Abdoulaye Gonde is a veterinarian in our Economic Security team, currently based in Niger.


Thanks for making time to chat with us, could you kindly tell us about yourself and your work at ICRC.

I am Abdoulaye Gonde, a veterinarian specialised in international and tropical agriculture - animal health and production. Currently, I am working as a veterinary delegate at ICRC. I have recently completed a two-year mission in Cameroon. Now I am based in Niger, where I am in charge of the livestock health and production program. In this capacity, I am actively involved in animal disease control and livestock development programmes across the country.

Tell us about your career path and how you ended up at the ICRC.

After specialization in Germany, I worked as a lecturer at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada and consulted for Health Canada on zoonotic diseases. Later, I worked as an advisor on animal health and veterinary curriculum development for the World University Service of Canada in Malawi and Ghana and the Canadian Center for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI) in Nepal. Following these, I joined UN-FAO as the Regional Livestock Value Chain Expert for West and Central Africa. It was after working at FAO that I joined the ICRC as a Veterinary Delegate.

Working as a veterinarian, what attracted you to the ICRC?

Several elements attracted me to the ICRC. The first was the alignment of my values to ICRC's mission – to relieve human pain and contribute to sustainable economic development. I am an altruist by nature, so this mission naturally drew me in. Secondly, I find the work very concrete, visible and observable – one works and sees the results of their efforts. Thirdly, there are a lot of opportunities for career growth within the ICRC. There are multiple opportunities for training and flexibility in career paths. Lastly, the possibility to have a great balance between my professional work and private life attracted me; there are fantastic social advantages of working at the ICRC!

How was your first field assignment with the ICRC? 

My first field assignment was my onboarding mission in Bangui, Central African Republic. Working closely with my veterinary colleague (supervisor), I had the privilege of a practical introduction to ICRC’s veterinary work. At that point, we were working on a programme focused on disease control in cattle. We worked collaboratively with pastoralists affected by armed violence, going into the remote areas that have no access to veterinary services to run vaccination campaigns. The programme involved a lot of systematic planning. On one hand, we had to organize for the cold chain to get the vaccines to the field safely while holding conversations with pastoralists and government counterparts to identify ideal locations to conduct the vaccination and how to build the vaccination parks. Very exciting equilibrist and technical work!

What does a typical day in your role look like?

Let’s split this into two. First, there is office work. Internally, I work with the field officers to plan field activities and order necessary equipment including medication and vaccines in collaboration with the logistics team. Externally, I exchange with government counterparts, pastoralist organisations and our sister organisations to agree on what needs to be done and how it will be done while respecting the "do not harm" principle. Secondly, there is the fieldwork. This involves supervising the work ensuring the highest standards of professionalism and that the cold chain is working perfectly.

What aspects of your work do you find most fulfilling?

That I work directly with the ICRC beneficiaries – people in communities that have been affected by violence and armed conflict. People who have lost hope. Managing to bring them a solution and bring them back to "life" is very rewarding. As I said earlier, that one works and can see the results; they are observable.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The challenging part of it is when beneficiaries call for assistance and we are not able to reach them for any reason for example due to security-related issues. This can be psychologically stressful.

Do you mind sharing about lessons that you have learnt from your  work/experiences/encounters at the ICRC?

ICRC is a multicultural workplace both in the office and in the field. Having worked in many countries across four continents, I thought that I had seen a lot both from a professional and a cultural perspective. However, if there is anything my work at ICRC has taught me, it is how to appreciate life and enjoy it! When working with our beneficiaries, I am constantly amazed by the effort they put to make people like me comfortable, feel good, even smile. I have always found this unique! So, yes, I learned how to appreciate life and better understand it. It has changed my view of the world.

How does working at the ICRC differ from other places where you worked before? 

ICRC has given me the means to do my work – everything I needed for the work including the continuous development of my skills and capacity. It has given me the chance to work in a diverse environment. Furthermore, it cares about my welfare and particularly about my safety and thus provides all I need for my protection including safe offices, residence, vehicles, information on the security situation during field trips etc.

What advice would you give fellow veterinarians who are considering a job in the ICRC?

ICRC is an organization that will make you discover different facets of your profession, which can awaken a sleeping passion in you. It has a unique and favourable work environment for veterinary professionals with high levels of flexibility and innumerable opportunities.