From toys to tools
Hakim Froissart has always had a keen interest in all things related to logistics, and a passion for supporting the work of humanitarian organisations. Born in Morocco and raised in France, he followed his dreams all the way to Lyon where he attended the prestigious Bioforce course to study logistics in the humanitarian context. 30 years later, his passion for logistics is still burning strong. He has worked with numerous humanitarian organisations over the years, both as a logistics officer and as nurse, adapting to the requirements of each operation to support the needs of the beneficiaries. In recent years he has worked with the Logistics Cluster, joining the logistics efforts in various operations. His experience as both a nurse and a logistics officer provides him with a unique perspective on his role as Logistics Cluster Coordinator for Ethiopia to respond to the changing requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Can you tell us about your background and how it has prepared you for this mission?
After my studies in Lyon, I went on my first mission in Mali where I stayed for three years. After that, I went on a short mission to Chad for the cholera outbreak. Next was Malawi for one year, for the opening of the AIDS programme mission, a big programme that is still on-going. I took a break when I had my first daughter. Then I decided to go to nursing school for three years, followed by four years of working in a hospital.
In 2006, I went back on mission with Action Against Hunger (ACF) to Darfur, Sudan, as a Logistics Officer. Then I was Logistics Coordinator in Liberia for ACF, and for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) I was in charge of the cold chain for the measles vaccination campaign in Burkina Faso. I also worked for MSF in DRC as a nurse, where I was in charge of mobile clinics and a health centre.
My first mission with the Logistics Cluster was in Guinea for the Ebola outbreak, then Nepal for two months after the earthquake. That was five years ago, and now I am back with the Logistics Cluster here in Ethiopia. My last two assignments with the Logistics Cluster prepared me the most for this mission. They gave me an overview, a global view, of how the Logistics Cluster works and what is expected from the Logistics Cluster when it operates in such a context.
What is your favourite thing about the job?
My favourite thing about the job is mainly that I get to play with my favourite toys. For example, in Guinea, we built up a forward logistics base and we had helicopters, we had trucks, motorbikes, pickups, planes and we hired a fire service company. All the toys that I used to play with when I was a kid!
Forward Logistic Base Kissidougou in Guinea. Photo: Hakim Froissart.
How has COVID-19 impacted your work?
I would say it’s working with people that I have never met in real life. We talk on the phone, have virtual meetings, but most of the time we never get a chance to meet. That has been the main impact.
What are the biggest challenges?
For this specific mission, it has been difficult that we have received some requests from partners that we have not yet been able to facilitate due to administrative challenges.
What does a typical working day look like?
It will start by checking the emails to see if anything urgent came in overnight, then I check with the team if there is any feedback and any news or updates. After that, I spend a lot of my time in meetings (such as coordination meetings with government counterparts and other humanitarian partners).
What are your expectations for the mission?
I have quite big expectations! In the beginning, when the Logistics Cluster was activated in Ethiopia, there was no concrete idea of what the main operations would look like. Of course, there are the usual services that the Logistics Cluster can provide in countries, like facilitating inland transport, air transport and storage. But for this specific mission there's a new aspect, a new project we are working on. It is a preparedness plan for the cold chain of vaccines for the vaccination campaigns for COVID-19. If this works well, I am hopeful that it will help other countries to build the same kind of project.
Forward logistics base in Nepal. Photo: Hakim Froissart
To learn more about the Logistics Cluster operation in Ethiopia, visit our dedicated page.