A bit about what I'm doing in Africa. Prepare yourself for some acronyms.

I am now with World Vision International (WVI, or WV for short), the largest non-governmental organization (NGO) doing humanitarian work on this continent (based on spend. I think its World Food Program - WFP, World Health Organization - WHO, and UNICEF - all 3 of which are public orgs - who are bigger). WV is:

...a Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. Inspired by our Christian values, we are dedicated to working with the world’s most vulnerable people. We serve all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

I am the Program Manager for Supply Chain Management (SCM) Implementations in Africa. WV has, I believe, National Offices (NOs) in 26 African nations, and those offices are typically structured according to their main functions - an operations department, an HR department, a finance department, and other departments on a more ad hoc basis depending on WV's particular work in a given country (AIDS/HIV response, Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs - HEA, water projects, Children of War programmes, etc.).

A few years back, WV identified SCM as a key internal initiative - with the help of my former employer, Accenture, and their ADP program, which is how I first came to be working with WV's Global SCM unit. As part of the strategy for building SCM as a function within the organization, the Implementation team was set up to work with NO's to identify the need within the NO, and assess the organizational structure impacts and make recommendations to address them. The team then carry out the actual training of the staff on the tools and processes to be used in key SCM functions such as Procurement (the main function we focus on initially - other stuff comes later: Fleet Management, Warehouse/Inventory Management, SC Planning, etc.). In layman's terms, SCM is the part of the organization that gets "stuff" for the organization, and then gets said stuff from where it is to where it needs to be.

I'm tasked with setting up SCM offices in at least 6 countries this (fiscal) year and a good deal more in the year to follow. Once we've established the function in all of the NO's in Africa, Asia is next in line (we've already started some assessment work in Mongolia, where I might end up sooner or later).

So yeah, that's me in a nutshell. Lots of Program Management type work (fitting, for a Program Manager, no?) - planning, budgeting, more planning, selling the project internally with Senior Management Teams, and managing the specialists that actually carry out the assessments and implementations in-country. Its a challenging position but as my boss' boss has told me, "if it was an easy job than we wouldn't need you here to do it."

There's a lot of very reasoned debate amongst many minds greater than mine around the places of relief and development in the 3rd world. Many feel that the former is preventing the latter, and not without good reason. That said, I feel both are important, and with about a year of insight into WV before deciding to hop aboard, I saw them doing both, and in a fairly balanced approach. The organization is not perfect and could benefit from myriad improvements - my particular line of work is just one of those potential areas for growth. There's a lot of work to be done and sometimes it looks rather endless, from where I'm standing, but I believe in what I'm doing - and having been in other positions where I couldn't say that, I think its important.

No blogging lately, work has been pretty intense lately. I move next week to my new place and I'm still looking for a car. Easter is a 4 day weekend holiday here in Kenya and it couldn't come at a better time. I feel like I gave up sleeping for Lent.