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World Humanitarian Day: humanitarians in Cordaid

Story Humanitarian aid

Ahmed Mohammed is our Humanitarian Aid Programme Coordinator who joined Cordaid Ethiopia in July 2020. Throughout the past year, he has been leading our humanitarian aid interventions, including the Ethiopian COVID Joint Response (ECJR) and the Ethiopia Tigray Joint Response (ETJR). These responses were implemented with the Dutch Relief Alliance (DRA).

As we celebrate World Humanitarian Day, Ahmed sat down with the DRA to discuss what his work means to him.

“When I was a kid, I wanted to become a pilot. Things worked out differently. And for the better. Now, being a humanitarian, I teach my kids that reaching out to others in need is the best thing you can do in life.

Becoming a pilot is tough. But being a good humanitarian is equally tough. You need to maximize benefits for those who need it most. Be as effective and efficient with the limited resources you have. Stay neutral and impartial in life-threatening crises that divide people. Saving lives is your mission. You have to act fast. At the same time, you have to account for every dollar of taxpayer’s or donor’s money you spend. You need to deal with insecurity. Colleagues do get killed in action. To mention just part of the job description.

“Humanitarian work is strenuous and burdensome. You can never do enough. But it’s also rewarding because you see the immediate effect of what you do.”

Ethiopia has been going through hard times. Droughts, locust invasions, and armed conflict have killed and displaced so many people. The previous Joint Response focused on health care, safe drinking water and sanitation, and cash support. Now we do a lot of food distribution and provide safe shelter.

The work can be hectic. Field trips, paperwork, coordination, data collection, reporting. I do all of this. And of course, we constantly need to adapt interventions to changing realities. That’s the volatility of conflict. You never know what the next day will bring.

Before this job, I worked in development aid. It takes years before you see the fruits of that work. Humanitarian work is strenuous and burdensome. You see a lot of suffering and interventions are usually too short. You can never do enough. But it’s also rewarding because you see the immediate effect of what you do.

My wife is happy and proud of what I do. But sometimes she is shocked. Last week, for example, I visited a crisis area. We were stopped by armed rebels. These guys, you never know what they are up to. Luckily, we could continue. By now, I am more or less used to these situations. But back home, my wife doesn’t like to hear about them.”