It’s been two weeks since I started my job as the Projects Coordinator for Sustainable Development at Salvation Army International Development (SAID) UK, and so far, I love it! For all of my US readers, no, I do not work at some sort of international thrift shop. (Sorry no free ugly Christmas sweaters.) The Salvation Army is actually an international church working in 124 countries which focuses heavily on speaking out about social injustice – like human trafficking and wealth gaps. Specifically, there are over 800 Salvation Army churches in the UK and Ireland, and SAID UK supports development projects throughout the world with funds raised through these churches. (Check us out on facebook!)
My job is to coordinate all of the projects that SAID supports that focus on water, agriculture, or income generation. Currently all of these projects are within Africa, but I may take on two projects in Asia in a few months. Right now, I am coordinating around 20 projects in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and the DR Congo, ranging from around $10,000 (USD) over six months to more than $500,000 over three years. Projects focus on things like community livestock banks, microfinance for small business, and WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene). One example of a really innovative project is the construction of a Sand Dam in rural Kenya which will provide a year-round supply of clean water to the community. A Sand Dam is a relatively simple rainwater harvesting technology that that is low maintenance and low cost – perfect for semi-arid climates.
So what exactly does ‘coordinating’ mean? First, every project has to go through a long process of approvals by the proposing territorial office in Africa, our office, and the Salvation Army International Headquarters, which is also based in London before it can receive any funding. It’s my job to make sure that the process goes as smoothly and quickly as possible. After the project has received funding, I do a lot of follow up communication with the project staff on the ground to ensure that activities are happening as planned. This is very similar to the monitoring and evaluation work that I did last year at IDI in Uganda. Finally, I offer technical assistance and advice to the staff on the ground by doing things like helping them think through future projects, providing resources, and assisting with tools like budgets and workplans.
Basically, I couldn’t have wished for a better job – working from London on development in Africa is ‘absolutely brilliant,’ and I’m ‘keen’ to see what the next eight months will bring!