Healthy Animals - Healthy People - Healthy Environment

VSF-Suisse has a face: meet Justus Namatsi, Project Officer in Kenya and Somalia

VSF- Suisse, 05.10.2017

 

Born in Kenya, Justus Namatsi is working as a Project Officer for VSF-Suisse in both his native country and Somalia, two countries that are fighting recurring droughts.
What drives him in his work with us? His aspiration to “alleviate sufferings, and transform the lives of the most vulnerable members of the community to enhance self-reliance through our interventions.”
Read our interview of Justus to learn how we organize emergency assistance in context of crisis and discover the many similarities between the pastoralists in Kenya and Somalia!
 
   

Hi Justus! First, can you tell us a little bit more about you? Where do you come from?


J.N. I am Kenyan and I live in Nairobi. I originally come from Mumias, Kakamega County, in Western Kenya. Mumias is traditionally known for sugarcane farming, even though farmers are currently diversifying to other enterprises.


What did you study?

 

J.N. I am a holder of a Bachelor of Science in Animal production from the University of Egerton (Kenya), a postgraduate Diploma in Community Development and a Master of Science in Agricultural Resources Management from the University of Nairobi.

 

 

What are your aspirations? 

 

J.N. Alleviate sufferings, transform the lives of the most vulnerable members of the community and enhance self-reliance through our interventions.

 

What’s your role in VSF?

 

J.N. As a Project Officer, I have been involved in a lot of things: the development of data collection tools such as the design of baseline surveys tools, but also the conception of rapid drought and livelihood assessments tools, gross margin analysis as well as impact assessments tools, the development of monitoring forms and the training of enumerators. I facilitate focus groups discussions, conduct key informant interviews as well as baseline surveys, rapid assessments or impact assessments. I also support data analysis and reporting.

 

My job also includes the participation in projects reviews, the planning of meetings, the development of workplans, community mobilizations and sensitizations, the beneficiaries’ selection and training as well as the conception of training guides. I provide technical support too, and I work in projects monitoring and collaborate with the relevant stakeholders. I am also actively involved in joint proposal development with the Country Director and Team leader, and in the development of concept notes. I write reports too and attend meetings when called upon.

 

What’s a typical day for you?

 

J.N. We plan our activities during project inception workshops and develop detailed workplans that guide implementation. Advance consultations are done with relevant stakeholder’s, for instant the County Government Ministry’s personnel, when we are planning to carry out a field activity. This is followed by community mobilization and sensitization as well as the organization of the planned activity related logistics, before setting off very early in the morning for the day’s activity.

At the project site, I report to the community leaders, elders or officers for briefing, before embarking on the day’s activity and upon completion. The field activity may include facilitating the beneficiaries’ selection process, verification or training of beneficiaries, or conducting baseline survey. A rapid assessment, an impact assessment as well as the monitoring of field activities can also be implicated. Other days may be spent working on data collection tools, concept notes or projects proposals, among other things.

 

What drove you to work with NGOs?

 

J.N. My objective was to make a positive contribution to the lives of vulnerable members of the communities through our interventions. It is satisfying to see livestock-based interventions bear fruits in beneficiaries’ households. NGOs complement Government’s work and it has given me the opportunity to collaborate with the relevant Government Ministries in driving a common agenda.

 

 

Justus (first row, right) with a part of the team of VSF-Suisse Somalia.

 
What is your primary motivation in working with VSF?
 
J.N. My motivation in working with VSF-Suisse are the good working relationships with the communities we work with and whose livelihood is mainly dependent on livestock production but also colleagues that I have teamed up with for long and the mission of VSF-Suisse. VSF-Suisse has a good name in the communities where we work.
 
What are the most challenging and rewarding things in your work?
 
J.N. It is satisfying to see farmers sustain their livestock during critical drought period and food security improved through fodder production and interventions on fodder conservation and utilization. Actually, so many things are satisfying: for example, the improved access to camel milk and the increase in camel herd size, the improvement of both the income and livelihood of households who have benefited from camel restocking, or the work of Nomadic Animal Health Auxiliaries in community based animal health services delivery.
Furthermore, I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from diverse communities in different geographical areas, such as Puntland and the Gedo region (both in Somalia), Mandera, Wajir and Isiolo Counties (all in Kenya) among others. The only challenge is insecurity in some areas.
 
You are working in Kenya and Somalia. Can you please tell us more about the similarities and differences between both countries?
 
J.N. They are numerous similarities between Kenya and Somalia, especially in our projects areas: first of all, the majority of the inhabitants are pastoralists and agro-pastoralists whose mainstay is livestock production. The main livestock species kept are cattle, sheep, goats, camels and donkeys. Donkeys play a vital role in transport, whereas milk plays a significant role in the communities’ diet. Agro-pastoralists also practice irrigation farming by using a few available seasonal or permanent rivers in support of rainfed farming.
 
Other similarities include the challenges that pastoralists and agro-pastoralists are facing in both Kenya and Somalia: cyclic droughts as a result of climate change, food insecurity challenges, rangeland degradation, resources-based conflicts (especially on water and pasture), risks of spread of trade-sensitive trans-boundary animal diseases such as Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia, Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia, Foot and Mouth disease or Peste des Petits ruminants (PPR), among others.
 
Some of the differences are the fact that, in Somalia, there are rampant population displacements, poor road infrastructures, issues of illiteracy and some areas are also riskier compared to Kenya.
 
 Isiolo (Kenya), 2016 : Justus (front row, 6th from left) and our teams in the Horn of Africa with the Programme Managers from the head office, during a regional meeting. 
 
Kenya and Somalia are currently facing drought, and Somalia is threatened by famine and conflicts in various parts of the country. Can you explain us how you organise development and emergency in such contexts?
 
J.N. Monitoring of the drought situation and preparedness are done ahead of the crisis. Assessments and community dialogues are done to ascertain the status, identify the needs as well as the magnitude of the problem, the population affected and the possible interventions.
 
Regular updates on the crisis emanate from the National Disaster Management Agency, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit, various reports, and the Food Security Cluster meetings.
 
Emergency projects proposals are developed for donor funding, or VSF-Suisse seeks modification on running projects (crisis modifier approach) to integrate emergency intervention. Some of the emergency projects components we are implementing in the current crisis through USAID/OFDA (Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance) and Swiss Solidarity funding in the Gedo region (Somalia) include notably the distribution of meat and livestock feed, water trucking and emergency animal health interventions.
Emergency livestock feed and collapsible water tanks distributions are currently implemented in Isiolo (Kenya) through FAO-Kenya funding. VSF-Suisse and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) co-chair the Livestock Emergency Working Group that plan and enhance standardization of emergency interventions among partners in Somalia.
 
VSF-Suisse links Emergencies, Rehabilitation and Development by strengthening resilience of vulnerable households to enable them to recover from shocks and prepare for a solid path to development. For instance, emergency water trucking is complemented with rehabilitation of water infrastructures, such as water pans and shallow wells. Emergency feed distribution is supported with fodder production and fodder conservation measures for sustainability- Emergency livestock treatments are followed with the strengthening of CAHWs work or training, equipping for provision of community based animal health services among others. As a climate change adaptation and in enhancing food security the camel restocking project in Kenya [project UPICAM, which you can read here] cuts across these phases.
 
Participation, inclusiveness, group formation, capacity building, collaboration with Governments and other NGOs (for example, the South West Livestock Professional Association, SOWELPA, in Gedo), strengthening of the local economy, respect of local cultures, gender relations, conflict sensitivity and environmental protection are the overarching hallmark of VSF-Suisse interventions.
 
And eventually, what are you doing during your free time?
 
During my free time I watch football, play football if the opportunity arises or I am with my family.
 
Thank you for having taken the time to answer our questions so graciously and precisely, Justus! It’s a pleasure to work with you. We wish you all the best in your work and in your private life, and we are glad to work with you.

 

Interview : Alexandra Breaud

 

 

 

Tags: africa  Kenya  Somalia 
Categories:

George Oyoko

06.10.2017
A very resourceful to VSF Suisse. Met him during LLRP I evaluation. Key up.

Leave a comment

Name* Email*
Comment*

 

Donate 

Every donation counts! You can support our projects by making a donation.

Donation account: 30-24633-4
IBAN: CH78 0900 0000 3002 4633 4

Or here...

 

 

 

Stay informed!

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay informed about VSF-Suisse's activities in the field. Here...