When someone new joins ChildFund’s staff, it’s always an opportunity to get a fresh perspective on our work. Chege Ngugi, our newly minted national director for Mozambique, represents just such an opportunity.
Mozambique National Director Chege Ngugi.
Ngugi started his 17-year career in international development in his native Kenya, with Plan International. “This gave me an opportunity to interact with and learn from staff from different parts of the world,” he says. Soon his work for Plan took him to Tanzania and Uganda, which he says further triggered his interest in other countries.
Since then, Ngugi has also worked in Mozambique and Namibia, and for other international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) such as CARE and, most recently, for the U.S.-based Food for the Hungry, as its country director for Uganda. Along the way, he accumulated wide-ranging experience in management, program design, measurement and evaluation and more.
Ngugi had long known of ChildFund and even had some friends among our staff, but it was while in Uganda that he became more aware of our approach of empowering communities through working with locally based civil society organizations (CSOs — a category that includes INGOs as well as community associations, philanthropic foundations, faith-based organizations and others). “I like the approach, which I consider the best way to ensure sustainability,” he says.
Sustainability is of high value in a country such as Mozambique, where 70 percent of the population lives in poverty, where 1.6 million people live with HIV and AIDS, where nearly half the population is illiterate. Just under two decades since the end of 16 years of war, Mozambique ranks 165 out of 169 on the 2010 Human Development Index. ChildFund began work in Mozambique in 2005.
“During my previous time here, one thing that was clear was the lack of well-baked — that is, capable — CSOs,” says Ngugi. In contrast, he has seen great potential in ChildFund’s high-quality work with two local partners, one in Gondola, in Mozambique’s mid-section, and one in Zavala, to the south. Programs to improve access to clean water and educational opportunities top the priority list there.
“The other positive thing I have noted is the selection of Zavala as the first area of operations,” Ngugi adds. “It is one of the very needy districts in Inhambane province, and to date there are no other INGOs working the area.
“ChildFund has an edge,” he says, “and that is something we need to continue building on.”