Humanitarian Response in Ethiopia

Stories from the Field: Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator in Ethiopia

When I first received the email from CANADEM about a possible secondment, I was leaving Damascus, Syria having completed close to 2 years in the heat of the war as a Food Security Cluster Coordinator. My first reaction to the email was, ‘no way’. Syria had really taken a toll on me, I was emotionally tired and burnt out from my time there. In those 2 years, I had only seen my family for less than 24 days and I just couldn’t take it anymore. On reading through the details of the secondment, the voices in my head started telling me, “you are a humanitarian worker and your job is not done by many”, and “of course your family needs you but so do these suffering families who struggle to put food on the table every meal time.” However when I noticed Ethiopia as the Duty Country, I just could not resist anymore. I had unfinished business in Ethiopia.

Having worked for WFP in Ethiopia previously and knowing the challenges there, I always knew I had more that I could bring to the to their operation. In my previous stint in Ethiopia I was based in the field and I was committed to returning if there was a possibility to work in the Country Office in Addis Ababa as I felt I could bring a lot to the operation. The position with CANADEM met my specific skills and was of great interest in terms of my unfinished business. When I boarded the flight to Addis in March 2016, I was a man on a mission.

The Food Management Improvement Project is a flagship WFP capacity building initiative which aims to build the Government of Ethiopia’s capacity in supply chain management to improve the efficiency in emergency preparedness and response, whilst maintaining accountability and visibility for food aid resources in the supply chain. My position entailed creating a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) System, and overall M&E capacity for the Ethiopia National Disaster Risk Management Commission. I was also tasked with operationalizing the M&E System whilst coordinating M&E and Information Management for the Project and the Ethiopian Government.

What makes the job of a CANADEM expert interesting is you are expected to hit the road running literary. In my first few days on the job, WFP and the Government tasked me to devise a way to quickly collect and analyze food aid data across the supply chain to develop a better understanding of the bottlenecks affecting the efficiency of the humanitarian response.

In a few days I had set up several teleconference meetings with WFP Field Offices and within a week, we had set up a remote telephone based monitoring system to collect information from the various districts.  Within a few weeks, the Logistic Cluster was activated in Ethiopia and our project team was heavily involved in the setting up of the cluster mechanism. I was also heavily involved in the Logistics Capacity Assessments that helped to define the interventions of the Cluster in Ethiopia. As the cluster was fully operational, the remote monitoring system that I helped to set up became a key component of the tools to determine the impact of the Cluster capacity investments over the coming months. Working with the Cluster, we refined and customized the system to be able to collect information on dates of dispatches, dates of confirmed deliveries, as well as start and end dates of distributions. This information helps WFP and other Cluster partners, including USAID funded NGOs and the Government National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC), to optimize their supply chain systems to be able to move food from warehouses to beneficiaries within a 4-week cycle. This is the standard cycle as beneficiary rations for relief food aid are meant to save lives and is intended to last only 4 weeks.

Within the 5 months I have been in this role I am happy as I am contributing to what I have always wanted to contribute to the Ethiopian operation, including helping the WFP, the Ethiopian Government and partners to improve efficiencies and develop reporting systems that can be comparable with WFP operations across the world.

CANADEM has helped me to settle in the position with tremendous support. The Ethiopia operation is immense, with over 10.2 million under relief food and close to 5 million people receiving safety net assistance. It is a country of amazing opportunities but also faces a multitude of challenges as it is prone to natural hazards, like the current El Nino that affect communities’ capacity to be resilient. I hope my contribution to the Food Management Improvement Plan (FMIP) project will come to fruition as assist in improving overall capacity. I am proud to be part of the CANADEM Global pool of Associates that has led me to this opportunity.