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VSF-Suisse has a face: Meet Dr. Abdoulaye Alassane Diaouré, our Country Director Mali and Representative West Africa

VSF- Suisse, 12.06.2017

In summer 2016, veterinarian Dr. Abdoulaye Diaouré has been appointed Country Director Mali and Representative West Africa for VSF-Suisse. The 56-year-old Malian, who has formerly studied and worked in Ukraine, Cameroon, Niger and Mali, is from now on coordinating and supervising our projects in all of West Africa. Abdoulaye speaks 9 languages and, aside from working, loves to watch his favorite football teams on TV as well as do some sports himself.



Hi Ablo! First of all, welcome to the VSF-Suisse team! We are happy to have you on board!

Thanks! I am happy to have become a member of the team as well. I am looking forward to the tasks that lay before us in supporting the livestock keeping peoples of Mali.

Can you tell us a little bit about Mali and what life is like there?

Well, it is a big country with many different peoples. Many of them are livestock keepers. They keep mostly cattle. In the past, VSF-Suisse has supported the ones in the vicinity of the capital city of Bamako in implementing a milk value chain. The value chain starts with the single cow giving milk, then goes on to hygienically storing the milk, then delivering it to somewhere it can be distributed, then displaying it, then selling it. Until it lands in a hungry person’s stomach.


That sounds like a worthy and much needed initiative. Is this work going to be continued, and what will your role be?

Yes, the milk value chain project, which is known under the acronym PAFLAPUM, will be continued in phase IV from 2017 on. As the new Country Director Mali and Representative West Africa, I will be overseeing the entire project, from development to implementation. A big task I am looking forward to! I am also going to work on a second project in Mali, which is called PASEM.

What is your personal background, and what makes you eager to play a role in NGO projects in Mali?

I am originally from Goa, a region in the Northern part of Mali, but my parents come from Timbuktu. I used to be a child with many different interests, and when I started studying I couldn’t quite figure out which route to take. On the one hand, I was extremely interested in peoples, cultures and languages, so I would have loved to get an education in Social Anthropology. On the other hand, I was always interested in medicine, and I figured taking this route in education would provide a good base to support people in need. And of these I have seen many in my country! However, back then, when I was much younger and less experienced, I couldn’t deal with the pain that poverty inflicts. And by pain I am speaking of both the one inflicted on the body through malnutrition, and the one inflicted on the mind and soul, when people get hopeless. There is so much pain the populations in Mali are feeling. So much need. And I made it my lifetime professional goal to help as much as I can. By becoming a veterinarian after all, I was able to treat the livestock keepers’ animals, which led to people being able to better sustain themselves.
This doesn’t sound like you took the easy route. Where did you get your education?

After finishing high school I went to study Russian in Baku, Kazakhstan, which led to being able to take up my studies of veterinary medicine in Kharkov, Ukraine. Afterwards, I worked for the Farmer’s Cooperative back home in Mali. Then I spent several years working as a private veterinarian, before going back into project work and using my skills in a livestock project led by the Malian government.

So you probably met a lot of different people over the course of the years?

Yes, indeed. And everyone was special in their own way. One of the things I learned was, that we should all be different. The world is good, as long as everyone is different.

We couldn’t have said it any better way! So how did you cope with the language barriers you probably encountered along the way?

Well, I just tried to adapt as much as possible. Which frankly wasn’t very hard for me, as I was interested in cultures and languages anyway. From my point of view, the main way of entering a culture is, on the one hand learning the local language as quickly as possible, and on the other hand living in the local context. So I ended up speaking quite a few different languages, among which are French, English, which I learned already at school, Russian, Bambara, Fulani, a language spoken in many West African countries, Tamasheq, a local language spoken by the Tuareg people in Mali and Niger, and the language of Songhoy, which is sometimes called Sarma or Dandi as well, and spoken by the so-called “people on the river”, a quite small ethnic group.


This is impressive. And it sounds like you have moved around Africa quite a bit as well, supposedly during your professional life? Is that right?
Yes, exactly. I started working for the Dutch Development Organisation SNV in 2000, and over the course of my career there, I moved to Cameroon a little later. I started as a technical and livestock expert, then worked as an organizational advisor and economic development advisor, before focusing on Natural Resource Management and Portfolio Management. Eventually, I became Regional Team Leader, and consequently National Team Leader. Finally, in 2010 I went to work for Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium in Niger. There, I was leading the implementation of project PASEL as a National Coordinator. The objective of this project was to transfer knowledge to local people, and we achieved this well.
Would you tell us a little bit about how you spend your spare time, so we get a hint of the private Dr. Ablo Diaouré?
As you already learned, I am interested in many things. Cultural activities, exploring nature, playing football, jogging, and I recently discovered handball as a leisure activity. However, the thing I probably like to do best, is watching football! I love to watch my favorite teams play; and there are many of them, mostly European teams. Pedestrian as it may sound, I really, really love Football.


Just having moved back home to Mali, how do you like to be back? Do you appreciate it?
Oh yes, completely. I have wished to go back to my home country for quite a while now. Firstly, because I would like for my four children to be integrated there socially, and secondly because I would really like to support my people in my country. I love my country. I love Mali.
So we got the right team member there, haven’t we? What made you wish to work with us, VSF-Suisse, then?
I am a hands-on person, and I like to see results. VSF-Suisse works just the same. There isn’t precious time spent talking around things, when there can be things gotten done. We all have so little time on earth, we shouldn’t invest too much of it in bureaucracy. With these values, I feel very much at home among the VSF-Suisse team.
And just like myself, the people I have met at VSF-Suisse are striving for excellence in what they do. Which will eventually lead to excellent results for the ones in need.
There is not much we can add to that. So to wrap up this very nice and friendly interview with you, Ablo, we would like to wish you all the best in both your private and your professional future! We are looking forward to working with you, and we are glad to have you on board.
 (Interview: Kerstin Köffel)




Tags: Mali  West Africa 

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