MSc in Humanitarian Action, UCD
Desire works on an Irish Aid funded project to strengthen disaster resilience. He received a fellowship to study for a Masters at University College Dublin for 2014-15.
Before coming here I was working as a Project Officer in a project called 'Strengthening Community Disaster Resilience', which is funded by Irish Aid. This project mainly covers two major components: food security and disaster risk reduction. In food security it involves improving crop production, improving livestock production and improving marketing skills so that community members can increase income. Disaster risk reduction work focuses on preparedness, response and mitigation of the impacts. My work involved designing the programmes, interventions and co-ordinating the implementation.
I previously did a BSc in Agriculture which basically covered the technical aspects of agriculture like crop production and livestock production as well as marketing skills for improved income. Since Malawi is an agro-based economy, priority is given to agriculture based programmes. However, Malawi is also prone to disasters due to natural hazards like floods. As I am speaking now we have been hit by floods which we have never experienced before. About 200,000 people have been affected and displaced from their homes. As such, these are kind of problems which necessitated/motivated me to enrol for a programme that cover some aspects of disaster risk reduction and humanitarian work so that I can enhance my knowledge and skills on disaster risk management programmes, climate change adaptation programmes, environmental management programmes and civil protection in general. The MSc in Humanitarian Action fits well into those areas. Coupled with the technical background in agriculture, the post graduate knowledge will help me to be able to design policies and strategies which will in the end help the government to come up with programmes that might contribute to disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, food security hence sustainable livelihoods and development of Malawi as a country.
So far I have benefited from the fellowship in a lot of ways; benefits to do with the technical knowledge but also benefits to do with the things I have been exposed to. What I am bringing back home is this new way of thinking, new way of approaching situations, new way of supporting the affected community. By looking at how Ireland is set up, the systems, the policies, I’ve really learnt a lot, through the rich history which I have learnt of Ireland since the 1850s has given me a new way of new way perceiving situations and matters, the whole range of issues, from classroom to the social set up, that will help me to be creative and innovative.
The core part of my research will be about disaster risk preparedness, management and response because that is what I have been doing, but Malawi being an agro-based economy, I am now looking at how I can link the two.
I will dedicate my career to humanitarian work. Humanitarian work covers a lot of components but I will mainly focus on relief and development. Currently we have to do relief but we also have to think about development. When I get back home I will have to work to translate whatever I have learnt here into practice. That will still involve working with the projects but in the future I am hoping to move a little higher into a decision making position.
In the future I would like to see my country improve economically because Malawi is very poor. On the human development index we are very low. In the next five years I would like to see us move up to the next level. Economically we need to grow and the food situation needs to improve. My dream is big. But I know we will achieve it. With the help we are getting from Irish Aid we will be able to achieve it.