|Focus||Emergency relief and recovery|
Medair is an international non-governmental organization NGO of humanitarian aid with a stated mission, "to relieve suffering in some of the world’s most remote and devastated places." Medair provides emergency relief and recovery services including Health and Nutrition; Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene; and Shelter and Infrastructure. Medair lists its values as: hope, compassion, dignity, accountability, integrity, and faith.
Medair’s statutes were registered in 1989 with the Registre du Commerce of the state of Vaud, Switzerland. Its international and operational headquarters are in Switzerland. Medair has been active in 31 countries, working in some of the most remote, hard-to-reach places in the world. It is independent of any political, economic, or social authority. As a signatory of the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief, the organization provides aid to the most vulnerable, irrespective of race, gender, religion, age, or nationality.
As of 2016, Medair employs 908 nationally recruited staff and 174 internationally recruited staff in the field, many with years of humanitarian experience. At its international headquarters in Ecublens Medair employs 134 staff. Medair’s annual operating income in 2016 was USD 61.93 million. Its programs served 1,881,285 direct beneficiaries in 2016.
The organization is responding to the consequences of earthquakes in Nepal, to the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon and Jordan and providing relief and recovery services in South Sudan, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Madagascar, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia. Recent programs have been run in Albania, Angola, Armenia, Bangladesh, Chad, Chechnya, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Ingushetia, Iraq, Iran, Kenya, Kosovo, Liberia, Mozambique, Ossetia, Philippines, Rwanda, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Pakistan, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
- 1 History
- 2 Organizational structure
- 3 Funding
- 4 Activities
- 5 Other notable projects
- 6 Affiliations, accreditations, partnerships
- 7 References
- 8 External links
In 1988, a small group of eight volunteers, led by Drs. Erik Volkmar and Josianne Volkmar-André, traveled to conflict-affected Soroti, Uganda, with the support of three partner organizations: Medicaments pour L’Afrique (MEDAF), Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), and Youth with a Mission (YWAM). Their objective was to form an organization that could respond more quickly to crises than their own organizations could. This first project provided support for displaced people as they resettled into towns that lacked essential services.
The first years: 1989–2003
Upon their return to Switzerland in 1989, Medair was registered as a not-for-profit organization. In 1990, members of this original group conducted an assessment for a second project in Akobo, Sudan. From 1991 to 1992, Medair’s Sudan program established medical care, safe water supply, food, and agricultural assistance for internally displaced persons.
By 1991, Medair was running 3 programs at the same time in Sudan, Liberia, and Iraq. Over the next decade, Medair’s operational capacity expanded until, by 2003, Medair began running as many as 9 country programs at one time in countries like D.R. Congo, Armenia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, and Somalia.
Throughout 1994 and 1995, Medair underwent major restructuring and became independent of its three founding organizations. Medair continues to partner with MAF to this day, since many of Medair’s activities require traveling to hard-to-reach places. The independent Medair formed with an International Board of Trustees and an Executive Committee to assist the CEO. In 2003, Erik Volkmar, who had been with the organization since its inception, stepped down after 15 years as CEO.
New leader: 2004–2010
In 2004, Randall Zindler, a graduate of Lancaster University’s MBA program, became CEO. Zindler had held a number of corporate positions with companies like Credit Suisse and Swissair before becoming CEO of Medair.
In his first year as CEO, Zindler mobilized Medair’s response to the Asian tsunami. In 2010, Randall Zindler began a transitional plan for his departure from Medair, leaving officially in January 2011.
Current leadership: 2011–2018
In 2011, Jim Ingram was appointed as CEO of Medair. Jim began working for Medair as its Finance Director and as a member of the Executive Leadership Team, Jim was involved in all major decisions about Medair’s mission and implementation. Since becoming CEO, Jim has overseen the closure of programs in Sudan, Haiti, Chad, and Zimbabwe, and the start of new programs in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria (Syrian crisis), Iraq, Sierra Leone, the Philippines, Chad, Myanmar, Haiti, and Bangladesh
Current leadership: 2018 - present
Medair's International Board of Trustees appointed David Verboom as the new CEO of Medair, who started in April 2018.
In 1996, David started his career in the humanitarian and development sector where he worked for NGOs and donors. His first job, as Medair's Country Director for Kenya and South Sudan, was during the 1998 drought and famine. He then took up the Operational Director’s function at Medair headquarters in Switzerland from where he started up and managed the organisation’s emergency relief and recovery programmes in Africa and Asia. In 2002 David returned to the field as Country Director, leading ZOA Refugee Care’s programme in Sri Lanka, This was followed by the Asian tsunami disaster response, after which he joined European Union’s humanitarian department (ECHO) as Head of Office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives. This was followed by taking up the function of ECHO Head of Regional Office for East Asia and the Pacific. In 2013, he was asked to take on the job of ECHO Head of Regional Office for the Middle East. In 2015, David returned to an implementing agency as National Director with World Vision Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza. In this capacity he led humanitarian and development programmes focusing on health, education, resilience, and protection on behalf of affected children.
Medair’s international Board of Trustees governs the Medair organization. Medair’s Board is appointed or elected by members of the Medair Association. The CEO is responsible for the management of Medair, supported by an executive leadership team.
Medair’s operational headquarters is located in Ecublens, Switzerland. Medair has 6 affiliate offices in Germany, the USA, France, the UK, the Netherlands and Canada. Each affiliate office has its own Board of Trustees. Medair’s affiliate offices provide communication, fundraising, and recruitment support for Medair; they do not carry out or coordinate relief programs themselves. Medair headquarters establishes bases of operation in the countries where it provides relief work.
According to its website, Medair recruits experienced and new relief workers with expertise in project management, health services, nutrition, water, human resources, logistics, communications and construction. Employees are both internationally recruited staff (IRS) and nationally recruited staff (NRS). Medair employs IRS who are committed Christians and experienced professionals.
Prospective Medair staff participate in a Relief and Rehabilitation Orientation Course (ROC). This intensive course takes place three times a year and aims to evaluate and train participants before they go to the field.
Funding for Medair programs come from a combination of sources. In 2016 65.2% of operating income comes from governmental support such as ECHO, USAID, the SDC, and United Nations funding, such as UNICEF. Corporate, foundation and other private donations constitute 18.4% of the operating income, followed by other institutions and NGOs contributing 10.8% to total operating income. Gifts-in-kind and other income provide respectively 5.1% and 0.5% of operating income.
Medair responds to crises with emergency relief and recovery programs that focus on sectors such as health, shelter and infrastructure, water, sanitation, and hygiene promotion (WASH), nutrition and food and livelihoods. In 2016 health sector represented 33% of total beneficiary expense. Shelter and infrastructure sector represented 28% of expense, followed by WASH (20%), nutrition (8%) and food and livelihoods (8%).
Medair’s stated goal with emergency relief is to act swiftly to reach communities in crisis. For example, after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, staff were operational in the district of Ampara, the hardest hit area of Sri Lanka, within five days. After a rapid needs assessment, Medair established that the priorities were water, sanitation, food, and shelter. Working with Bushproof, a company specializing in water technologies for difficult environments, Medair secured emergency drinking water supplies for people living in displacement camps.
Over the next year, Medair’s Sri Lanka projects included shelter construction, restoring the livelihoods of the fishing community through the distribution of boats and nets, and improving public health through latrine construction, well cleaning, and hygiene education.
In Haiti, after the Hurricane Matthew made landfall on October 4, 2016, Medair's emergency response team landed in Port-au-Prince in 72 hours of the hurricane. Medair has assembled emergency shelter and hygiene kits, although the access to the affected coastal communities of Tiburon Peninsula was very difficult. The main road leading to the nearest city of Les Cayes had been badly damaged. As first response, Medair teams traveled by sea to distribute 300 hygiene kits to help prevent cholera. In total, Medair distributed emergency medical kits with medicine for 20,000 people, distributed shelter kits to more than 14,000 people, and gave 16,000 people access to safe drinking water.
Medair works in devastated communities to help families recover from crisis with dignity. These operations often focus on improving the capacity of the community to meet its own needs and prevent further crises, with Medair providing training, strategic supervision, planning, organizing, and financial support.
Medair’s health programs in South Sudan have been noted for their role in building local capacity. Working with local institutions and traditional authorities, Medair invests in the education and training of community health workers and traditional birth attendants. Providing supports and resources to the State Ministry of Health has enabled primary health care services to be brought to communities that formerly lacked even the most basic health care. Numerous clinics and health centres are now staffed with knowledgeable health care providers responding to disease outbreaks, nutritional emergencies, obstetric needs, and routine out-patient care. South Sudanese doctors have participated directly in WASH programs.
Health and nutrition
Medair’s health and nutrition sector focuses on responding to the greatest unmet medical needs, from the establishment or support of health clinics to nutrition programs and vaccination campaigns. For example, in the Ragh district of Badakhshan province in northeast Afghanistan, a 1999–2002 study published in Lancet concluded that the region had the highest rates of maternal mortality ever recorded (6,507 per 100,000).
In 2003, Medair helped develop the first emergency obstetric care facility in the area. At that time, there were hardly any health clinics there, but by 2009, Medair had supported the establishment of 7 health facilities and 55 health posts. Medair also ran a safe motherhood program that focused on community midwifery training.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)
Medair’s WASH programs focus on improving access to safe drinking water, latrine construction, and hand-washing and hygiene promotion. For example, after Cyclone Gafilo struck Madagascar in 2004, Medair conducted a rapid assessment and implemented an emergency WASH project to clean and disinfect 1,400 existing wells in a little over a week. The initially skeptical local residents quickly became impressed by Medair’s work, and started calling the Medair team, NGO “No Bla-bla.” These projects included significant beneficiary participation, with local residents assisting in all aspects. Medair also trained local residents in well and latrine construction and maintenance.
Shelter and infrastructure
Medair lists its shelter and infrastructure projects as: the provision of safe, permanent and semi-permanent shelters, training on construction techniques, and building clinics, roads, and bridges. In 2010, after the Haiti earthquake, Medair provided transitional shelters to people without housing in Jacmel and the surrounding area. The transitional shelters are designed to be built into permanent homes in the future. On Friday, November 5, Emma Le Beau of Medair spoke on CTV News about the preparations for Hurricane Tomas (2010). She explained that these transitional shelters had housed 8,500 people so far. In January 2011, Medair reported that 11,622 people had now been housed.
Other notable projects
After the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Medair provided emergency relief to the region of Bugesera, which had lost 80% of its population to the genocide. Medair worked to get medical centers running again and provided reconciliation seminars. Medair brought in psychiatrists to provide trauma counseling for both Hutus and Tutsis. Workshops brought together mixed ethnic groups to share their stories.
After a massive earthquake in Pakistan in 2005, Medair teams focused on distributing shelter kits, as winter was approaching. Once families had completed the construction of their semi-permanent homes, they received a wood stove, mattresses, blankets, and hygienic supplies. Medair’s rehabilitation program included livestock and seed distribution, and reconstruction work in a remote mountainous region.
Medair spent over a decade in Uganda, from 1999 to 2010, making it one of Medair’s longest running programs. During this time, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) terrorized the majority of northern Uganda. Medair worked with some of the most isolated populations living in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the height of the crisis. Later, Medair helped these people resettle into their villages of origin.
In February 2010, Medair made headlines for a study conducted with partner NGO, Save the Children, which revealed high rates of malnutrition in Akobo, South Sudan. With a Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) level of 45.7% and a severe acute malnutrition (SAM) level of 15.5%, Akobo’s rates were three times higher than emergency malnutrition thresholds. Both organizations responded quickly with a therapeutic feeding program.
In 2012, a serious security incident occurred when Medair staff were abducted in Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province. Thanks to the actions of international security forces, and a well-rehearsed internal crisis plan, all of the staff were safely freed. After the incident, Medair closed operations in Badakhshan while continuing to work in Afghanistan’s Central Highlands. Medair left a long-term impact in Badakhshan, working there from 2000-2012: improved access to water and sanitation, expanded and upgraded provincial health care system, and life-saving health and nutrition services in very remote communities.
In 2012, Medair sent emergency teams to Lebanon and Jordan to respond to the flood of refugees arriving from Syria. Shelter was an urgent priority in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley where winter brings snow and freezing weather. Medair distributed emergency shelter kits and provided families with wood-burning stoves, blankets, and mattresses.
In 2013, Medair's emergency response team provided relief to isolated communities in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,000 people and displaced more than four million people. In its first year, Medair reached more than 60,000 people with shelters, health and hygiene support.
Affiliations, accreditations, partnerships
In 2001, Medair became the first European NGO to obtain ISO 9001:2000 worldwide certification. ISO is a family of international quality management standards and guidelines, normally applied to industry. Medair explains that ISO certification represents Medair’s aim to be accountable to beneficiaries for the quality of goods and services provided in the same way industry is accountable to consumers.
Beneficiary accountability is an important tenet to Medair’s operations. Medair was the first member of the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership International (HAP-I). Other members include CARE International, Oxfam, World Vision, and Save the Children.
In 2006, the Humanitarian Exchange Magazine published an assessment of beneficiary accountability in humanitarian aid. In the report, many relief organizations are examined for their approaches to implementing beneficiary accountability. Medair’s work in Darfur was highlighted for its use of surveys, interviews, and polls to obtain beneficiary input and feedback. “Beneficiaries appreciated being asked their opinions, and Medair observed that this contributed to restoring their dignity,” states the report, which was commissioned by the Humanitarian Practice Network and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI).
Medair is also a member of the global Integral Alliance, a network that is committed to increasing the capacity and quality of a united disaster response among partnering humanitarian organisations.
Medair is also a member of EU-CORD, a network of European Christian humanitarian organizations that work cooperatively. Medair’s office in Switzerland has also received the ZEWO seal of approval. ZEWO is a Swiss label that identifies non-profit organizations which spend funds responsibly.
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