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World Humanitarian Day 2016: Staff profiles

Staff profiles: Simeon - Central African Republic

More than 75 percent of the Central African Republic’s working population relies on agriculture, but years of conflict and instability have stifled economic growth, as well as reduced crop and livestock production. The security situation is not improving as violence continues to displace people, while others have returned to their villages, only to find their homes and farms in ruins.

Simoen NGUELE is a logistics assistant in Bangui, where FAO is working to revitalize the country’s agriculture sector – from helping farmers supply markets with fresh and nutritious food to equipping young women and men living in post-conflict zones with agricultural skills. We spoke to Simeon about his work and the situation in the Central African Republic.

What motivated you to work in the humanitarian field?
My desire to lend a hand to help others is what motivated me to work in the humanitarian field. No one can stay indifferent in the face of the growing conflict that has impacted the life expectancy of people here which is making more and more communities vulnerable.

Can you give an overview of the scope of the emergency and what you’ve seen on field missions throughout the country?
The humanitarian situation in CAR remains sensitive. People still need assistance, you can see it in their eyes. Almost all their belongings were destroyed during the conflict. Some villages have been completely destroyed and fields have been abandoned, What’s worse is that, everyday, there are still pockets of tensions that stand in the way of our humanitarian aid.

Can you describe how the emergency/conflict has affected food security in the country? And what does that mean for the livelihoods of those that depend on agriculture?
A field for a farmer means winning the lottery; it’s the main source of livelihood for his/her family. That said, the current crisis has prevented people from going about their agricultural activities. It has therefore become extremely difficult and challenging to feed their families considering that seed stocks were destroyed, fields were burned, crops were invaded by livestock. This has resulted in people facing acute food insecurity.

How is FAO responding to the crisis?
During the emergency period, FAO began distributing thousands of livelihood kits consisting of seeds and agricultural tools, which have enabled vulnerable households to counteract the crisis by allowing them to continue farming.

What is the current focus of FAO’s emergency response in the Central African Republic?
The current focus of FAO’s emergency response in CAR is to strengthen state capacities and structures. Through the Caisse de Résilience approach, we are working with partners to provide micro-credit loans and providing quality seeds in order for beneficiaries to meet their agricultural needs.

What do farmers/pastoralists (or families that depend on agriculture for their livelihood) in the Central African Republic need most right now in terms of assistance?
They need materials and equipment to be able to farm, and also assistance like animal health kits to keep livestock healthy. But above all, they need security to go about their daily activities.

What is your role with FAO and what does it involve?
I am a Logistics Assistant. This means supporting all FAO activities in Bangui as well as supporting the activities of sub-offices in the country (delivering to partners, managing staff travels and organizing missions by land or air).

What motivates you to work in the agriculture and food security sector?
As our head of office once said, "Our future lies in agriculture." I believe in this and I think there is a future for me working in the agricultural sector.

Can you share your most inspiring moment in humanitarian (FAO) work? i.e., in terms of work achievement in the country where you are, what have you been most proud about?
At the beginning in 2013, FAO had a large emergency program with few staff support in Bangui. I am proud because we were able to manage and competently undertook the delivery to partners for implementation at the field level.

What are the biggest challenges for you and how do you cope?
To improve the logistics of activities between FAO and other partners/Enhancing the structure of agreement procedures and protocols to meet agricultural needs in time despite the insecurity.

What is the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do on the job?
Working long hours and, when required, over the weekend.