Home » Humanitarian Assistance / Disaster Relief 2024
Humanitarian Assistance / Disaster Relief 2024
course masthead - 202404 HADR


The Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) course provides an opportunity to share best practices and discussion on the government responses to natural and man-made catastrophes that occur frequently in the Western Hemisphere, one of the most disaster-prone regions of the world. The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are prone to geologic disasters (earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, landslides) and meteorological disasters (hurricanes, floods, severe rainfall, and droughts). Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of such events. Other disasters such as oil spills, industrial accidents, and plane accidents, for example, can be man-made. While the militaries in the region have an important HA/DR role, responses to these disasters require a whole-of-government effort and extensive inter-agency coordination to restore security and stability. Civil defense organizations, international relief organizations, and non-government organizations from civil society also normally play critical roles.



Application Period:
06 Nov 2023 -
15 Jan 2024
Online Phase:
22 Apr 2024 -
26 Apr 2024


This course is designed to provide opportunities to participants to:

  • Identify measures to improve the nation's abilities to respond to natural and man-made disasters.
  • Analyze and compare the nature and the scope of different perspectives on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) including response to natural disasters, defense support of civilian authorities, preservation of critical infrastructure, interagency coordination, and continuity of operations for the government.
  • Analyze risks associated with natural and man-made threats in terms of preparation, mitigation of risk, and response.
  • Examine ways to increase regional cooperation to respond to natural and man-made threats throughout the Western Hemisphere.
  • Assess the relevance and identify means for improving defense support to civil authorities.
  • Long-term planning & budgeting for defense & security sectors to account for climate change effects.


HA/DR is a week-long, fully virtual course that will take place on the ZoomGov platform. In this environment, participants have the unique experience of listening to and exchanging ideas with key civilian and military officials who work on HA/DR issues in the Western Hemisphere, including representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the Department of Homeland security (DHS), the Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), and numerous other government agencies that respond to HADR events. This provides exposure to diverse perspectives, responsibilities, bureaucratic considerations, and policy challenges and preferences. Among regional and international organizations, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Coordination Center for Disaster Prevention in Central America and the Dominican Republic (CEPREDENAC), and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN/OCHA) have participated in previous HA/DR courses to explain their role and contributions.

The curriculum combines lectures, question and answer sessions, moderated panels, and working group discussions and exercises led by Perry Center professors.


Ideally, participants in the course are those who have duties associated with HA/DR in their country. This may include positions in the national disaster response agency, the civil defense force, search and rescue organizations, and military units specifically tasked to respond to HA/DR crises. Participants who can speak directly of HA/DR experience and policy boost the value of the discussion.

The course will operate in a completely virtual environment. As such, the usual restrictions affecting Western Hemisphere nations designated as “high income” by the World Bank do not apply.

Candidates must possess a university degree or, in cases where a candidate does not hold a degree, equivalent practical experience. Military and police personnel must have completed a command and staff course or equivalent. Exceptions are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

This course is conducted in both English and Spanish. Simultaneous interpretation will be provided during plenary sessions. Participants will be organized into single-language working groups for discussion and exercises.


CDR (ret.) Pat Paterson, PhD
Dr. Patrick Paterson
Course Director