Ghana-Angola peer mentoring builds capacity of local staff

From left: Environmental compliance offices Deolindo Dungula of AIRS Angola and Williams Abilla of AIRS Ghana during a site visit to prepare staff of spray operations in Angola.

From left: Environmental compliance offices Deolindo Dungula of AIRS Angola and Williams Abilla of AIRS Ghana during a site visit to prepare staff of spray operations in Angola.

When tasked with implementing sustainable indoor residual spraying (IRS) operations in Angola, a country severely damaged by 27 years of civil war, Chief of Party Lourdes Loch sought to hire highly skilled, local staff. After eight months of fruitlessly searching for an environmental compliance officer, it was time for a new strategy.

“We wanted to limit the amount of short-term technical assistance from the United States and instead build the skills of local people. However, finding people with certain technical skills was extremely challenging,” said Ms. Loch.

In response to these limitations, AIRS hired a local environmental compliance officer who had limited technical experience but demonstrated good work ethic, solid professional work experience, and the capacity to learn through intensive on-the-job training. After interviewing several candidates, the team selected Mr. Deolindo Manuel Dungula for the job.

Before joining the Angola AIRS team, Mr. Dungula was working as a technical manager in a factory. “I applied to work with AIRS because I thought it is a new opportunity to be involved in environmental issues,” said Mr. Dungula.

To prepare Mr. Dungula and the AIRS Angola team for their 2012 spray campaign, AIRS leveraged their regional capacity. AIRS called on Williams Abilla, a seasoned environmental compliance officer working for AIRS Ghana, to travel to Angola and train Mr. Dungula. Mr. Abilla has extensive experience in IRS including advocacy, social mobilization, and monitoring and evaluation activities—all of which are crucial for a successful IRS campaign.

Mr. Abilla trained Mr. Dungula on theoretical and practical aspects of environmental compliance based on PMI’s Best Management Practices in Indoor Residual Spraying. Mr. Abilla visited the three IRS operational sites with Mr. Dungula and carried out an environmental assessment, which identified needed improvements in environmental compliance. While inspecting the IRS sites, Mr. Abilla and Mr. Dungula met with leaders from provincial directorates of health and the Ministry of Environment, who pledged their support for IRS.

“As result of the environmental assessment, we have rehabilitated the warehouses and operational sites to meet environmental compliance standards and are prepared for the IRS campaign.  This assistance from Ghana also built the capacity of our own environmental compliance officer,” said Ms. Loch.

By taking advantage of having skilled colleagues across Africa, the AIRS Angola team was able to maintain their commitment to building the capacity of local staff as opposed to relying on external assistance.

“It was so helpful because I gained more knowledge and became motivated. Each day on the job brings a new lesson,” said Mr. Dungula.

“I felt so humbled and delighted for the opportunity I had to extend my technical expertise to the AIRS Angola team. Being able to share knowledge and resources from AIRS Ghana makes me proud that we all belong to one team,” said Mr. Abilia.

The 2012 IRS campaign in Angola began in October with Mr. Dungula leading environmental compliance activities. Check the AIRS Angola page for campaign targets and results.

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