Home | Newsletter | Rémi Russbach

The Groupe URD Review

Methods and tools

CHS Core Humanitarian Standard (CHS)
Pictogrammme Sigmah Sigmah Software
Pictogrammme Reaching Resilience

Reaching Resilience
Pictogrammme brochure Environnement Training
Pictogrammme brochure Participation Handbook
Pictogrammme COMPAS COMPAS Method
Pictogrammme globe terrestre The Quality Mission
Pictogrammme PRECIS Humatem PRECIS Method

Rémi Russbach
Vice-President of the ‘Société internationale de médecine de catastrophe’, founding member of the ‘Geneva Foundation to protect health in war’ and part of Groupe URD’ governing board

Rémi Russbach,
Vice-President of the ‘Société internationale de médecine de catastrophe’, founding member of the ‘Geneva Foundation to protect health in war’ and part of Groupe URD’ governing board

Groupe URD is already 20 years old!

I was immediately interested in Groupe URD because its raison d’être follows on from my professional career with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which was mainly focused on protecting the health of victims of violent conflicts and on directing humanitarian aid towards the real needs of people in distress rather than those of donors.

Groupe URD’s position is unique as it acts as a bridge between humanitarian organisations who have to deal with the practical difficulties in the field and academics who often study humanitarian questions from a position which is too withdrawn from the practical constraints of each situation.
A key characteristic of Groupe URD is its ability to observe situations from a certain distance, something which field organisations find it difficult to maintain. The observatories in Chad and Haiti are a good example of this complementarity between aid organisations and the observers.
Well before people began to talk about the continuum, Groupe URD considered that humanitarian action should not be limited to emergency relief and should prepare the foundations for subsequent development, while, if possible, avoiding the creation of needs which were impossible to satisfy in the long term.

The complementary nature of Groupe URD’s different activities, and their links with the learning cycle, makes them coherent and productive.

The evaluation of different organisations’ humanitarian programmes allow Groupe URD to collect innumerable examples of successes, failures and constraints from which to learn and use as the basis of training courses for future managers. Its participation in numerous training courses, including in the field, allow it to share its experience and broaden its network.

Methods for steering humanitarian action developed by Groupe URD like the Quality COMPAS and Sigmah are precious tools for decision-making as they favour continuous, made-to-measure reflection rather than one-size-fits-all ideas which are rarely applicable in humanitarian crisis situations where parameters and constraints are extremely volatile.
Groupe URD’s credibility is the result of its unique experience in the field and the professionalism of its intellectual input.
Its independence is a considerable asset which should be protected at all costs. It allows it to sometimes act as an « intellectual troublemaker », to express novel and creative opinions and thus question certain methods which have become habits. This role provides a great service to people in crisis situations and those who provide them with aid.
It is to be hoped that, in the future, Groupe URD will maintain the freshness, creativity and enthusiasm that it has at 20 years of age, because despite the enormous progress that has been made in terms of humanitarian and development aid, there is much that remains to be done and maintained. Groupe URD can still be of great use in contributing to the development of national, European and international humanitarian strategies, due to its close ties with the field and its realism.

Its great strength is the motivation and experience of its staff.
Its weakness is chronic uncertainty about its funding which sometimes makes its administration stressful. Would it be possible to gain greater financial security without selling our soul to the devil or are we condemned to live from hand to mouth?

Let us wish Groupe URD continued youth and its staff much creativity. May we never lose sight of our raison d’être and may our organisation always remain human-scaled so that we remain flexible.