CAS: Locally-led Humanitarian Action

Locally-Led Humanitarian Action

This program offers important insights into one of the most pressing issues in humanitarian action – the need for a stronger localization and better integration and participation of populations affected by crises. Localization has become a buzzword in the humanitarian sector. A key commitment of the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit and resulting Grand Bargain, localization aims at making humanitarian action as local as possible and as international as necessary. Responding to demands to make humanitarian responses more efficient and inclusive, localization requires a wide range of changes of the ways in which humanitarian organizations work as well as the structure and functions of the humanitarian sector. Over the last years humanitarian organizations have sought to live up to their commitments and reformed their way of working – so far with limited progress.

 This is due to significant challenges, and there remains a great need among humanitarian organizations for practical methods that involve affected populations in the planning and implementation of humanitarian action. For many NGOs, finding new local partners with whom to implement humanitarian projects from a distance is a major challenge. Many organizations are unsure how to solve difficult problems with their partners without jeopardizing the partnership. There is also uncertainty about what role German humanitarian organizations will play in the future and how they can shape the partnership with their local partner organizations.

Competence Profile

This program introduces you to the concept of localization and the associated reform efforts in the humanitarian sector. Successful implementation of the commitments made requires knowledge of methods and tools that you can use to initiate the necessary changes. In a series of courses, you will gain knowledge of practical tools and innovative approaches for the participation of local actors and affected populations. You will be able to critically question established ways of working and functioning in the humanitarian sector as well as to identify new and innovative ways for localizing humanitarian action. Upon completion of the program, you will have acquired relevant skills in partner work and be empowered to contribute to a more inclusive, locally-led humanitarian system.

Learning Objectives

  • Create awareness for the importance of localization in the humanitarian sector
  • Enhance knowledge of commitments and major obstacles for implementing localization in the humanitarian sector
  • Gain insights into best practices and proven tools and approaches to localization and participation
  • Learn about specific approaches and methods for your own work and try out/apply them in practice-oriented workshops
  • Exchange with other professionals about best-practices in localization and partner work

Teaching and Learning Methodology

  • Online and on site trainings
  • Lectures
  • Group work
  • Group discussion
  • Case studies
  • Group presentations

Examination formats

  • Written exam (open questions, multiple choice questions)
  • Oral examination (individual or group work)
  • Final presentations in the course


  • Our instructors are experienced trainers who have several years of experience in humanitarian action or development policy practice as well as experience in teaching and leading workshops and trainings

Target audience and admission requirements

The program is designed for staff of humanitarian organizations with several years of experience in humanitarian action or in development cooperation. We also admit a limited number of junior professionals who are currently employed by a humanitarian organization and have at least 6 months of field experience. On a case-by-case basis, experienced individuals with other qualifications may be considered. For definitive admission, a short letter of motivation is also required when registering for each course.

Currently, aha offers courses in German or English. Good language skills are strongly recommended. However, we cannot guarantee that all five courses required to obtain the CAS are available in only one language. Please check the respective course page for the language of instruction of the courses and make sure that you are capable of independent language use (B1/B2 of the European Framework of Reference) of the course language. Otherwise, we will not be able to admit you to the course. The applicable admission requirements for the individual courses can be found on the respective course website.


A “Certificate of Advanced Studies” is a further education degree at master's level and obtaining a CAS is two-step procedure. First, you have to complete five courses in ITP format, each with one ECTS-point from the respective subject area. The courses can be chosen individually based on the courses offered on the aha webpage in each core track.  Afterwards, you can register for the final examination in the form of a 10 to 15 page essay by sending an e-mail to aha-anmeldungen(at) with proof of the five completed courses. You will receive all relevant information for the final exam as well as a selection of possible topics for the essay by e-mail. The essay paper is worth an additional 5 ECTS. After you have passed the final exam, we will immediately issue you with a certificate.

Quality Control

To ensure the quality of the courses, there is the possibility to give feedback after each course by means of an anonymous and standardized evaluation procedure. The evaluations are immediately assessed and flow into the qualitative development of the course offer, the selection of trainers and the organization of the program.


The courses will be held online or in different locations in Germany. The locations are indicated in the course section.

Application and Fees

You need to apply for each individual course of your certificate via the registration button in the course section. Please note that some courses are free of charge and others charge a participation fee. Spots are allocated according to availability. If a course is fully booked, kindly register for another one. Course participants must cover the costs for own transportation, meals besides the course catering, and accommodation. A list of cost-effective accommodation options can be provided by the course organizers.


Courses are offered on a rolling basis. Over time, more courses will be added meaning that you can start your certificate whenever you want. The schedule for your Certificate of Advanced Studies is flexible, just like we are. You can register for any of the unlocked courses that fit in your schedule. You will be the first to know when a new course is offered via our newsletter. You can also decide at any time whether you would like to complete a "Certificate of Advanced Studies" after taking individual courses. It is only important that you take part in the exams of the training. A certificate can usually be acquired within 1 to 2 years.


If you have any questions, feel free to contact us using the form below!

Citizen and Community-Led Crisis Response

Fully booked

© Islamic Relief/Libanon

Integrating local response and spontaneous self-help in crisis situations after a natural disaster or a conflict is not an easy task. This training developed and conducted by the Local2Global Protection Initiative (L2GP) will help you understand and support survivor and community-led crisis responses (sclr) in a manner that fits local realities and adds to resources already present with affected citizens and communities. This hands-on training introduces you to the core elements in this way of working. The focus is on practical experience with the tools you need to support genuinely community-led responses that serve both immediate needs but also attempts to reduce future vulnerability and increase resilience of crisis-affected communities.

Please note: The booking of this course is being administered by the Ruhr-University Bochum Academy (RUB Academy). You will be forwarded to the external booking page when clicking on the registration button.

Partner Assessment

Fully booked

© ADH Database_Trappe

For many NGOs it is a huge challenge to find new partner organisations in project countries with whom they can implement humanitarian projects. In this seminar we will discuss the following questions: What is partnership and what are important aspects in a partnership for your organisation? How can potential partner organisations find common understandings of partnership? How can a partner assessment that is based on reciprocity (where not only capacities of the local partner are assessed) be carried out? What are different methods to conduct assessments? What are specific requirements from donors (esp. GFFO) with regard to partner selection (e.g. financial, structural)? How can you find out if possible partner organisations fit your organisation and your organisation’s way of working (‘soft skills’ of cooperation besides financial or structural checks)? How can assessments be harmonised and results be shared among different organisations to enhance transparency and to avoid duplication of work?

This course will take place on 04 and 11 March from 09 am to 12:30 pm and on 23 and 30 March from 09 am to 01 pm. Between the different course sessions, you will engange in self-learning phases and group work.

Design Thinking Course

Fully booked

© Aktion Deutschland Hilft/Brockmann

This course gives you an introduction into design thinking as a method. You will learn innovative methods to generate ideas and will also test it in practice. We will focus on humanitarian project work and design thinking exercises with people on the move, displaced persons or refugees. The course draws on entrepreneurial approaches but makes them applicable to humanitarian project work.

Please note: This course will be held in German and requires at least a working level of German language skills. For more information check the German section of this page (choose language settings at the right hand corner). The training is part of aha's certification scheme and can be credited towards a Certificate of Advanced Studies in "Locally-led Humanitarian Action".

Partner Dialogue

Fully booked

© VENRO / Karoline Krähling

Many organizations are not sure how they can raise difficult issues with their partners without endangering the partnership. In an online learning series, you will discuss how difficult issues such as corruption prevention, safeguarding or conflict resolution can be addressed and discussed in a partnership. You will learn how to maintain a trusting partnership.

This course will be held on 16 and 23 June as well as on 7 July, 2021. and includes regular breaks. It is eligible for the Certificate of Advanced Studies in "Locally-led Humanitarian Action".

Remote Participatory Video: Capturing Voices without Filters

Fully booked


Participatory Video is a process where people jointly develop a story and make a film to visualize and discuss an issue that is important for them. By going through the process together, the participants acquire a deep context understanding, capture voices without filters and build a trustful relationship. The process is more important than the final video produced. At the same time, screening the film gives the opportunity to invite others into a meaningful dialogue about the topic.  See the trailer Remote Participatory Video – a space for the unheard voices here.

The method replies to the need to work more local and more inclusive in international cooperation – even remotely.  The method can be used among others for assessment, evaluation, research and lobby and advocacy purposes. In this course, you will apply the method and will remotely co-create a video story. A topic with complexity – e.g. behavior change or emotionally touching issues- will be explored and translated into a story. The training ends with a screening and is thus an opportunity for you to apply the method in your workplace right away. 

The online training will take place from 26 October to 4 November 2021 and includes regular breaks. The course is eligible for the Certificate of Advanced Studies in “Locally-led Humanitarian Action”. You will receive further information and registration details in due time via our newsletter. Please note: There will be a final screening session of 2 hours, however the date is yet to be determined.

Participatory Methods in Humanitarian Action - Navigating Ownership, Opportunities and Dilemmas

Fully booked

© Anisa Goshi

The Grand Bargain has boldly called for a “participation revolution” in humanitarian action. However, truly designing projects from the bottom up, with and for people who are directly affected by crises, often proves difficult in practice. Not every method fits everywhere and with each community. Time pressure and moral dilemmas make it even harder.

In this training we are looking in detail at what methods are available and which to select at what time. This requires a good look at the context, our own roles and responsibilities, and limitations of methods and mandates. The training itself is designed in a highly engaging way getting you to use the methods from the outset.

The online training will take place between 17 November, 22 November and 01 December 2021 and includes group-learning activities. The course is eligible for the Certificate of Advanced Studies in “Locally-led Humanitarian Action”.

People-First Impact Method (P-FIM)

Fully booked

© Aktion Deutschland Hilft / Eva Beyer

People-First Impact Method (P-FIM) is a community engagement tool where communities lead in identifying important issues and activities in their lives. The starting point is people and communities, not projects or agencies. It builds transparency, shared learning and trust between all stakeholders, especially the community, local government and agencies. P-FIM strengthens communication with affected people as a basis for accurate information gathering, understanding context and facilitating active engagement. It can be used for assessments, monitorings and evaluation. As a participant, you will qualify to facilitate P-FIM exercises.

The course is planned as a face-to-face training in Berlin from 28 March to 1 April 2022 and includes regular breaks.