Healthy Animals - Healthy People - Healthy Environment

VSF-Suisse has a face: meet Kevin Miheso, Program Manager in South Sudan

VSF- Suisse, 28.12.2017

Kevin is from Kenya and he grew up in a farm, which fueled his love for animals and drove him to veterinary studies.


How development and emergency assistance are taking place in South Sudan, a country facing famine and conflict? What are the main challenges for VSF-Suisse in this country? Discover the answers in Kevin’s interview!


Kevin, can you tell us a little bit more about you and your personal background? I am a father, a husband, a humanitarian and a veterinarian. I was born in Vihiga County, Western Kenya, but currently I live in Nairobi. I hold a Master degree in Veterinary Science (Pathology and Diagnostics) and an undergraduate degree in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. I do love animals and having grown on a farm, they have became an inspiration in my life and Career.



How is life in South Sudan? Life in South Sudan is both interesting and challenging. I have met and engaged with people from all walks of life, including beneficiaries whom we target in our programs, which I find fulfilling. There are a lot of potential and beautiful places in the country that I have visited in the course of my work, including a rich culture, despite the protracted conflict the country has been witnessing. 

How did you join VSF-Suisse in South Sudan? I had worked previously with a national NGO in South Sudan, spearheading program development and fundraising efforts. I applied for a job position which was advertised by VSF Suisse at the beginning of 2016. I was delighted to be shortlisted and eventually passed the interview and got a job offer.


Tell us more about your work in the organization. My role as a Program Manager cuts across an array of tasks. Amon other things, I support the design and strategic development of the overall South Sudan country programs and I take part in fundraising efforts and program portfolio development. I support design and development of concept notes and projects proposals, coordination and liaison with the country and field teams including networking and communication with donors, cluster leads among other stakeholders. I’m also involved in the development of key donor reports and publications, budget following and overseeing procurement processes, representing VSF-Suisse in key thematic and cluster coordination meetings.

That’s impressive! What make you eager to work with NGOs in South Sudan? I believe in making a positive change in the lives of vulnerable populations in South Sudan.


How a typical workday looks like for you? A day usually begins at 8.00 am whereby I generally evaluate, plan and prioritize the key tasks of the day in consultation with the management team of our office in Juba. This is then followed by reviewing emails and urgent follow-ups, including liaison with field teams to get updates on project status and security updates, among others. Most times I usually have various meetings, mainly cluster coordination meetings, but I occasionally have donor and counterpart agencies meetings. Towards the end of the day, I will again review emails including following up tasks concerning operations, finance and administration. It’s also usually at the end of the day that I focus on the preparation of key project thematic reports, concept notes, projects proposals development and reviews. I mostly work till late and generally prefer working on concept notes and proposals in the evening or late hours of the day where I have maximum concentration.


South Sudan is a country currently facing conflicts and famine. Can you explain us how development and emergency assistance are taking place? Despite the country facing a protracted conflict compounded by new cycles of violence and natural disasters, there are opportunities for both emergency and development programs. Emergency assistance is relevant in regions and states with active and/or escalating fighting violence as well as natural disasters, more so the Greater Upper Nile, Greater Equatoria and Western Bahr el Ghazal are examples of regions where there are current emergency contexts. Interventions within such contexts mainly target the most fragile displaced populations facing extreme vulnerabilities within and outside internally displaced camp settings, and this justifies short term and lifesaving interventions like emergency livelihood kits distributions.
Development programs mainly apply to relatively stable regions in the country, for example former Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap states which have been less affected by conflict but they have borne the brunt of its spillover effects. These regions often have basic institutional structures that can be rapidly engaged and mobilized to support and complement interventions. The context usually mainly focusses on harnessing and tapping into the existing local capacities and resources.


Could you tell us a special experience you had in your work with VSF-Suisse? The poultry distribution component of the UNICEF funded Child Protection SERACAF project [can read it here] was a special experience in my career at VSF-Suisse. Having a solid background, extensively worked and researched in the poultry sector, but despite all of this, we encountered chicken mortalities in the initial phase. However, there were lessons learnt and the subsequent phases of the chicken project were very successful.


We had very important outcomes, notably the rehabilitation into their family of children formerly associated with armed forces, and the restoration of their livelihoods as well as their parents’ and caregivers’.

Among recently introduced breeds in the SERACAF project is the Kuroiler, adapted by VSF-Suisse in Jebel Boma County. This is a dual-purpose breed that was easily adaptable to the local scavenging environments of local chickens. The Kuroiler breed has proved early maturity (10 weeks) compared to ordinary local chickens and hens which usually start laying eggs at five months. Once they start, they will lay continuously for a period of two years. The breed performs quite well under ‘’local scavenging conditions” such as animal or plant remains, termites, plants among other locally available alternatives. While indigenous chicken produce about 40 eggs per year, Kuroiler does almost three times in the same period under almost similar conditions.
Hence restocked chicken have played crucial socioeconomic roles in addition of providing animal source protein, income generating and its role in the project of helping to promote gender equality.


What are the challenges for VSF-Suisse in South Sudan? Fundraising has always been challenging with notably a rapidly changing context and protracted conflict. These have been further affected by shifting donor focus to emerging crises in the world, among them recent migrations to European countries and conflicts in Syria and Yemen among other countries.

What is the most difficult part of your job, and what do you prefer in your job? The most difficult part of the job is working far away from my family, who is in Kenya, but I have come to term with it by ensuring I spend with them most of the time during my leave, rest and recuperation breaks.
I do prefer the openness and opportunity to come up with new ideas and concepts of programming. I also prefer doing field visits where I usually get to interact with beneficiaries and get first-hand information and feedback on our programming.
Finally, what are you doing when you’re not working? I love watching TV and listening to music while am not working. Occasionally I love visiting the river Nile and meeting friends in social gatherings. I would also watch a movie, series or documentaries. I do read books, go to the gym and swim on occasional Basis.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answering our questions and for the incredible work you are doing every day in South Sudan. We are glad to have you with us!
(Interview: Alexandra Breaud)






Tags: africa  South Sudan 

Dr Martin Barasa

Kevin, your story accurately reflects the work of VSF Suisse in South Sudan. You have adapted well and quickly since joining VSF Suisse and you are a very dependable management team member. I have no words to thank you for making my life as CD at least bearable since joining us with the immense support you provide to the overall program management. Wishing you well as you carry on the good work of VSF Suisse in South Sudan in the years to come.

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