Field Coordinator in Cameroon: the art of meeting challenges

Seniensou Kone is originally from Côte d’Ivoire and is Field Coordinator in Cameroon for Première Urgence Internationale. He tells us about his background, his commitment and his career development within the NGO.

I first heard about Première Urgence Internationale in April 2012 in Côte d’Ivoire, through a job advertisement in the government newspaper (Fraternité Matin). At the time, the organization was still called PU-AMI (Première Urgence Aide Médicale Internationale)”, he recalls.

In eight years, he has had three jobs in three different countries. Starting from a national employee position in Côte d’Ivoire, he then moved on to a position of Agronomy Technical Manager Assistant before going on expatriation for the same position in the Central African Republic.

© Première Urgence Internationale | Visit of Field Coordinator in Cameroon to a water point rehabilitated by the NGO in Mora Far North Cameroon.

©Première Urgence Internationale | Visit to a water point rehabilitated by the NGO in Mora Far North Cameroon.

Career evolution

He then moved up the ladder to become Field Coordinator in the Central African Republic and then in Cameroon.

When asked what a “typical day” for a Field Coordinator looks like, the answer is quick: “You can try to find a typical day, although it must be said that the days follow each other but are never really alike.”

Indeed, the day starts early with an essential task: gathering information on the security situation in the country and in the area, through different media and networks.

We also do a message check of the focal points when missions are planned in their area and they are supposed to contact us themselves in case of an incident. Then we proceed to sign the documents required for the missions of the day.”

The day then continues with a multitude of tasks involving the different teams: planning, meetings, prioritizing tasks, taking charge of files, etc.

In short, the Field Coordinator’s days are varied and variable, and if there are security incidents, dealing with them takes precedence over anything that was planned”, he explains.

A challenging job, therefore, where security and administrative difficulties can arise at any time.

Sometimes the administrative and military authorities’ agendas differ from ours. We have to deal with this very tactfully, even when it seems out of alignment with our operational priorities.”

©Première Urgence Internationale | Field Coordinator in Cameroon Visits a field belonging to people supported by the NGO in the Adamaoua region of Cameroon.

©Première Urgence Internationale | Visiting a field belonging to people supported by the NGO in the Adamaoua region of Cameroon.

Humanitarian calling

Despite the constant pressure, the satisfaction of achieving goals with the team remains an intense reward.

Meeting the multiple and multifaceted challenges on a daily basis to achieve the satisfaction of the people supported is what I appreciate most in my work”, says the Field Coordinator.

Throughout his childhood, Seniensou Kone has been involved in various school and student associations and in his village.

His temperament pushed him to act, to feel useful to others, always with this desire to find “a proximity with the community, with ordinary people”.

Humanitarian aid seemed to me to be the closest to this desire to work with people and communities. This sector of activity also allows me to acquire knowledge to deliver assistance in a broader way, targeting vulnerability,” explains the Field Coordinator, adding: “My links with the people supported by the NGO remain very professional in order to maintain the necessary distance. However I am very touched by their satisfaction. I get involved in the drafting of projects to ensure they are relevant and appropriate.”

A vision consistent with the objective of Première Urgence Internationale: “To provide a rapid global response to the basic needs of populations affected by humanitarian crises to help them regain independence and dignity.

©Clément Louis Kolopp | Green sight in Cameroon.

©Clément Louis Kolopp | Green sight in Cameroon.

Leading the way

Seniensou Kone now wishes to continue in this field to guide others who may wish to follow the same path.

I still see myself doing humanitarian work, preferably with Première Urgence Internationale, and  ‘going out’ as Head of Mission to then have the legitimacy to accompany, if need be, people who would like to embark on this career without really knowing in what form yet.”

For Romain Gautier, Head of Recruitment and Career Development at the NGO: “The fact that Seniensou started as a national employee is particularly symbolic. National employees are the ones who make Première Urgence Internationale what it is on a daily basis. It is therefore essential to focus on the support, skills development and mobility of national employees.”

He concludes: “In the years to come, more and more of our management positions in the field will be filled by people who started out, not with an internship in a Headquarters, but with field experience in their own country.”

Read about the experience of a Field Coordinator in Lebanon.

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