UNOPS

21/08/2014

"I wanted to participate in changing the world" - Felix Frantzo, UNOPS

"I was first motivated to work in humanitarian aid because I wanted to participate in changing the world and making it a better place to live." - Felix Frantzo, Head of Operations, Haiti

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1. What sort of competing priorities do you have to juggle in your daily job?

In my daily job, one of the competing priorities I have to juggle is delivering results under tight deadlines. After the 2010 earthquake devastated Haiti, the priority was to allow people to return to their lives in a safer environment. We held focus groups with the community to encourage understanding about relocation processes and the benefits of living in a safer place. This can be a long process, as it sometimes requires them to change their social habits.  

2. What is the hardest part of your work? What is the most rewarding?

 

The hardest part of my job is building community understanding about how important it is to change the way people do things. It is important that we deliver our projects on time and provide the best-quality results, which will benefit local people in the long term. It is also important to highlight the need to take better care of the environment they live in. The most rewarding part for me is seeing satisfied beneficiaries after we finish a project.

 

3. What first motivated you to work in humanitarian aid?

I was first motivated to work in humanitarian aid because I wanted to participate in changing the world and making it a better place to live. I am lucky to have the chance to start that right here in my own country.

4. What is the most surprising/unexpected thing you have come across during a field visit?

It is a paradox because it can be just as difficult to find the best strategy to get a  community involved at the beginning of a project as it can be to clearly define roles and responsibilities throughout the project cycle, to make sure decision-making is not affected.

Some people in the community can be sceptical when we begin implementing a project. We work in different ways than people may be used to. For example, during a field visit, one beneficiary had asked the engineer building her house to stop the work. She wanted to be hired on site, given that he was working at her residence. At the end of construction, she ended up defending the engineer in the same situation with another beneficiary. After her participation in a focus group with our social mobilization team, she realized the engineer was not in charge of recruitment, and that, in order to deliver the highest-quality results, we cannot hire people without the proper qualifications. We must be diligent in our work processes and hiring procedures, to make sure we hire people with the right skills for the job.  

5. What do you think humanitarian workers and organizations need to do better to further improve the lives of people in need?

For me, one of the main things that humanitarian workers and organizations need to do to further improve the lives of people in need is to be as close as possible to the community and people living there. It is important to create a relationship of proximity between projects and communities, and identify the real needs of its people.