Accessibility statement

Janaka Jayawickrama
Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor in Community Wellbeing



Janaka is a senior lecturer / Associate Professor in community wellbeing on the MSc in International Humanitarian Affairs (MIHA). He is a social anthropologist with a background in conducting research in multi-disciplinary and culturally diverse contexts. His work has a particular focus on understanding wellbeing of communities within uncertainty and dangers of life presented by disasters, conflicts and uneven development.

Throughout his career, Janaka has worked within and between academia, policy and practice in disasters, conflicts and uneven development. His pioneering work on concepts of care and wellbeing has influenced the policy and practice of the global humanitarian and development intervention discourse. Janaka teaches courses on humanitarianism, international protection and assistance, communities in humanitarian affairs and multicultural elements of care and wellbeing in midwifery, public health and humanitarian affairs programmes. He has also conducted local, national and regional workshops for national professionals on concepts of community care, mental health, disaster risk reduction, evaluation, self-care, peace and conflict impact analysis, community-based project management and humanitarian responses.

Janaka has played key roles in various humanitarian responses including tsunami responses in Sri Lanka (2004), internally displaced people in Western Darfur, Sudan (2005), Afghan refugees in Pakistan (2006), refugees in Malawi (2006) and Iraqi refugees in Jordan (2007). He is currently collaborating with governments, higher education institutions and communities in Iraq, Lebanon, Abu Dhabi, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. He continues to advise the UN and International Agencies on humanitarian affairs. 


  • PhD in Social Anthropology, Rethinking Mental Health and Wellbeing Interventions in Disaster and Conflict Affected Communities: Case Studies from Sri Lanka, Sudan and Malawi, Northumbria University
  • MSc in Disaster Management and Sustainable Development, Northumbria University
  • Diploma in Refugee and Displacement Care, International Trauma Treatment Program, Washington, USA
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Psychological Counselling, All India Institute for Counselling, Psychotherapy and Human Relationships, Vellore, India
  • Certificate in Clinical Pastoral Education, Spiritual Care Department, Providence St. Peter Hospital, USA



Janaka’s current research interests include: 

  • “Insider” and “outsider” collaboration in disaster, conflict and development interventions.
  • Challenges and the future of humanitarian assistance.
  • Localisation of aid and community ownership of humanitarian and development discourse. 
  • Traditional and new knowledge systems that improve community wellbeing in uncertainty and danger.
  • Ethics in evaluation in violently divided societies.
  • Emerging humanitarian and development discourse through Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS).



Janaka is currently supervising the following PhD students in the Department:

  • A case study of alternative approaches to managing and coping with the psychological impact of war in Sierra Leone (Ms Mariama Conteh).
  • Transformation as a personal process: Social, political and cultural experiences of a humanitarian worker (Ms Anusanthee Pillay).
  • Are Saudi Arabia nurses prepared for disaster risk reduction? (Mr Mufleh Alomrani).


Selected publications

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

  • (2016) with J. Rose; Capacity Building of Institutions for Disaster Risk Reduction: learning from communities as first responders. Built Environment Project and Asset Management, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp. 391-402. 
  • (2015) with G. O’Brien, P. O’Keefe, R. Jigyasu; Climate Change and Cultural Heritage: Individual, institutional and societal coping strategies to address the challenges associated with disaster risk, Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol 5, No.2, pp. 99-114.
  • (2014) with L Zhou, S Perera and A Onaopepo; he Implication of Hyogo Framework for Action for Disaster Resilience Education, Procedia Economics and Finance, Volume18, pp.576-583.
  • (2014) with T. Leipold, P. O’Keefe; Reconstruction Project Appraisal in a Disaster Affected Community: A Case Study from Sri Lanka, Asian Journal of Environment and Disaster Management, Vol.5, N0.2, pp.145-156. 
  • (2013) If they can’t do good, they should not come: Ethics of evaluating research in violently divided societies, Journal of Peacebuilding and Development, Vol.8, No.2, pp.26-41.
  • (2013) with J. Rose, P. O’Keefe, G. O’Brien; The challenge of humanitarian aid: an overview Environmental Hazards; Special Issue Human and Policy Dimensions, 12(1), pp.74-92.
  • (2012) with I. Ferdinand, G. O’Brien, P. O’Keefe; The Double Bind of Poverty and Community Disaster Risk Reduction: A Case study from the Caribbean, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, Volume 2, pp.84-94, Elsevier. 
  • (2009) Ethical Thinking: International Mental Health Activities and Communities, Summer Issue, Fourth World Journal, Volume 8, Number 1, pp. 6-18.


  • (2017) with A Pillay; Live Well | Work Well: The Power of Self-care, Workbook for GBV Response Teams in Northern Iraq, Norwegian Refugee Council. 
  • (2007) Concepts of Care: A Workbook for Community Practitioners, United Nations Refugee Agency and Disaster and Development Centre (A UNHCR Publication). 
  • (2004) with W. Samasundera; Bridging Disaster and Development: Disaster Management and Information Programme, Green Movement of Sri Lanka (ISBN: 955-1140-00-1). 
  • (2004) with J. Abeywickrama; Psycho-social Programming for Conflict Affected Communities: Training Manual: Peace & Community Action and Disaster and Development Centre (Community Publication).

Edited books

  • (2015) with A Collins, S Jones and B Manyena; Natural Hazards, Risks, and Disasters in Society: A Cross-Disciplinary Overview: Elsevier’s Hazards and Disasters Series, Oxford: Elsevier (ISBN: 978-0-12-396451-9). 

Book chapters

  • (2018) with J Rose; “Therapeutic Imperialism in Disaster and Conflict Affected Countries”, In Cohen, B., (Ed), Routledge Critical Handbook of Mental Health: Theories and Approaches, Routledge Publishing, (ISBN: 978-1-138-22547-3).
  • (2015) with P O’Keefe and G O’Brien; Disastrous Disasters: A Polemic on Capitalism, Climate Change and Humanitarianism, In Collins, A., Jones, S., Manyena, S.B., Jayawickrama, J., (eds), Natural Hazards, Risks, and Disasters in Society: A Cross-Disciplinary Overview: Elsevier’s Hazards and Disasters Series, Oxford: Elsevier (ISBN: 978-0-12-396451- 9).
  • (2015) with J Strecker; Ethics in Evaluating Research in and on Violently Divided Societies, in Bush, K. and Duggan, C. (eds), Evaluation in Extremis – the politics and impact of research in violently divided societies, SAGE. 
  • (2012) with P O’Keefe and G O’Brian; The Dilemmas of Psychosocial Interventions in Humanitarian Assistance, in Acuto, M (ed), Negotiating Relief: The Dialectics of Humanitarian Space, Hurst Publishers.
  • (2007) Mental health: culture, language and power, An Alternative World Health Report, Global Health Watch, Zed Books.

General articles and other publications

  • (2018) with B Rehman; (2018), Before Defining what is Local, Let’s Build the Capacities of Humanitarian Agencies, Blog Post for UCL’s Refugee Hosts.
  • (2018) Humanitarian aid system is a continuation of the colonial project, Op-Ed for Al Jazeera English.
  • (2012) with G O’Brien and P O’Keefe; Institutions or Solutions?, International Journal of Environmental Studies, Volume 69, Issue 6.
  • (2012) Community Resilience, Fragility and Stabilisation: Sri Lankan Case Study, Community Resilience Research Project, Ministry of Defence, United Kingdom. 
  • (2010) Whose Ethics? International Research Activities in Conflict Affected Communities, Field Research and Ethics in Post-Conflict Environments Online Resource.
  • (2008) with J Gilbert; Responding to the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Refugees in Jordan: Challenges for Systems, Organisations and Staff, Field Research Report for UNHCR, Geneva. 
  • (2007) with J Gilbert; Community Mental Health and Wellbeing: Concepts of Care Workshops in the Middle East and Africa - Report, DDC and UNHCR, Geneva.
  • (2006) with E Brady and A Njelekela; Community-based Psychosocial Responses in Protected Refugee Situations, DDC and UNHCR, Geneva.
  • (2005) Draft guidelines to conduct psychosocial programmes in Western Darfur, Sudan: UNHCR, Sub-Office, El-Geneina.
  • (2005) Trauma and Psychosocial Assessment of Displaced Population in Western Darfur, Sudan, DDC and UNHCR, Geneva. 
  • (2005) Threat and opportunity: disaster in Sri Lanka, Living Ethics, St. James Ethics Centre, Australia. 
  • (2005) Portrait of a Disaster: Rapid Assessment Report of the Effects of Tsunami Crushes in Sri Lanka, Disaster Management and Information Programme.



Module Contributor

  • The Transition to Professional Self (HEA00022C)
  • Professional Relationships (HEA00028I)
  • Skilled Companionship in Midwifery (HEA00016H)


  • Programme Leader – MSc in International Humanitarian Affairs (2014-2017)
  • Module Leader – Examining Humanitarianism (HEA00095M), Protection and Assistance in International Humanitarian 'Affairs (HEA00096M), Communities in Humanitarian Affairs (HEA00099M) and Dissertation (HEA00101M)
  • Module contributor - Global Public Health (HEA00016M)

Other teaching

Visiting Lecturer:

  • Mental health in disaster and conflicts – Institute for Health and Society, Newcastle University
  • Uneven development in urban settings – Faculty of Arts, York St John University
  • Disaster, Development and Communities, Post-graduate Institute of Science, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

External activities


  • 2014 – Onwards: Academic Fellow, Humanitarian Academy for Development
  • 2014 – 2016: Advisor – Community Engagement in Humanitarian Responses, UN World Humanitarian Summit
  • 2010 – 2013: Advisor, Step-By-Step Studio: collaborative Batticaloa/Colombo social enterprise dedicated to reconciliation and the cultivation of a deeper peace in Sri Lanka through conscientious engagement with the practice of contemplative art and narration of the Garden Path
  • 2006 – Onwards: Associate Scholar, Centre for World Indigenous Studies, USA
  • 2000 - Onwards: Associate Faculty, International Trauma Treatment Programme, USA

Editorial duties

  • 2017 - Onwards: Editorial Committee Member, European Scientific Journal (ISSN: 1857-7881), European Scientific Institute, Portugal
  • 2007 – Onwards: Contributing Editor, Fourth World Journal, Centre for World Indigenous Studies, USA
  • 2007 – 2010: Co-Editor, Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Bulletin (Collaboration between Northumbria University, United Kingdom and International Trauma Treatment Program, USA)

Invited talks and conferences

  • Challenges to Evaluating Health Responses to Disasters (Roundtable Discussion), Disaster Preparedness and Response Unit, Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Sri Lanka, March 2018. 
  • Search and Rescue: The Case of Tsunami 2004 (Workshop Presentation), 2nd International Emergency Medicine Conference, Organised by the Abu Dhabi Police, United Arab Emirates, October 2017. 
  • Ethnic Minority’s Perspectives on Studying and Working in the UK, (Keynote Speech), Organised by the York St John University, United Kingdom, January 2017. 
  • Changing Nature of Development Aid – From Past to Future (Panel Discussion), Organised by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TiKA), the Republic of Turkey, March 2015
  • Internal Challenges of INGOs in Delivering Infrastructure: A Community Perspective (Panel Discussion), Canadian Humanitarian Conference, Ottawa, Canada, December 2014
  • Same Dogs, Same Tricks: Examining the Humanitarian Discourse, (Chair of the Panel), Dealing with Disasters Conference (DwD 2013) / 4th Conference of the International Society for Integrated Disaster Risk Management (IDRiM 2013), Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, September 2013

Media coverage

  • Commenting on the affects of Cyclone Pam on communities in Vanuatu, March 2015, BBC York

Janaka Jayawickrama

Contact details

Dr Janaka Jayawickrama
Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor in Community Wellbeing

Tel: 01904 32(1658)