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For Deakin graduate Edouard Nizeyimana, working with the United Nations (UN) Food Programme in Benin Africa has provided him with the opportunity to help save the lives of the starving and homeless.
Having served with the UN in various roles for over 25 years, Edouard explains that his employment encompasses many wide-ranging responsibilities.
"I am currently Deputy Country Director for the United Nations World Food Programme in Benin and Togo in West Africa. My main responsibilities include vulnerability analysis, needs assessment in emergency and emergency response, rehabilitation and development. I also play a leading role in resource mobilisation for our school feeding programme, Togolese refugees in Benin, HIV impacted people and orphans and drought affected people in northern Benin. This involves administrative, financial and logistics management through chairing various committees in programme planning and implementation, human resources and recruitment, procurement and transport, as well as services contracting."
Edouard says that his employment can be sometimes highly emotional yet very rewarding.
"My most heartening success is undertaking food distribution to the destitute, hungry and vulnerable people that have lost everything, including their livelihoods. In most cases, refugees and internally displaced people have nothing except their very fragile lives. Successfully reaching out to them with food and water programmes that I have helped design and implement is an achievement I am very proud of as I know my work has assisted so many people over the years."
"I firmly believe that children are our future and I still get emotional when I see stunted and starving children responding to supplementary rations, recovering from malnutrition, growing healthy and attending school. This is a very rewarding part of my job."
"In poverty stricken countries I have worked in I have come across some unbelievably underweight pregnant women whose lives and the lives of their babies are under high risk. Selective feeding programmes targeting this group has brought about great hope and improvement not only to the women themselves but also to infants and other members of their households. Overall my work this has had a great impact on my attitude to life," he said.
An academic high-achiever educated initially in London, Edouard says that his off-campus course at Deakin has made his skills set more transferable in the global workplace.
"I feel more confident in my job as I have acquired significant analytical skills to tackle a diverse range of international development matters. My course has given me greater freedom to relocate geographically and into different international development organisations. I am now considering the possibility of pursuing a research degree in 'poverty reduction and economics of survival' with Deakin."
"My Masters was excellent, especially the flexibility, the understanding and the responsiveness of the faculty staff. The course had the perfect combination of theoretical principles and practical experience that clearly enhances analytical skills. The analysis of the concept of development as modernisation was exciting for me."
"It is a very well designed academic programme however I believe the course could be further enhanced by taking some of the focus off the Asian region and placing some added emphasis on the African and Latin American economic situations in the study materials. This would constitute a significant comparative advantage for the course."
As for the future, Edouard has his sights firmly set on continuing his work with the impoverished.
"I am committed to pursuing a career in poverty reduction programmes specifically addressing hunger, primary health care and basic education that contribute to UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This involves the promotion of people-centered services in poverty alleviation, action research in development trends, resources endowment and wealth redistribution. All aspects of international governance, social justice and ensuring the voices of the poor are heard by governments hold great significance for me," he said.
Always planning for a better future for the peoples of Africa, Edouard has some advice for countries the world over.
"I am not an activist but I do believe that a small proportion of the $800 billion invested annually in the weapons industry around the world would make a huge difference if it was efficiently redirected into poverty programmes," he said.