The Inter-Agency Logistics Base in Maiduguri has been managed by Première Urgence International (PUI) on behalf of the Logistics Sector since December 2016. Juliette Guegan worked as the first warehouse manager and ended her assignment in May. She tells us about her experience working with the Logistics Sector Nigeria for those six months.
How long have you been with the PUI for?
Nigeria was my second assignment with PUI. Before that, I have been working as Grants Manager in Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI). Previously, I had worked as a Programme Manager for cash and voucher distributions with another French organisation, Triangle Génération Humanitaire (TGH), in Iraq.
Have you come across a Logistics Cluster or Logistics Sector operation in your previous field assignments? Was this project different from your previous jobs?
No, this was my first experience with the sector/cluster coordination. I learned a lot, especially about stakeholder management as I had to develop and maintain relationships with many humanitarian organisations based in Maiduguri. This was a new angle of work for me and made the assignment very interesting - the main difference from my previous assignments was that I used to mainly interact with the local communities in KRI or in Iraq, whereas in Nigeria, the humanitarian actors were ‘project beneficiaries’ which impacted a lot on my way of working. I definitely developed a lot more flexibility in my project management routine because of this.
What was your experience working with the Logistics Sector team in Nigeria?
I had a good experience working with the Logistics Sector and the team was very supportive throughout my time there. I liked that we could have open discussions and meet anytime, whenever it was needed. The team was always keen to discuss and welcomed any suggestions for improvements at the warehouse. All the decisions were made jointly, which I believe is the key to successful partnerships.
What was the best part of working as a warehouse manager at the Inter-Agency Logistics Base?
It was great to see the partnership evolving as the new common services had become available at the Inter-Agency Logistics Base. During my time in Maiduguri, the Logistics Sector through PUI started to offer air cargo consolidation to support UNHAS operations and built a temperature controlled area for medical supplies. Before my departure the construction of a timber shed had started and plans were ongoing for building a kitting area and a training/conference room. These will be made available to the humanitarian community in July.
What was the biggest challenge when managing the Inter-Agency Logistics Base in Maiduguri?
I think the most difficult part of the assignment was the beginning of the project when we had to “advertise” the services to the organizations on the ground and explain how to access the free-to user storage space by submitting the service requests. We had to organise many bilateral meetings to understand the needs of humanitarian organisations, but also to build relationships based on trust which is at the basis of project success.
The next phase, when we started to expand the offered services and to transform the simple warehouse facility into the Logistics Base making available a variety of facilities in support of the humanitarian community, was easier as we had already secured buy-in and trust from the partners.
What would be your suggestions for the future of the Inter-Agency Logistics Base?
I would only say that the current and future services at the Inter-Agency Logistics Base should be adjusted and shaped according to the partners’ needs which are continuously assessed by the Logistics Sector team. Flexibility is the key element to meet the needs of the humanitarian partners as the context in Nigeria is very dynamic.
One of the meetings between PUI and the Logistics Sector at the Inter-Agency Logistics Base: “I liked that we could have open discussions and meet anytime, whenever it was needed, “says Juliette Guegan.
“I miss the warehouse team, who were extremely devoted to their job but we also had lots of good laughs together,” says Juliette Guegan (fourth from the right). “I hope to see them again one day.”