Interview with Amélie d’Hautefeuille, former field coordinator in Nigeria

Amélie has spent nine months working for the Nigeria mission. Her first trip was in April 2016 to open Première Urgence Internationale’s mission in the country, then in October 2016 as a field coordinator. She tells us about her experience.

During my first stay, in April 2016 when opening the mission, my role was to launch and monitor our first food security project in Maiduguri in north-east Nigeria. To achieve this, we worked with community leaders and with the community on the vulnerability criteria to use when choosing the beneficiaries of the project. The idea was that, alongside the standard food insecurity criteria, we would add vulnerability criteria that fitted in with the local culture and the reality of the situation that the population was facing.

Then, as a field coordinator, I was responsible for the internal and external coordination of our projects. Internally, we adopted an integrated approach designed to take a multi-sectoral and complementary approach to addressing all of the needs expressed by the target populations. In Maiduguri, we are now carrying out activities linked to health, to food security and to nutrition, and a project to support households that want to create or develop their own source of income is currently being tested. We do cover a limited area, but we hope that this way, we can work to combat the entire chain of vulnerability and have a real impact on beneficiaries. As well as our work directly focused on local populations, we also manage a warehouse that is open to all humanitarian stakeholders in the region. Externally, the huge increase in the number of humanitarian stakeholders results in extremely difficult challenges in terms of coordination. My role was to build bridges with the whole of the humanitarian community to provide complementary responses based on the skills each organisation brought to the table. I was also responsible for managing security at the Maiduguri base, generally managing all teams, and developing new projects in collaboration with the head of mission.

It was such a fascinating experience – rarely have I seen such relevance and such quality in terms of the projects put in place. Within our scope of intervention, we always worked in close collaboration with the community to understand what their needs actually were and to build our projects based on the needs the population expressed. The feedback we received from beneficiaries and other stakeholders proves that we have acquired genuine understanding of the local population and of the humanitarian community. This gives us real satisfaction, and it will help us to continue with our work and develop our response to this major crisis.

The need is still so great, and the response is not enough. Currently, in the areas accessible to humanitarian aid workers, populations’ needs are only very partially covered – when will we be able to access the rest of the population? 

The mission now needs to continue to increase its operational volume while maintaining the relevance and quality of its projects. This is a tall order in a country where there are countless challenges and where needs are enormous. 

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