Bioforce: a unique school of humanitarians to humanitarians


We train around 650 people per year in our diploma courses, both in Europe and in Africa – it’s not a million – but for the people trained, we know it makes a difference; many of them express that it changes their lives. We enable a good entering to the sector for newcomers and provide humanitarian staff with the ability to develop their skills” - Dorothée Lintner, Managing Director of Bioforce.

If you work within the humanitarian sector, chances are high that you have either attended or heard of the Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT). This is only one example of a course and concept initially initiated by the humanitarian institute Bioforce, now evolved by the wider sector, preparing humanitarians for the field.

Bioforce contributes towards the professionalization of the aid sector as a specialized learning center composed mainly of humanitarians. It aims to support the evolution of the aid sector as well as encourage its actors to sustainable solutions. Bioforce’s extensive training ranges from shorter programmes to full diploma courses with a technical and operational approach to the humanitarian sector. It targets those who want to become aid workers, those who wish to increase their skills in their humanitarian profession, and local and international aid organizations through bespoke learning programmes. Students and staff are prepared for the humanitarian field through operational skills such as managing people, setting up a MEAL approach to aid projects, and managing vehicles, but also in personal behaviour, addressing ethics and self-development.

We know that ability to cooperate is not easy, and it will be even harder on the humanitarian field with challenging circumstances. We run simulations as if they were real missions to learn to cooperate and deliver aid even under pressure”, the Managing Director of Bioforce, Dorothée Lintner, explains to the H2H Network in an interview.

Although Bioforce has its origin in France since its foundation in 1983, it provides worldwide activities and has a particular focus on the Middle East and West Africa, including a training centre in Dakar, Senegal. Through increasing partnerships with universities in other countries, such as Jordan and Lebanon, the aim is to deliver complete hands-on humanitarian courses globally to nurture a pool of humanitarian workers from all countries. Dorothée explains that Bioforce also works to empower crisis-affected people by training them to work in response to the crisis they face. One such example is a pilot project in Niger where they train refugees in partnership with UNHCR .

The local people are the ones who understand the crisis; we have to change the perspective of what an aid worker is,” she says.

With a full bachelor’s programme and five different diploma courses, including one in English, Bioforce aims to bridge theory and practice for its students through action-based teaching methods, carried out by humanitarians. Through operational field knowledge and a direct connection with humanitarian actors, 86 percent of Bioforce trainees are in field assignment after completion of training, Dorothée says.

Bioforce works to create a culture of specific standards applied to aid workers’ behaviour and preparedness for the field in the aid sector. Together with other humanitarian actors, including H2H members such as CHS Alliance, Humanitarian Logistics Association, RedR UK, Humanitarian Leadership Academy and Centre for Humanitarian Leadership, it provides frameworks and certificates for humanitarian skills and knowledge. One such example is HPass, a ‘One-stop shop’ for humanitarian professional development, providing digital skill badges, based on humanitarian learning quality standards.

Through its work, Bioforce is educating committed humanitarian professionals to provide adapted and high-quality aid for those affected by crises. Learn more about Bioforce’s courses, programmes and work here.