Blog of Wyn Davies, Operations Director, CLP
At 16 I was unsure what to do as a career, was it to go to sea and spend a life on the ocean waves, or was it on the land in farming working with livestock and crops. As I was raised next to the sea and spent a large part of my youth on farms learning ‘the trade’, both appealed as potential careers. At 17 I was fortunate to attend a weekend course at the Schumacher Centre for people considering a career working overseas in the development / humanitarian aid sector, and that was it – my decision was made. I would specialise in overseas agriculture and rural development aid work.
After obtaining a BSc in Agriculture with Agricultural Economics I had planned to start working overseas after graduating. But life and the best laid out plans are never as simple as a, b, c…, and during my third year at University I met a first year student whom I married, so leaving the UK to work overseas was put on hold. This change of plan turned out for the best, as I secured a job with the professional arm of the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF) of the UK Government called ADAS.
Over the next eleven years I worked as an agriculture and rural development consultant in the UK for ADAS, and the training received, scope and nature of work undertaken has since proved invaluable to me in my overseas development work. However, the yearning to work overseas in development would not go away while I was at ADAS, as it was what I longed to do.
Fortunately, ADAS had an International Division, and in 1997 I started working overseas in Czech and Slovak Republics on private sector inward investment opportunities. This was followed by a long-term position in Russia on a DFID Project developing Farm Information and Consultancy Service. In 2001 I left ADAS and committed to working full-time in International development for various consultancy, NGO and donor organisations.
Since 2001 I have been privileged to work in Iraq, Georgia, Egypt, Turkey, Belarus, Ukraine, Tajikistan and now Bangladesh. The work and responsibilities have been diverse, fascinating and always challenging. I have held five long-term Team Leader positions, and various short-term consultancy assignments, and all have been focused on alleviating poverty.
I first came to Bangladesh in early 2008 as Team Leader for an EU project providing support to 80,000 ultra-poor female-headed households. This prepared me well for my current role as CLPs Operations Director which I have held since February 2013. Unlike most development interventions which are narrowly focused on for example income generation or health development, the CLP is rare in that it has evolved over time since its inception in 2004 to encompass interventions covering all (or at least the majority) of the multidimensional aspects that cause poverty. As such, the achievement and strength of CLP in lifting 85% of its target group out of extreme poverty (source: CLP IMLC Graduation Data – Cohorts 2.1 to 2.4) can be attributed to this multi intervention approach.
My work as CLP Operations Director is not only about ensuring that activities are implemented efficiently and at best value so that outputs are achieved, which the CLPs talented team of staff and partner implementing organisations (NGOs) are very efficient at accomplishing. Rather, it is about learning from what it does through effective field operations and M&E systems, and continually asking from day to day “how can we do the job better”? In this way what we do within CLP to alleviate poverty is not only implemented efficiently and at best value, but is more effective with lasting outcomes and impact for those affected.
Our most recent and innovative interventions in nutrition work (first 1,000 days) and in market development (M4P) are prime examples of how CLP aims to do better and to be more effective. CLP strives to be an example of ‘best development practice’. It is a programme that learns from what it does, shares the learning with others, and then works towards improving efficacy. In a time of increased cynicism and disillusionment about what aid work can achieve, the CLP evidence based learning demonstrates what a well-designed and managed programme can achieve, how extreme poverty can be alleviated, enabling people to lead dignified productive lives.
During my career I have been extremely fortunate to live and work within so many countries, to have experienced different cultures, and to have shared the friendship of so many people. What I have learned is that people, regardless of where we live have the same aspirations and needs. I have been privileged to have played a part in the Chars Livelihoods Programme and witnessed the dramatic difference it has made to improve the lives of the extreme poor of rural Bangladesh.
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