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Interview with Claus Sørensen, former director of Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, EU. After more than 25 years in the aid sector, Claus Sørensen joined our Board.
Without a thorough knowledge of the different sectors, be it protection, health, hygiene or water supply, we cannot do our job well. Without building capacities and knowledge, we slip up and cannot achieve effective results. And this is true for NGOs, that is to say for Northern organisations, because here we have our own traditions, dating back from Solferino 150 years ago, traditions that developed after World War II, with the conflicts in Yugoslavia and so forth.
So here, we are aware of the importance of capacity building, of building knowledge. The big challenge according to me is capacity building in the beneficiary countries, in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. And something needs to be developed in that area.
For that matter, this is one of Istanbul’s commitment to action, “localisation”: aid is indeed better delivered and more effective if not only beneficiary populations are included, but local NGOs as well, NGOs who work in their own country.
They need to be trained, they need to be given the knowledge and skills that we have here. Obviously this must be adapted to local situations. Because it is not us who come with our system, we discuss with them and see what fits and what does not.
It means we have to give them the means to take care of themselves. And in the end we know for sure that it’s the most effective thing to do. If you take care of yourself, you don’t need others’ help and it is more deserving to be able to “manage your own shop”. But all this requires a transfer of knowledge and capabilities, and Bioforce is very well placed for this because you have an excellent reputation. This is also why I agreed to sponsor the students this year: you are completely in line with a beautiful tradition.
Capacity reinforcement is a major issue today. The quality of humanitarian aid for vulnerable populations depends greatly on the capacity of the organisations and individuals involved. The Bioforce Institute is developing new capacity building approaches in support of the humanitarian community. In 2015, we have trained over 2600 people in humanitarian professions and skills. Among them, 60% were Africans, mainly from Guinea, DRC, Burkina Faso, Mali & Niger.