Chiran Livera

How did you come to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement?

I was involved with the Red Cross from a young age as a youth volunteer promoting humanitarian law and active global citizenship. I worked to support other young people in leadership roles and encouraged their participation in global issues. I also began to volunteer in disaster management programmes and eventually became a trainer. After finishing my university studies, I worked as a facilitator and in a secondary school supporting teachers before I became an employee with the Canadian Red Cross. At the Canadian Red Cross, I worked in the international department in the emergencies team and eventually started going on missions and then joined IFRC. My professional experience is in disaster response and training/facilitation.

What are your current roles and responsibilities?

My current role is to support National Societies in West Africa to respond to disasters. When a National Society’s capacity becomes overwhelmed, I provide technical support to bring in additional resources into the National Society for them to continue responding to the needs. If I am in the field, a typical day involves supporting with emergency assessments and analysis of the data and developing operational frameworks. When not in the field, I am based in Senegal in the IFRC regional office and monitor progress of emergencies and support with finance and reporting functions.

What attracted you to the IFRC and your position? What is your favourite thing about your job?

I’ve always had a personal connection and commitment to the Fundamental Principles of the Movement and working in disaster response was a clear way for me to translate my commitment into action. I became attracted to IFRC because I believe in a well-coordinated multilateral system in times of disaster and this is a principle role of IFRC. My favourite aspect about my work is the uncertainty of how each disaster will evolve, which always makes the work interesting as we try to anticipate and react to each change. Our systems are built well to deal with most situations and when they are not, we are continuously improving them to be better prepared and respond more efficiently.

What has been your most memorable moment (so far) in your job?

One of the most memorable moments I’ve had was responding to a disaster and designing an operation with one particular National Society which very much liked to learn how to adapt their systems to respond to recurring disasters but had little experience. This particular flood that happened was quite destructive and the National Society was under pressure from the public to deliver effective services quickly. Within a short time frame, I was able to work with staff and volunteers to set up a local resource mobilization campaign and ensure received support from the public was immediately dispatched to the affected area. The National Society did a fantastic job in executing the system and they improved their reputation in a very short period of time. This was particularly memorable as this was my clearest example how a disaster could turn into an opportunity for a National Society to improve its work and be proud of itself.

What advice would you give to an aspiring aid worker?

 I would advise aspiring aid workers to keep gaining experience and skills in humanitarian work. This can be done through voluntary means or paid employment in entry level positions. Experience and skills are very important as aid work involves problem solving, thinking critically and being creative, and previous experiences and skills one has gained helps in this aspect. In terms of specific skills, all of our work involves designing and managing projects so project management knowledge and education is very important. These are transversal skills that aid workers need to have so it is important to develop these.



Operations Manager, IFRC Sahel Regional Representation

Educational background: Associate of Arts in Sociology; Bachelor of Arts in Political Science; and a graduate certificate in leadership, all from Simon Fraser University in Canada.