The implementation of humanitarian action is one of the best training grounds for management and leadership. By definition, humanitarian action occurs in crises – moments when a society is in rapid transition from one state to the other. These environments are uncertain, highly dynamic and unpredictable. Highly diverse people must quickly form into a well functioning team. Moreover, in spite of the heroic image of the solitary aid worker helping a neighbour or volunteering in the community, international humanitarian action is largely conducted through a concert of organisations and institutions. Humanitarian action is about inter-organisational collaboration. No single organisation can reach the aspirations of our international legal instruments.
Refugee Camp Management
A good refugee camp manager faces medical, technical, managerial, political, diplomatic, security, and psychological challenges, and then goes beyond to stimulate an environment where refugees can take control of their situation. I have been a camp manager in the following places:
Emergency team leadership
I was the leader of CARE International’s emergency team in Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo from June to December 1994. As such, I managed the creation of a life-saving operation that was responsible for the construction and management of ten refugee camps containing 110,000 people, including support operations, along with 50 international staff and 200 national staff. There was no functioning state infrastructure or rule of law at the time.
I was the co-ordinator of CARE Canada’s humanitarian work for two years, which involved being intimately involved in the operational and strategic issues for several major international emergencies, such as North Korea, Hurricane Mitch and the Kosovo crisis. In this role one must be an efficient administrator, effective fundraiser and competent representative.