Why do you like working for UNDP?
I joined UNDP to fulfill a long standing wish to assist those in need. I wanted to work for an organization that makes rights-based work a core value. Having previously worked in other sister agencies and bilateral partners, I think UNDP definitely adds value to development work. It is not only UNDP’s neutrality and independence but its focus on a human-rights based approach to programming and its leverage in building consensus and reaching out to multiple groups that is world class.
What’s the most memorable occasion when you saw the positive impact your work had on the people in the country where you’re based?
When I worked as a Governance Specialist in Timor-Leste, I endeavored to balance the common top-down approach of strengthening institutional capacities of our counterparts with a more balanced bottom-up vision which aimed at analyzing the role and contribution of civil society in the changing development environment of Timor-Leste. As a result, in partnership with the DSRSG office and in close coordination with the UN peacekeeping mission and the UNCT, I drove the establishment of a Civil Society Advisory Committee to the UN which served as a forum for the UN to systematically engage with national NGOs, think-tanks, social movements, community/based organizations, and academia. In addition, this forum contributed to policy development in the UNCT, not only with regard to policies involving civil society but also on broad development policy. One outcome generated by this forum was an empowered civic society leverage in the policy making processes. A good example of this leverage was the submission of substantive inputs to the Government by women groups that led to the revision of the Gender Equality Law.
What are some of the challenges of working in a large international civil service organization like UNDP and how do you manage them?
Having worked in development, post-conflict and conflict environments, I have come to understand that the challenges of working in a large international organization like UNDP can differ from place to place. This means that modalities to mitigate or address development issues can also differ from one crisis country to another. From my experience in Afghanistan, the main challenge I faced is the competition with other international organizations to mobilize financial resources, in a transition period where the presidential elections, the drawdown of the UN political mission and the phasing out of NATO were happening almost simultaneously in 2014. To do “more” with “less” resources I have been trying to invest in responsive institutions that deliver essential services to citizens at the central and provincial levels. In particular, as I am managing a project component of rule of law and human rights, I have been building technical capacity and know-how in the Ministry of Justice to raise public legal awareness. This has also had the tripling effect of positioning UNDP as “Lead Assistant” the justice sector and of mobilizing additional resources from donors for outreach interventions. It is a very interesting work in a challenging environment.
What do you like to do when you are not at work?
The very volatile security environment in conflicts environment restricts my freedom of movement and limits possibility to enjoy an ordinary personal life. As a coping strategy, when I am not at work I try to exercise at the gym- if available in compounds. I also read books.