REPORT. Bioforce has brought training centres closer to crisis areas by making trained, operational professionals available to international or local NGOs to improve humanitarian interventions in a sustainable way, and has started to implement this strategy in West Africa. The Bioforce regional training centre for Africa (BRTCA) is two years old today, and a first assessment is now possible.
There are numerous crises linked to conflicts or climate change in the West and Central African regions. For the humanitarian organisations on the field, recruiting skilled professionals who are able to meet the needs of local populations is a daily challenge and has an impact on its ability to intervene. By opening in 2017 a regional training centre in Dakar, a hotspot for NGOs in the area, we have taken on this challenge. Thanks to the support of the European Union, the Principality of Monaco, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region, the city of Lyon and the Mérieux Foundation, the training centre was operational in barely four months and our first students were taking courses to become logistics managers or project coordinators.
Today, two years after its opening, we have trained 1 739 Africans. Coming from all the countries in the region (mainly Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali), 328 students came to seek a certified training, a Bioforce label recognized by the humanitarian sector, which allowed them to find a useful job within an international or national organisation. The 1 411 others, whether by their own request or their employer’s, came to us searching for the possibility to develop their skills and be able to evolve professionally within these organisations. Employers are satisfied as well, according to the regional office of Humanity and Inclusion: “Bioforce’s presence in Senegal confirms there is a real need for accessible training, better adapted to the humanitarian context.”
Elhadji Malick Diagne, the administrative coordinator for Secours Islamique France, also feels positive about this implantation “in terms of accessing trainings in capacity building for NGO staff. I am particularly satisfied with the centre’s proximity because many international NGOs happen to have their headquarters in Senegal. We currently have a Bioforce student in Logistics in our Senegal mission”. Yann Grandin, an expert in child protection at the regional UNICEF office, feels the same way: “we can tell there are more and more actors, in the region, who were trained in child protection [one of our certified training courses in Africa – ed], we feel the impact of this training. After two years, I can say it has led to the reinforcement of child protection in French-speaking African countries, and to new synergies between countries, but also between NGOs, local actors, and governments.” An obstacle often remains: financial access to those trainings. UNICEF offers about ten scholarships each year. Bioforce, for its part, actively looks for partners to sponsor future humanitarians, as it was the case for Kanga Antoinette: “in 2011, I was in Abidjan during the political crisis. It was not easy, we had to flee through the bush to escape the militias. It only motivated even more to help others in similar situations. Without my scholarship, I would not have been able to afford both the training and living expenses.”
Today, African Bioforce graduates are saving lives in regions like the Sahel, the Central African Republic (CAR), or Nigeria, says Gilles Collard, director of Bioforce: “I was recently in Bangui, where I met many Bioforce graduates working with Action against Hunger, Humanity and Inclusion, or Doctors without Borders. They all told me how important their Bioforce training was for them, making them immediately operational in such a difficult context like it’s the case in CAR. However, they also shared their fear of not being able to recruit enough staff to help populations. Without enough trained men and women, there is no possible assistance, which endangers vulnerable populations greatly. That is the whole meaning behind Bioforce’s presence in Africa and we hope it will be the case in other crises-ridden regions in the future.”