Voices: Finding inspiration in the field

“I am inspired by colleagues who implement projects in challenging areas of the region, such as in Darfur, Mogadishu and remote areas of Somalia,” - Kazuyo Mitsuhashi, Project Management Analyst, Nairobi

I joined UNOPS in April 2014 as a Project Coordinator in Sudan, where I worked on project development and supported the implementation of a Water Treatment Plant Rehabilitation project in Darfur, funded by the Japanese Government. In March 2015, I moved to UNOPS in Kenya as a Junior Professional Officer (JPO).

I am involved in the implementation of two projects: market rehabilitation in Bossaso, a port town in North Somalia, and a Transport Sector Needs Assessment throughout Somalia. I also work in partnership development, in close coordination with the Embassy of Japan in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. I am grateful to work in such a dynamic office and have the opportunity to travel throughout Somalia. It gives me a deeper understanding about the country and its people, as well as the operation of projects in fragile environments.

My experience with UNOPS in East Africa has been fascinating. I am inspired by colleagues who implement projects in challenging areas of the region, such as in Darfur, Mogadishu and remote areas of Somalia, despite the constraints and high security concerns. I believe that the presence of highly qualified and motivated colleagues with diverse backgrounds is one of UNOPS major strengths. I also enjoy working with partners who are helping to make a difference, while building confidence in themselves and taking real ownership of the projects.

Prior to joining UNOPS, I worked at the Japanese Embassy in Sudan. In March 2011, after the Japanese Government had signed an agreement with UN agencies to support Sudan and South Sudan, my country was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami. People were suffering in my own country, but at the same time we were still providing, thanks to the generosity of the people of Japan, approximately $80 million in emergency assistance to these two countries. I committed myself to supporting the efficiency of the project; it moved me to understand that the contribution from donors to recipients is an exchange of generous goodwill between people in different countries. Therefore, as a member of UNOPS, I try to work as much as possible to achieve the best output within each given circumstance.  

I am also currently in a PhD programme that focuses on the role of external actors in peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction processes in fragile states. From this perspective, I am very interested in understanding UNOPS work to analyse the process, impact and challenges of international assistance on a country's state-building process, following armed conflict. Building on my background and experience, I aim to develop a better understanding of international assistance in post-conflict and fragile environments. With this exercise, I am hoping to make a practical contribution for project implementation in the field.