Mamadee Baro, Plan International’s regional deputy director for operations in the Senegalese capital Dakar says staffs in Liberia have got to adjust their operational strategies to cope with the prevailing emergency in the country if the organization is to continue to save lives.
“You cannot treat an emergency as if you are dealing with a normal situation or running normal program. What Plan has on the book are for normal operations. This is an emergency situation. So, in order for us to make impacts and save more lives, you people that work here on the ground have to adopt emergency steps,” he made the statement at an assessment briefing when he, along with four other senior managers of the organization visited Monrovia to assess Plan’s response in the fight against the Ebola virus disease.
His statement came when Plan Liberia’s country management team among other challenges named internal operational and system challenges as well as lack of experience in emergency response systems such as system coordination, commitment and field management, as factors affecting its response mechanisms.
Mr. xyz is Plan Liberia’s emergency response head. In a PowerPoint presentation in the organization’s headquarters in Sinkor, Monrovia, he also emphasized the unavailability of quality human resource including deployment and support from regional and international headquarters; working through local NGOs with weak capacity as well as poor coordination of response in the country despite the number of clusters as main challenges facing the organization’s Ebola response.
For DDO Baro, emergency situations like the Ebola outbreak naturally come with their own peculiarities that will require new learning and strategic adaptation.
Baro was not the only member of the delegation with this opinion. Plan USA Chief Executive Officer, Tessie San Martin, responding to questions about what Plan could have done better in its support to fight Ebola in Liberia, told me at one of the Community Care Centers (CCC) in Bomi that the virus outbreak presented new challenges not only to Plan but to everyone. “This whole outbreak was new and it presented new and strange challenges to everyone. So, it is not about what could have been done better. We all learned as we intervened. What is important now is how we can continue to support our team here in Liberia to save more lives” she said.
Agreed Baro; saving lives was more than anything else. “You can’t keep money when people are dying. We know the rules are in the book but will you keep the money when people are dying? I say no! Go ahead to spend the money but in a transparent and justifiable way to save life. One life saved is worth more than millions of dollars,” he reiterated in a chat with me in Tubmanburg, Bomi County.
Other members of the delegation were Awa xyz, Communications Manager in the Dakar regional office, Jonathan Mitchell, Director of International Programs, Tanya Barron, Chief Executive for Plan’s UK office, and Tessie San Martin, Chief Executive at Plan Washington DC office.
STORY BY: Samuka V. Konneh (Monrovia)