First days out of Lubumbashi !

I’m well arrived at Kalemie, after flying in small aircrafts (18-30 persons maximum) and a stop at Kamina to change for aircraft. Very exciting experience to travelling in this very huge country. I flew during nearly 2h30 … and this was only to reach the north of Katanga ! DRC is equivalent to 4 times the size of France! Just incredible !!! It was really nice to see rivers like a snake on the landscape, big forest… and in some places, water looks like golden river with the sun’s reflection on water…

At my arrival at Kalemie, I was flying upon the Tanganyika Lake which looks like a sea. The lake is a natural frontier with Tanzania. Very beautiful place! …. The weather is hotter here … so the war against mosquitoes begins here… 🙂 This night was my first experience in living and sleeping in a military basis. This is part of the experience of working for a UN agency. I slept like a baby and a cat has decided to be by my roommate 🙂

Today I have met partners from the regional distribution center of Kalemie in order to conduct interviews to better understand the distribution channels of drugs and medical devices in the district of Tanganika. Here again, the root issue is the big size of the country and the difficulty of access to communities in order to cover their needs.

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Tomorrow, wake up at 05:00 to take the road to Kongolo since the flight to Kongolo was cancelled. One day of travel by road … but anyway, the most is important is to reach the final destination, isn’t it ?

In Kongolo, I will support UNICEF staff and their governmental partners to assist local staff in the evaluation of child survival program in different domains such as education, health … I have proposed to work on memory aid to synthesize the methodology to collect data routinely and also to draw attention on key points regarding the quality of data collection which is a big issue here. My idea was to provide them with synthetic and pedagogic kit of information so that local staff could quickly and easily understand how to collect data. By sharing this idea with another colleague among UNICEF’s staff, he was really interested and he proposed me to train other sections to monitoring and evaluation. And of course I have accepted !!!

Good to see that after 2 weeks of observation I came to same conclusions that my UNICEF colleagues in terms of issues and challenges. Now the task is to have a relevant contribution in a very short time !!!

Challenges are very huge here and there are so many things to do! Very hard to stay focused on one main task as there are a lot of interactions between all these issues. For instance, how to report data collection on a routinely basis in a small area where there is no access to Internet and no easy access to road. Therefore reporting data in these areas means 1 or 2 days of travel just to bring a report of data to a central bureau in charge of centralizing information. Every day I should not forget that I cannot solve all the problems identified and that my contribution, even little, is a contribution….

Laure Benjamin, PULSE 2014, Volunteer at UNICEF, Democratic Republic of Congo

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