Après une longue pause, je reprends mon blog en interviewant l’une des personnes les plus inspirantes que je connaisse : Dieudonné Cirhigiri, un professionnel chevronné de l’aide humanitaire et du développement de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC).
After a long hiatus, I resume my blogging by interviewing one of the most inspiring people I know: Dieudonné Cirhigiri, a seasoned humanitarian and development professional from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Most of us have been watching the images of Ukrainian refugees fleeing their country, crossing borders to find a new home in Western Europe. I have been asking refugees from other countries to share their views and advice about what’s happening. Here’s my latest conversation with Anila Noor, a refugee and founder of New Women Connectors (NWC), a Netherlands-based organisation that advocates systemic change in migration policies and helps connect refugee and migrant women in Europe and beyond (disclaimer: I am a board member). Anila is no stranger to this blog, as you can read here. Once again, her views give us pause.
El mes pasado, ACNUR, la agencia de refugiados de las Naciones Unidas, organizó una conferencia mundial para discutir el progreso del Pacto Mundial sobre los Refugiados, un acuerdo de 2018 alcanzado por los gobiernos, la sociedad civil, el sector privado y muchos otros actores para mejorar el apoyo internacional a los más de 26 millones de refugiados diseminados por todo el mundo.Como he hecho en otras ocasiones similares, decidí acercarme a un refugiado y escuchar sus opiniones sobre la conferencia. Tuve la suerte de reunirme con Amet Elisiab Herrera, una refugiada colombiana que se ha reasentado en México. Lo conocí justo cuando estaba a punto de conocer a sus abuelos de nuevo en Colombia por primera vez en veinte años. Un momento muy emotivo para Amet y toda su familia.
In my six years as a blogger, my greatest challenge has been to amplify the voices of climate change activists from the Global South. Climate change negotiations, like the Conference of the Parties or COP26 that took place in Glasgow, UK earlier this month, hardly take into consideration the demands of these advocates although they express the views of the people most impacted by climate change in the world. It's therefore with great interest that I have met with Kevin Mtai from Kenya...
As I continue to look for personal stories of women entrepreneurs in Southern countries (for lack of a better definition), I share my conversation with Chii Akporji, former Senior Advisor to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is now the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation. Chii has become an expert in housing finance in Nigeria and beyond, founding the consulting firm Alphacities Africa and breaking the glass ceiling of gender discrimination in the sector.
[English version here] Bien que l’attention du monde ces jours-ci porte principalement sur ce qui se passe en Afghanistan, j’aimerais que nous nous rappelions également qu’il y a d’autres pays souvent oubliés et que nous apprenions de leurs voix inouïes. Pour cette raison la série sur l’entrepreneuriat féminin dans les pays du Sud du monde continue avec mon entretien avec une ancienne collègue, Micheline Engiteyo, qui est en train d’établir sa propre organisation en République Démocratique du Congo (RDC).
This blog post is the first of a series focusing on female entrepreneurship in Southern countries. I start with an interview with a Kenyan woman, Mercy Khamala. Mercy has successfully transitioned from the humanitarian sector to business, founding the online concept store Meruti. Here she shares her journey and reflects on what she has learned along the way.
Every so often there are people who transition from national or small not for profit into the International NGOs. Many times, it is a dream come true because you have probably put in dozens of applications and this one lucky one made it through, and you cannot just believe! There you are in a multicultural fancy office; it really is a dream come true.
A few months ago, I wrote about how the international aid and development sector was addressing the double challenge of Covid-19 and mounting accusations of racism following the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US. I recommended levelling the playing field between Northern and Southern academia to counteract the widespread belief that ‘developed’ nations know what is best for ‘developing’ countries. In particular, establishing joint Northern and Southern degrees in comparative development would in my view be a major step forward to ‘decolonise’ development knowledge and lay the ground for more equitable solidarity. [More...]
Few regions in the world are exposed to the threat of climate change as the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Pacific. A constellation of 16 countries and seven territories spread across the largest ocean mass in the world, these states are coming under growing pressure to get the right mix of policies that can counteract the double impact of extreme weather conditions and COVID-19. I talk about these challenges with Alfred Schuster, a native Samoan living in Fiji and now a Development Effectiveness Advisor for the Australia Pacific Training Coalition. Here Alfred explains why it is important to learn from decades of experience managing foreign aid in the Pacific region to address climate change successfully, or at least more effectively.
I’m a big fan of my colleague Wale Osofisan, who works as Senior Director of the Governance Unit at the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Recently, we have started collaborating more often on global advocacy priorities and that’s given me the excuse to ask him a number of questions about his background and his vision for international cooperation in the years ahead.
Social accountability is one of those phrases that has become quite commonplace in recent years. It broadly refers to what citizens can do to hold their government, the private sector and other key actors to account. For Alpha Ntayomba, a native Tanzanian born in Arusha and currently living in the Morogoro region, social accountability has become his life mission. I met him through CIVICUS, the world’s largest civil society platform. Here he explains how he came to learn about social accountability and why it is so important to him.
KILIZA turns five! I cannot think of a better way to mark this moment than to publish an article by a former colleague I particularly admire, Wairu Kinyori. Based in Nairobi, Wairu talks about one of the most challenging choices she’s had to make in her life: taking a break from her highly successful career to raise her children. The freedom to choose this path is for Wairu a more authentic expression of feminism than trying to have it all, all the time.
Before Covid-19, before Black Lives Matter, the aid and development sector was already grappling with massive challenges – the ‘Aid too’ movement, the full-on attack on multilateralism, the toxic narrative against refugees, just to name a few. Yet, there was little questioning where to turn for solutions. The sector has responded to those challenges with a flurry of initiatives based on ‘best practices’ and widely accepted knowledge. Stricter measures have been introduced for higher protection from sexual exploitation and abuse in country programmes. In some cases, policymakers have started listening more to the voices of affected populations; in other cases, they have allowed for refugees’ participation in key policy discussions. Yet, the reforms enacted so far are still fundamentally grounded in traditional Western/Northern notions of what is best for ‘developing’ countries and their people.
My last (pre-COVID) intern has been a Ugandan woman, Mary Akugizibwe. Not only did she bring with her solid international experience, including with the Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the United Nations; she also contributed unique views on humanitarian aid and development as the founder of a local Ugandan organisation, Global Refugee Initiatives. It has been an honour working with Mary. Here are some of her reflections on local and international cooperation.
20 June is World Refugee Day. This year, humanitarian and refugee agencies will mark it very differently due to the coronavirus pandemic, but for millions of refugees and other forcibly displaced people, little will change. For many of them, putting food on the table remains a bigger challenge than avoiding getting infected. I talk about these competing priorities and possible solutions with Reshad Jalali, Policy Officer at the Brussels-based European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE).
A few months ago I met a brilliant colleague, Sema Genel Karaosmanoğlu, at a global meeting on how to improve humanitarian action. Sema is the Executive Director and Board Member of Support to Life, a Turkish NGO. She also heads the largest global network of local aid organisations, NEAR. As the Covid-19 pandemic spreads to the global South, Sema shares her perspectives on humanitarian aid, how to improve it and what local organisations can contribute to address the challenge of our time.
In my previous post, I discussed the international response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake with Sabina Carlson Robillard and her husband Louino ‘Robi’ Robillard. They both participated in relief efforts at the time. Today, they manage Konbit Solèy Leve, a community-led movement founded in the biggest Haiti slum, Cite Soleil, in 2011. In Part Two of our conversation, Sabina and Robi share the objectives of Konbit Solèy Leve and explain how this model of local solidarity can be used to address other similar challenges around the world. Truly an inspiration for finding creative ways to help each other at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is keeping people apart.
This is the first part of a conversation with Sabina Carlson Robillard and her husband Louino ‘Robi’ Robillard. Sabina, a US national, and Robi, a Haiti-born, met in Haiti while contributing to the response to the 2010 earthquake. Today they support Konbit Solèy Leve, a community-led movement founded in the biggest Haiti slum, Cite Soleil, in 2011. In Part One of this conversation, Sabina, Robi and I discuss the international response to the 2010 earthquake from a local perspective.