By continuing to browse this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Read our privacy policy

Free courses for impact professionals

Author photo

by John Evans
Career Coach

Kaya is a global online learning platform for the humanitarian sector which hosts the training products from the Humanitarian Leadership Academy. Kaya provides 500+ free online courses to over 260,000 humanitarians worldwide. For people seeking a move into the humanitarian sector it is a very valuable window onto a new world. In this article I have chosen five of the free courses that you can audit and benefit from if you are seeking to move into the humanitarian or development sector.


  1. Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability


The Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) helps organisations and individuals how to ensure they deliver quality, effective and accountable humanitarian responses. The CHS contains Nine Commitments, which are explained in this elearning course. Each commitment includes key actions and organisational responsibilities ("what you should be doing") and indicators ("are you doing it right?").


This one to two hour, online, self-directed, free e-learning course introduces the CHS. Even if you do not work for a humanitarian organisation yet or are not involved in programme delivery, it is useful for everyone to know about the Nine Commitments, as it will help you to understand why humanitarian organisations act in certain ways. The course is available in English, French, Arabic, Swahili and Bengali. 


  1. Introduction to International Humanitarian Law

This introductory course, developed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), on the basics of International Humanitarian Law is principally addressed to humanitarian practitioners, policy-makers and other professionals who are keen on understanding how and when this body of law applies, and whom it protects.


In this interactive e-learning course, you will learn about the basic questions relating to the law of armed conflict, or International Humanitarian Law (IHL). You will learn about the origins and sources of this body of law, as well as to which situations it applies. You will also learn how to distinguish international from non-international armed conflicts. You will find out more about the specific rules protecting civilians, detainees, the wounded and sick, as well as medical personnel.


By the end of the five hour course, you will have a better grasp of the three key principles in IHL that regulate the conduct of hostilities - distinction, proportionality and precautions – and will be able to illustrate how they limit the effects of armed conflict on the civilian population. Finally, you will also learn how IHL is implemented, what happens when violations occur, and what the ICRC’s role is in promoting respect for this body of law.


The course is available in English, French and Spanish.


  1. Volunteer Essentials Pathway


For those with no experience of the sector, volunteering can be an invaluable way of exploring options and demonstrating commitment. The Volunteer Essentials Pathway complements the experience of volunteering by offering an engaging, interactive, scenario-focused pathway that introduces valuable skills and knowledge needed to flourish in the humanitarian sector. It was primarily designed for new volunteers and includes four modules which are outlined below:


Module: Volunteering in the humanitarian context

  • Identify who fills various roles within humanitarian response.
  • Describe the activities that take place at each phase of humanitarian response.
  • Identify the roles that can be taken on by volunteers.
  • Understand basic terminology of the humanitarian programme cycle.

Module: Applying humanitarian principles as a volunteer

  • Understand the key humanitarian principles, and how they apply to common tasks and dilemmas. 
  • Identify and take action in situations where humanitarian action might result in unintended harm. 

Module: Volunteer communication and accountability

  • Understand the importance of accountability to affected people and the role that communication plays in this. 
  • Identify opportunities and methods to improve communication with crisis-affected people. 
  • Identify ways to work more collaboratively and effectively with others who are also responding to a crisis, as well as with crisis-affected individuals. 

Module: Volunteer safety and wellbeing

  • Identify and suggest ways to reduce safety and security risks and threats. 
  • Identify personal qualities that may impact risks during certain volunteer assignments, and suggest ways to reduce risks based on these qualities. 
  • Plan how to manage stress during volunteer assignments.

Completing the full Pathway will take about 2.5 - 3 hours and the Pathway is free.


  1. An Introduction to Proposal and Report Writing


Proposal and report writing is different in humanitarian and development contexts – and massively important. This course aims to give learners a foundational understanding of the proposal and report writing processes and was written for people beginning their career in the humanitarian sector.


The free, five star rated, course takes between 1 and 2 hours to complete and learners can exit at any time. When you return, you will be taken back to where you left off.


  1. Introduction to MEAL


In the context of programme and project management, MEAL is an acronym for Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning. This free course introduces each component of MEAL, its purpose and benefits.

This free, one hour, course explains what MEAL is – its individual parts, its overall structure and its purpose and benefits. It covers the five key steps in the MEAL Phase Model and explains the benefits of a strong MEAL system supported by common ethical principles. This course also explores the ways in which MEAL should be considered as part of the larger project plan.


This course is a part of the FIELD Programme - a ground-breaking, free capacity building initiative for field managers. FIELD’s focus is to develop the pool of local, national, and international staff who can prepare for and take charge of in-country operational programmes in humanitarian responses. FIELD is completely self-directed. All learning resources are available on-demand and learners can access the learning material wherever, whenever and however best suits their needs. The FIELD Programme can be taken at your own pace and at a time convenient to you, whether online, or offline.

Kaya is designed to be accessed from ‘phones, tablets, laptops and PCs, so learners can use it whenever and wherever they are. The platform can be accessed in either English, French, Spanish or Arabic; with some courses available in a range of languages. Kaya can also be used without an internet connection by downloading the courses you want to audit onto the Kaya Mobile app and syncing your progress back to your profile when you are next online!

Kaya, in my view, is an excellent window onto a world that many of my clients are seeking to enter: one that help applicants gain a hearing throughout the selection process.



The Humanitarian Leadership Academy is part of the Save the Children Fund - a charity registered in England and Wales (213890) and Scotland (SC039570), and a registered company limited by guarantee (178159). 


More about Impactpool's career coach John Evans:


Formerly Global Practice Leader at World Vision International, John pioneered the charities’ global leader orientation, talent and succession management and education processes, leadership assessment, coaching and Moodle-based online career development services during a period of continuous change. Previously, as Global Consulting Development Leader for Hewitt Associates (now Aon) John led the build and launch of the global consulting focused “Hewitt University”. Before promotion, John led Hewitt Associates’ European OD consulting practice. In addition to this charitable and financial services track record, John has significant consulting experience gained as a Fellow in Leadership and Organisational Development with the London-based Office for Public Management Ltd. John has been coaching for well over twenty years.

Book A Session with John Evans

Related articles

Show more articles