opportunities and systematization to ensure accessibility and delivery of expected materials to stakeholders in a variety of contexts
  • Maintain network communication around new KM developments
  • Act as ambassador of the Humanitarian Encyclopedia




  • Contribute to the development of a communication strategy in collaboration with the extended team to increase the use of knowledge products by different audiences
  • Ensure the smooth functioning of the Advisory board, including preparation of bi-annual plenary meetings and ad-hoc meetings as needed

Qualifications required


Master’s Degree with emphasis on organizational development/management, learning/pedagogy, knowledge strategy, and/or related areas.


  • Long-standing working experience (10 years +) in the humanitarian sector
  • At least 3 years of relevant working experience in the knowledge management field

Knowledge and skills

  • Highly connected with the humanitarian sector globally
  • Understanding of the conceptual framework for Knowledge Management processes, with an emphasis on institutionalizing behaviors and systems for learning and using knowledge.
  • Proficient in simplifying complex concepts and explaining them to others
  • Strong interpersonal and diplomacy skills, and the ability to work across teams with people of diverse cultures and backgrounds.
  • Ability to work collaboratively with various stakeholders
  • Excellent research, writing, and analytical skills
  • Experience with managing knowledge repositories is a plus

Behavioural competencies

  • Ability to prioritize competing tasks and meet deadlines
  • Highly organized, results-oriented, responsible, dedicated, independent worker
  • Able to make the most of limited resources while working effectively in a team
  • Proactive self-starter, creative problem-solver
  • Ability to be flexible and productive under pressure


  • Excellent English speaking and writing skills
  • Proven ability to write clear, structured and user-centric content
  • Working knowledge of French is an asset


Starting in November 2018 or as soon as possible; one year-contract renewable on a yearly basis.

Interested persons should send their application (letter of interest, curriculum vitae, copies of work certificates, copies of diplomas, copy of passport, copy of resident permit) to Joëlle Gentile at by September 16, 2018

Click here to apply

Next stop: Kuala Lumpur – Excellent meeting with Mercy Malaysia staff

The Humanitarian Encyclopedia team carries on its Asian Journey in Malaysia.

We organised our second workshop with Mercy Malaysia staff. An incredible and interactive session, thank you all!!!


Oscar A. Gomez (Research fellow at JICA – Japan International Cooperation Agency | Research Institute) was supporting the Humanitarian Encyclopedia team in the facilitation process. Oscar A. Gomez is a member of the Humanitarian Encyclopedia scientific committee.


Tomorrow, we will have a second meeting in Kuala Lumpur with humanitarian practitioners from Malaysian organisations.

Both these workshops would not have been possible without the support of our partner Mercy Malaysia, and the strong commitment of its president Dato’ Dr. Ahmad Faizal Perdaus, member of the Advisory Board of the Humanitarian Encyclopedia.


Workshop in New Delhi – August 6th

20 participants from diverse humanitarian organisations took part to the Humanitarian Encyclopedia Workshop in New Delhi on August 6th.

It was the first inter-organisational workshop of a long series, and this event was made possible thanks to our partner organisations: AIDMI and SEEDS.

If you connect on Facebook you will hear Mihir Bhatt, Director of All India Disaster Mitigation Institute, talks about how Humanitarian Encyclopedia has helped build coherence to ideas between global and local actors, on how it has enabled effective collaboration between them, and took joy in having met people who will continue to build the project together, in India and across the world.

Manu Gupta, Co-founder of SEEDS India, expressing his delight in having co-host the Humanitarian Encyclopedia Initiative in Delhi.

‘It meant a lot to us and the humanitarian world here in India to have participated in this program’, he said. ‘We are now part of a new global architecture of a common universal language.’

Next workshops will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from August 9th to August 11th.

Keep posted!

Summer time and regional workshop tour !

Dear Humanitarian Encyclopedia friends and followers,

It’s Summer time and many of you will enjoy some Holidays.

Meanwhile the Humanitarian Encyclopedia team is preparing a regional workshop tour, gathering humanitarian practitioners in Asia (India and Malaysia), Africa (Mali and Kenya) and Middle East (Lebanon and Iraq) from August to September.

A real opportunity for every humanitarian practitioner to shape her/his humanitarian encyclopedia.

Follow us on the Encyclopedia website,  and twitter #ShapeMyHE


Enjoy a well deserved break!

Your Humanitarian Encyclopedia Team

Have you Heard?

On the occasion of its 35th anniversary, the organization Handicap International changed its name to become Humanity & Inclusion. Being part of HI’s network, the Foundation also changed its name.

The HI Institute on Humanitarian Action is a great partner and supporter of the Humanitarian Encyclopedia.

Dr Nathalie Herlemont  – Director of the HI Foundation – has recently be nominated as co-chair of the Advisory Board of the HE. HI Foundation will also greatly support the organisation of two workshops in Iraq, scheduled for September 2018.

Go and read their annual report – freshly released!- you will see their new logo, and another one (tree shape)… that probably looks familiar.


On June 21st, longest day of the year, the Humanitarian Encyclopedia team was delighted to welcome 11 workshop participants at CERAH to test for the first time the 8 hours workshop format based on a rigorous and replicable methodology.

It was a rich session for participants as well as organisers. It gave us the opportunity to improve the format and fine tune content for the first regional workshops that will be held in India and Malaysia early August.

We thank all the participants for their motivation, their excellent work and contribution!

Follow next events on twitter @ #ShapeMyHE