This week we are saying goodbye to Esther Bouma, who has been responsible for coordinating the 26 different development agencies that work with the Ministry of Health here in Mozambique.
Esther, pictured here at her desk in the architecturally stunning Dutch Embassy in Maputo, will be moving to a job in South Africa at the end of August and will be much missed here in Mozambique.
(I've inserted a picture of the Dutch Embassy, which might not look much from the outside, but the external wall is a huge wooden fence which opens on to a cobbled courtyard with trees. Stepping inside is like being transported to Holland!)
Esther has been in Mozambique for over 6 years, with the last 3 of those being spent working as coordinator for the health sector, first with the European Commission and for the last year and a half with DFID. Although the job has been one which works on behalf of all the development partners, as DFID's objectives are closely aligned to those of other partners, Esther has also made a high contribution to delivering UK aid.
We had a ‘despedida' for Esther last week, which gave a chance for colleagues from the Ministry of Health, United Nations Agencies, civil society organisations and from donor agencies to thank Esther and to say goodbye.
Esther can be seen here with Dr Benzerroug, the WHO country director and in a group photograph, with Roberto Paul (MONASO), Kate Brownlow (Malaria Consortium), Alain Kassa (MSF) and with Dr. Benzerroug and Jennifer Rubin (US Government) in the background.
At this point you might be asking what does a 'coordinator' do? Well, Esther, who, it has to be said, is a coordinator extraordinaire, has brought a whole raft of skills to her job over the last 3 years: she has networked between the various organisations developing an understanding of what each agency does and its priorities. she has developed a detailed understanding of the ways agencies work, and of the commitments that we have all made to increasingly harmonise and align our support behind priorities that are set by the Government of Mozambique; she has also engaged at a technical level, supporting the development of a monitoring and evaluation framework in order to allow us to monitor the performance of the health sector in improving the health of the population of Mozambique.
Has all this coordination made a difference? Well some good news to counter our disappointment at Esther leaving has emerged from a survey of some key development indicators in Mozambique. The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, (MICS) coordinated by UNICEF, has released preliminary results which show that child health continues to improve in Mozambique, and that the gap between rural areas and urban areas is getting narrower. Coordinated donor assistance is helping finance government led plans to achieve these improvements.
Click on the slides (right) for a taster of the information - but I will have to post more on the MICS Survey in a future blog.
For now, it just remains to say goodbye to Esther, to thank her for her work, and to congratulate her on her great working style, warm personality, efficiency and organisation. THANK YOU Esther!