Shayna Halliwell, a Human Rights M.A. graduate, is currently based in Dakar working as a Partnerships Specialist for The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for francophone and lusophone West Africa and North Africa (17 countries in total).
UNOPS was originally a part of UNDP but has been a separate agency for the past 25 years. UNOPS helps the UN and its partners provide peace and security, humanitarian and development solutions and mainly specializes in infrastructure, procurement and complex project management. In the countries in which Shayna works, this takes place mainly in fragile or conflict-affected settings. Her job is to be responsible for every new project; from the initial conversation with the government in question and/or financing body (World Bank, various government development agencies, etc.) through to development of the budget and project structure and legal agreement all the way to its signature, at which point it gets handed off to the implementation team.
All countries in this region (represented by their Ministries of Health) need emergency procurement of all relevant medical equipment and sometimes infrastructure (mobile labs, prefabricated hospitals, etc.) in response to COVID-19. This has been the focus of her work over the past few months while in lockdown in Dakar, under a state of emergency.
However, many governments and funding agencies are also looking to the long-term resilience of their country’s health and economic systems post-COVID, and therefore there is ongoing development of new projects in that area. "It’s an exciting job and I work with an excellent, driven and talented team across many countries facing complex security situations based on a number of coexisting factors" says Shayna of her role.