We interviewed Dr Nines Lima, visiting professor of the Sustainability Week (previously called the International Week) course Managing Humanitarian Emergencies. Dr Lima was the Tropical Diseases Advisor for Médicos Sin Fronteras (Doctors Without Borders) until co-founding La Cooperativa Humanitaria. She is a medical doctor and family physician specialised doctor with 15 years of experience in humanitarian aid in more than twelve countries, managing emergencies related to conflict, major epidemics and nutritional crisis. Dr Nines teaches at institutions including EADA, Deusto University and the University of Barcelona.
Dr Lima’s course focuses on the management skills and competencies needed in humanitarian emergencies including prioritising, optimising resources and the ability to work with multidisciplinary teams.
What role does team work play in managing humanitarian crises?
In crisis situations, we need to have multidisciplinary teams to assess and coordinate the various aspects of the crisis. The teams need to have enough expertise to be agile and flexible enough to take fast decisions.
In the International Week course, participants define the objectives of the intervention by prioritising activities at different levels to optimise human and financial resources. A key learning objective is understanding the importance of monitoring and evaluating these activities through key indicators that show the impact of the interventions.
Why do EADA participants build a refugee camp during the course? What skills do they gain from this experience?
The building of the refugee camp is a very practical –and visual– exercise that links all of the case studies seen in the theoretical and group work part of the course. They work as a team to delegate tasks, which allows us to analyse team dynamics, leadership skills and analytical thinking skills. The idea is that they understand the situation of the people suffering from a humanitarian crisis, and that by managing and coordinating different interventions properly, they can save lives and contribute to the recovery efforts.
To what extent does your field experience contribute to your understanding of humanitarian aid?
For me, it was essential to work in the field in different geographical areas with diverse profiles. I started as a field doctor in Somalia and ended up in my last mission as Head of Mission in a Humanitarian Nutritional Crisis in Niger, managing the projects and teams as emergency coordinator. When I switched to support missions from the headquarters, I kept my feet in the projects, constantly visiting the front-line field workers to better understand their challenges, barriers and team dynamics.