by Dr. Shailendra
Now that the phase of rescue and acute care is over, one of the important needs of the people in Gujarat is counselling. While there are many to provide material aid in the form of blankets, food and water, temporary housing, etc, there are few who are willing to help people come to terms with the reality of their lives. The need for this is increasing, as individuals are gradually coming to realise the impact of what has happened.
Why psychosocial activities are necessary
Experience shows that psychosocial activities are necessary to stabilise and improve the strong
reactions people have in emergency situations. In other words, such activities are necessary to treat
"normal reactions" in "abnormal situations". The established framework such as authorities, family and
social structures no longer function and the lack of these lead to chaos. Necessary structure and
organisation must be reinforced. Psychosocial activities should be take place withing three months after
the state of emergency, and the best time is between the first and sixth week after the injury. But even if
activities are taken after this time, it will still have a positive effect.
Objectives for psychosocial work
The object for all psychosocial work in difficult emergency situations will be to promote:
peace-building and restorative energy
local competence in psychosocial work
strengthening of the weaker groups
Women, children and the elderly must come first Pesons with serious physical damage and psychological trauma must be cared for.
To be used will be to:
support existing psychological and social protective factors
strengthen the network
reduce stress factors
encourage active participation and responsibility within the target group
strengthen personal abilities so as to bing about personal healing
crisis intervention in well established groups
individual approach starting with psysical ailments
identifying and offering rehabilitation to violent and psychotic persons
facilitate religious ceremonies
facilitate rituals for death and sorrow
The methods shall consistently be carried through with cultural sensitivity and respect.
Building an emergency preparedness team for psychosocial activities
In order to attain preparedness for psychosocial work and develop competence, Norwegian Church Aid has established an emergency preparedness team consisting of 10 persons.
1. Identifying the group
Norwegian Church Aid handles the recruiting process and the final approval of the team.
2. Formal and practical competence
Relevant background for persons in this emergency preparedness team is found in either the areas of health, social and diaconal professions or pedagogic competence. In addition we are looking for mature, flexible and robust persons who are used to working independently, who have the ability to
mobilise others, organise projects and who also have skills in the areas of teaching, guidance or training. The ability to function in stress situations and the capacity to tackle suffering and discomfort are valuable personal qualities. In order tot qualify for membership in the emergency preparedness team, the candidates must be in a situation both at home and at work that will allow for travel at short notice.
3. Mobilising local co-coperating partners
Members of the psychosocial preparedness team have participated in a training programme. This
training programme included knowledge and understanding of the problems at hand, the underlying
reasons and proposals for solution. A training package or manual for use in the field will be developed.
Thematic areas of the training programme:
1. Organisational structures and framework
For Norwegian Church Aid: strategies and plans, systems for reporting and other routines, ACT, local co-operating partners.
For the UN system and other organisations and functions in complex emergency situations.
1. Security in complex emergency situations.
2. Why psychosocial work / theoretic understanding
Trauma theory and trauma treatment
How to understand traumatic suffering
About strengthening the strong (resilience research)
The importance of the social milieu
Psychosocial work and human rights
Gender perspective in psychosocial work
Guidance for co-workers
Helping the helpers / guidance and stress management
1. Various approaches in psychosocial work in emergency situations: basic principles and ideas in
the development of models within
activities in the local milieu
activities in the network
self help methods
local participation / co-workers
bottom up strategies
1. Understanding the cultural context
cross cultural communication - about understanding yourself and others
conflict management and working through conflicts
how to use local, cultural and religious traditions in psychosocial work
gender perspective and family structures
1. How to build partnership and local acceptance of methods in an emergency situation
How to develop methods for problem analysis and common understanding as a basis for
Selecting people and co-operating partners in the project
How to nurture and develop available resources.
1. How to build local competence and capacity
Assembling a training programme for local partners:
Training in psychosocial work:
theoretical understanding and methodical approach and development
taking it one step at a time
guidance and development of co-operating partners
Training of other functions in the project:
reporting / evaluating
taking care of each other
For details contact:
Dr. Shailendra Awale
CMAI Eartquake Relief Office
C/o Hotel King Palace (Room No:303)
Opp. Hotel CAMA
Mobile : 9811-004716