WarTrauma’s impact evaluation of the Psychological First Aid (PFA) intervention during the Ebola crisis and its aftermath in Sierra Leone and Liberia provided many insights, including into the relationship between aidworkers and academics.
During the 5th bi-annual World Conference on Humanitarian Studies in The Hague, the Centre for Humanitarian Action (CHA) and KUNO (Humanitarian Knowledge Exchange) organised a discussion on the relation between humanitarian practitioners and academics. Our PFA Impact Evaluation proofed to be an example in itself.
There is a continuous cycle between practitioners and researchers, with practitioners providing knowledge and data in the research context, and researchers’ results improving the humanitarian response. However, there is also a clear tension between academics desire for advancing knowledge and aidworkers’ priority of addressing acute crises.
Dr. Rebecca Esliker, head of department and mental health specialist from the University of Makeni in Sierra Leone – through a live video link – and Relinde Reiffers, WarTrauma researcher, stated that practitioners and academics need to know each other’s contexts and needs. Where researchers have the advantage of the outsiders perspective, the practitioners have the advantage of a deep understanding of the context.
The PFA Impact Evaluation was carried out by a consortium including the University of Makeni in Sierra Leone, LiCORMH in Liberia, Queen Margaret University in the UK, and the VU University and Wartrauma in the Netherlands. The PFA Impact Evaluation is supported by R2HC Elrha.