NORCAP career story: Sabine Nana Burkinabe
NORCAP expert Sabine in Beira, Mozambique where she helped establish temporary health clinics to ensure peoples access to basic health services after cyclone Idai. Photo: NORCAP/Oda Lykke Mortensen

NORCAP expert Sabine helps people access sexual and reproductive healthcare

“Working as a humanitarian means being ready any time to go anywhere for an urgent job in high risk situations to save lives and protect human rights. NORCAP accompanies their experts on this challenging road by giving support, training and guidance before, during and after the mission.”

Sabine Nana Burkinabe

NORCAP expert on Sexual and Reproductive Health

Sabine has been working in humanitarian and emergency contexts for most of her career. She is a trained midwife from Burkina Faso with master’s degrees in Socio-Anthropology and Public Health. Her work has brought her to countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe.

In 2016, after 11 years of experience as a midwife and emergency obstetrician at the Ministry of Health in Burkina Faso, she joined Doctors Without Borders (MSF). She went on several missions with MSF in Mauritania, Haiti, D.R. Congo and Bangladesh, followed by a stint in Madagascar with Save the Children.

In April 2019, she joined NORCAP for a six-month deployment in Mozambique where she supported UNFPA in providing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Gender-Based Violence response to people affected by cyclone Idai.

“In Mozambique, people couldn't access health services for many reasons. Some health centres were damaged, and there were difficulties getting proper transportation. Other health facilities lacked equipment, had damaged medicine, or the healthcare provider was a victim of the cyclone and had evacuated. Some people were displaced to a new accommodation centre where a health facility had not been setup yet, or they had lost their money and couldn't afford medical treatment.

Since some health facilities were destroyed, we set up sexual and reproductive health tents as clinics and provided medicine and equipment. There weren't enough midwives, so we also recruited, trained and deployed midwives to remote areas. Our actions helped restore complete health services in the community.

This work is meaningful to me because it allows people to understand that even if they are in a difficult situation, we are ready to stay, listen, provide support as needed, and learn from them. I want to support them to be more confident and recover their dignity. Achieving this gives me satisfaction and encourages me to move forward,” Sabine says.

UNFPA with support from NORCAP expert Sabine, has set up tents for sexual and reproductive health programmes.
UNFPA with support from NORCAP expert Sabine, has set up tents for sexual and reproductive health programmes. A session was also held for local women on contraception – including birth control pills and condoms. Photo: NORCAP/Oda Lykke Mortensen

Building professional skills

“I knew of NORCAP and always followed the organisation to understand how I could become a part of this amazing roster doing such great work around the world. I never got the chance until I was selected and trained by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to be part of their roster, which opened the door to NORCAP for me,” Sabine explains.

“During my first deployment to Mozambique, some of my main tasks were training, building staff capacity, strengthening referral pathways, clinical management of rape cases and implementing the Minimum Initial Service Package to patients. I also co-led the Sexual and Reproductive Health sub-cluster and the partnership with the Gender-Based Violence and Health cluster. This required collaboration with donors, and monitoring and evaluating with implementing partners.

Leading a sub-cluster was a new experience for me. I got the opportunity to coordinate and build partnerships with other NGOs and learn from and share experiences with them. This experience will be useful in future settings where my role will be in coordination, possibly to lead a cluster.

Interacting with donors and implementing partners also allowed me to better understand the vision and needs of donors. This has helped me write good proposals for specific donors and to be more accurate and accountable in my work,” Sabine says.

“Having success as a NORCAP expert means making a great impact in the field. NORCAP holds space for communication, learning and networking, which allowed me to have contact and support 24/7. NORCAP is an experienced employer with a staff who works with a lot of professionalism and has amazing advisors that are always ready to listen, respond and support. They care about their expert’s security, working and living conditions in the field.”

NORCAP expert Sabine and colleagues distributing dignity kits in Mozambique.
Sabine distributing dignity kits while deployed with UNFPA at Cura resettlement site in Nhamatanda, Mozambique. Photo: NORCAP/Oda Lykke Mortensen

PS: Any advice for candidates?

When asked if she has any advice for candidates, Sabine was eager to share.

“Browse the NRC/NORCAP website frequently to get updates on their announcements and follow NORCAP on social media to learn more about them and stay visible. Develop knowledge and skills matching NORCAP’s mission vision and policy and be well prepared to be deployed anywhere, anytime,” Sabine says.

“To succeed in this type of work, it is important to be motivated, manage your stress, be a hard worker, have good communication skills, behave to be accepted in the community and respect the rules and principles of the receiving agency. Because I am committed, proactive, result-oriented and a team player, I was a fit for my job,” she adds.