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- Mercy Corps
- Save the Children
- World Vision
- ECB Agencies Assess their Progress One Year On
- 2011 Agency Self-Assessment Survey Reveals Progress in Key Areas
ECB Project on TwitterThe Emergency Food Security and Livelihoods 48hr assessment tool is now available in #Bahasa #Indonesia: http://t.co/Ij4HZCDcys 7 hours ago
Interview with Susan Romanski, Mercy Corps
What has been your role on the project over the past 5 years?
If you were talking to someone, for example your successor Anne Castleton at Mercy Corps, how would you describe the ECB Project in 2-3 sentences?
I tell people that the ECB Project is an innovative collaboration that has changed the way many humanitarians operate in emergencies. We are much less competitive with each other and much more collaborative. It is a great opportunity to be more efficient and not re-invent things – a way for agencies to take the lead in different areas that produce learning for the rest of the international community rather than all of us trying to do all things.
Susan, can you share with us an example of your most inspiring project / program (within ECB?)?
I really enjoyed working on the ECB Good Enough Guide for Accountability because it brought important accountability concepts together in a way that field staff can easily integrate them. During this second phase, I have really enjoyed working on the DRRI Water Project funded by ITT Watermark. This is because I have learned so much about working with corporations and stepping out of our comfort zone as NGOs into a world that needs more innovation to try and solve common challenges around water and mitigating future hazards.
If you were to manage any ECB programs inter-agency again in the future, how would you do it differently?
I think a challenge of the project has been that so many humanitarian workers need to respond to continuing emergencies around the world which causes some initiatives to wax and wane in their energy. I think involving more staff working on longer term development projects would be beneficial. There are two benefits here: 1) development workers will understand how emergency preparedness and DRR are good to protect development investments; and 2) the staff will also bring a little more consistency over time towards program outputs.
Can you describe how you overcame a specific challenge that you have faced?
At Mercy Corps, we had the challenge within our emergency unit around representation for the accountability initiative and our agency manager solved it by involving several of our development staff in different countries, including Pakistan, in the initiative. It has been a very positive development because: 1) we can contribute more effectively; and 2) we have other champions outside the humanitarian unit.
Can you share your perspective on the skills and competencies you think are necessary for someone working on a collaboration project like ECB?
I think there are three main things: 1. a natural desire and belief in the potential of collaboration; 2. the flexibility and patience to achieve decisions within a larger group; and 3. excellent communication skills with an eye to the larger goal of the project.
What factors do you think will critically determine the success / failure of the ECB Project over the remaining two years?
Whether or not we can share our learning effectively with the international community.
Do you believe the ECB Project could have an impact on the humanitarian sector as a whole, e.g. as part of the humanitarian reform process?
Yes, by demonstrating that some things are more efficiently done through collaboration and other things are more effectively implemented individually, but sharing lessons widely so others can learn from what we have learned. The spirit of the ECB Project is to move forward as an international community and not just spin our wheels individually or duplicate the same mistakes. Learning through collaboration and sharing is the message.
Can you describe any positive impacts the ECB Project has supported within Mercy Corps?
In the first phase, I think the importance of DRR became something that became a huge priority in our unit and is gaining importance throughout Mercy Corps. In the second phase, developing an accountability framework has been taken on with passion not only our unit but by many headquarters and field staff throughout the agency.
Finally, Susan, how has the ECB Project made a difference for your professional work? How do you imagine you might reflect on your involvement in the Emergency Capacity Building project in years to come?
I remember very clearly the NGO culture and context when I was responding to emergencies as a team leader before ECB, and after ECB. We are doing things differently now – it is now expected and encouraged when you have a challenge or idea for collaboration in the field that you can call your colleague agencies, whereas before it was more competitive. I assume most of us do this work for similar reasons with the hopes of achieving similar goals so the ECB Project has been a good start to achieve these goals as a more cohesive international community and not just as individual agencies.