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GOAL Safeguarding Team Rolls Out Psychological First Aid (PFA) Training to multidisciplinary teamswith pilot in Niger


June 26, 2023 • 2 min read

From May to June 2023, and following on from an ICGBV (Irish Consortium of Gender Based Violence) Train the Trainers course, GOAL’s Global Safeguarding Team rolled out PFA training for our multidisciplinary teams, with a significant pilot programme already in place for GOAL Niger field staff to support their refugee response programme. In Niger, the GOAL team translated the training into French, and conducted a series of trainings for their local partner, ADKOUL, and 60 field staff were trained in PFA.

PFA plays an integral role in supporting GOAL’s aim to support vulnerable communities in moving ‘From Crisis to Resilience’ in line with our Strategy 2025. When humanitarian disasters occur, the psychological damage that is inflicted upon vulnerable groups has the potential to be equally as devastating as the physical damage, particularly because the risk of sexual violence increases during such disasters. Ultimately, PFA aims to mitigate the initial distress resulting from traumatic events and to foster short and long-term adaptive functioning skills, empowering disaster-affected communities to move from crisis to resilience.

As developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the National Centre for PTSD, with contributions from individuals involved in disaster research and response, the PFA training rests upon four action principles: Prepare, Look, Listen, and Link. This refers to the importance of preparing for the crisis, understanding the crisis, supporting the person affected by the crisis, and linking the crisis-affected person up with the relevant services. GOAL is a first responder providing life-saving humanitarian relief, and providing mental health support to crisis-affected populations allows us to deliver our ‘People Survive Crisis’ goal in our Strategy 2025: From Crisis to Resilience.

The initial training targeted 85 staff from multiple departments, including safeguarding, GESI (Gender, Equality, & Social Inclusion), emergency response, HR and Country Desk teams. Within two weeks of receiving PFA training, GOAL Niger implemented the training for front-line staff in their native French.

Speaking about the significance of PFA training in GOAL programming, Mandy Yamanis, our Global Safeguarding Advisor, said: “As humanitarian crises continue to increase in number, magnitude, and complexity around the globe, rolling out PFA training to GOAL field staff has become a priority for our aid agency. According to the UNHCR, over 110 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced by conflict or climate change. Our staff need to be equipped with the knowledge and expertise necessary to mitigate the psychological impact of these interconnected crises, to prevent regressive coping behaviours among disaster-affected populations and safeguard the most vulnerable people in our society.”

“We’re rolling out PFA training to field staff in Niger, where programme activity has expanded significantly over the past year to include a refugee response programme supporting Malian refugees in the Tillaberi region. And we are implementing this training both directly and indirectly via our local partner in the region, ADKOUL. The GOAL South Sudan team is also integrating PFA into their emergency response activities to support the thousands of refugees fleeing the conflict in Sudan,” concluded Mandy Yamanis.