27 June 2016
Above: Mohamed ensures the Sphere standards on food security and nutrition are adhered to during a distribution for people affected by inter-clan conflict in his sub-county.
Mohamed Ibrahim Yussuf is a Sub-County Administrator in Lafey, one of Kenya’s most volatile sub-counties. He was trained in Core Humanitarian Skills as part of Context, a pioneering professional development scheme that RedR has been running in East Africa and the Middle East since May 2015.
At one time, before I began my current job, I was interviewed for a position with Save the Children. I was asked, "Do you know what the Sphere project is?" - and I could not answer. Today, I am able to inform others about the Sphere standards, courtesy of RedR UK.
I work in Lafey sub-county (Mandera County). Its proximity to the border with Somalia means it is one of the most volatile sub-counties in Kenya as far as security is concerned. Emergencies are common here: terror attacks and perennial inter-clan animosities result in humanitarian crises that call for an immediate response. This is what made my line manager nominate me to be trained on the Context course.
The course gave me an introduction to the key concepts and skills of humanitarian programming. This includes the humanitarian system, standards and principles, programme delivery skills, the project management cycle, time management, collaboration, and stress management.
The Core Humanitarian Skills Development programme was beneficial to me both as an individual and as a representative of my county, since I am now translating what I have learnt into my work plan. I have noted improvement in my work, better coordination, and more effective time management under pressure. Across my sub-county, there is increased support from the way I engage my staff, a better feedback mechanism, and wider awareness and application of the Sphere standards - especially in the quarterly food distribution programme. Communication and accountability have improved. Above all, having been taught effective team-building in the course, I feel we work better as a team in any of our undertakings.
Above: Conducting a community awareness session along the riverine area on flooding early warning system.
Leaving my comfort zone
The course was also an opportunity for me to meet with other humanitarian agencies and share our experiences. Indeed, networking with the course participants enabled me to benefit from the insight of people from diverse humanitarian backgrounds. The buddy groups and peer-to-peer learning during the course were of great value; they enabled me to explore new ideas and gave me a platform to network and share. The buddy groups have also helped me in terms of self-reflection and skill development. This motivated and rejuvenated me to move away from my comfort zone and see challenges as opportunities.
Having undergone this training, I am now in a position to form teams that can respond in an efficient and effective manner when an emergency happens - and within the first 24 hours, when the timing is crucial. It has sharpened my skills in humanitarian response and I am now able to multi-task and set my own priorities well.
Finally, I can say I am a transformed person as far as humanitarian response is concerned. I always apply what I have learnt in the Context course in my day-to-day operations and I sincerely appreciate RedR UK’s efforts to improve humanitarian skills for disaster relief in this region.
Context is part of the Start Network's Talent Development project. The latter is one of fourteen projects in a portfolio funded by UK Aid (DFID).