Our Expertise Centre Humanitarian Communication is a non-profit organization committed to better communication on international development. We consider representation and discourse as integral to the production of the Global South and sees the communication on (the needs of) developing nations and peoples by government, industry, NGOs and the media in the Global North as part of the problem of (the failure of) international development and worldwide issues of poverty, inequality and injustice. In other words, we do not consider humanitarian communication as a means to an end, but as part and parcel of the end itself.
We aim to contribute to an environment in which all players in international development can and will dare to learn more from each other, so that we can work more effectively towards a world without poverty, inequality and injustice that we all aspire to. On this website you can read how we try to make a contribution. Most visibly, we organize awareness events, notably the Humanitarian Communication Awards and the Humanitarian Communication Thesis Prize, and provide international development organizations with advice on how to do their humanitarian communication (strategies) better. In addition, we often host or participate in various workshops and other events throughout the year.
Better communication on so-called ‘developing countries’ in the Global South and an open discussion on international development (ID) are needed because the average citizen in the Netherlands (and the rest of the Global North) is too often confronted with a one-sided and stereotypical image of developing countries and their inhabitants. Our expertise centre helps development organizations (as well as news media) to avoid such unbalanced and ultimately harmful imaging. In addition, there is a lot of uncertainty among the general public about what ID organizations are. Too many discussions are based on a lack of historical awareness and current information. Our Expertise Centre Humanitarian Communication is therefore committed to an open and nuanced debate in which there is room for context and that is fed with facts and personal stories from different angles.
Here you can find (in Dutch) our official mission statement (‘doelstelling’) as formulated in our statutes (‘statuten’). If you are interested in our annual accounts, you can send an email request to our treasurer at [email protected]. An overview of all our activities can be found under Advice and Events.
Wouter Oomen is a Lecturer and PhD candidate at Utrecht University, working on a dissertation on humanitarian communication. Prior to pursuing his PhD, Wouter obtained his master’s degree and worked as a Lecturer at the Department of Media Studies of the University of Amsterdam. Alongside working on his dissertation, Wouter took an active role in the PhD communities of the RMeS and UGlobe and went to study at the London School of Economics as a visiting PhD. As one of the Managing Directors of our expertise centre, Wouter aims to broaden discussions about what ethical communication on international development actually means, and he does so through education, research, advice and advocacy.
Emiel Martens (PhD) is a media lecturer, researcher, and producer. He works as an Assistant Professor in Postcolonial Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam and as a Postdoc Researcher at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. His research interests span the fields of Postcolonial (Media) Studies, Popular Geopolitics, Alternative Media, Diversity and Migration Studies, and Film (and) Tourism, with a particular focus on Caribbean film and visual culture. Besides his university posts and position as Managing Co-Director at our Expertise Centre, Emiel is also the Founding Director of non-proft organization Caribbean Creativity and the producer of impact films such as Welcome to the Smiling Coast and Gifts from Babylon.
Anika Altaf (PhD) has over a decade of experience in the field of international development with a strong focus on Sub-Saharan Africa (Benin, Burkina-Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa) and South Asia (Bangladesh and Pakistan). She has a background in both Human Geography and International Development Studies and holds a PhD in ID from the University of Amsterdam. Her area of expertise is inclusive development and human wellbeing, specifically of the most marginalised people. She has ample experience in conducting participatory research and working with local communities and translating research into practice and policy. She currently works as a Knowledge Manager and Broker Inclusive Development.
Miriam Ocadiz is a PhD candidate at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She is part of the project Engaged Scholarship Narratives of Change where she focuses on the role of academia in contributing to the societal inclusion of refugees in South Africa. She has a bachelor in Hispanic Literature and Language (UNAM, Mexico) as well as International Studies (Leiden University, NL) and obtained a master in African Studies at the African Studies Center Leiden with a thesis on the Cuban medical cooperation in Mozambique and the contemporary embodiment of solidarity. As a board member Mimi aims to raise awareness around power imbalances in ID and support a more critical perspective on humanitarian communication.
Steyn Hoogakker is an independent action researcher, consultant and visual storyteller, with a background in Cultural Anthropology, Development Sociology and Environmental Science. His work is centred around environmental justice and climate change adaptation and mitigation in the Global South, with a particular interest in Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia. In 2016, Steyn founded iMPACT JOURNEY, an audiovisual platform to challenge our perceptions on a variety of complex global issues through the art of visual storytelling. In 2018, iMPACT DOC was launched in Amsterdam, a platform for documentary photography and film. At present, he is doing his PhD in the UK.
In his daily life Gabriel Ramirez Acevedo is working as functional manager at the University of Amsterdam. He holds a Bachelor in International Relations and a Master in International Development Studies. He has previously worked as a consultant for social and environmental projects in Colombia, as director of a non-profit organization aiming to safeguard gastronomic traditions in Colombia, and at an environmental NGO in the US. After being a nominee in the Humanitarian Communication Thesis Prize 2018, he wanted to continue exploring issues of power and representation in international development, and this is why he wanted to become a board member of our expertise centre.
Martha Teijema has a background in International Law, Nursing and Health Sciences. Martha previously worked and lived in South Africa where she researched the collaboration between healthcare and religious structures for HIV service provision. At present, she is a PhD candidate at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and works for Doctors of the World Netherlands at the Right to Care Team. At Doctors of the World, she coordinates psychological care for undocumented migrants in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. Having worked for, and with, several INGOs, Martha brings a versatile skill set to analyze and interpret different forms of communication from organizations.
Gigi Pasco Ong-Alok is a critical insider in the field of ID with a background in Conflict Studies and Human Rights. He currently works as an Innovation Officer for COC, an LGBTI organization supporting queer movements in the Netherlands and beyond. Previously, he worked with grassroot initiatives in Rio de Janeiro and Nairobi, facilitated diversity and inclusion workshops in higher education and worked on strengthening global civil society networks at Oxfam Novib. Beyond of ‘doing good’, his inspiration to work in this sector is based on co-creating spaces for indigenous and minority voices to thrive and dismantling colonial perceptions, representations and practices in ID.