Managing a Warehouse in East Darfur

Aziza is the only female storekeeper at the WFP sub-office in El Daien, East Darfur State, Sudan, a place where WFP provides food assistance to 156,000 people per year. With such a large number of Darfurians depending on WFP, staff members like Aziza are essential to ensuring that the right amount of food is delivered to the right number of people. We had the chance to hear about her job in East Darfur, and what it means to be the last staffer to send off WFP food for delivery.

 

Tell us a little about how you came to WFP.
In 2006, I started with WFP in South Darfur as a casual labourer.  After a year, I was promoted to Storekeeper, which means that I supervise all commodity handling, including its arrival, storage and dispatch. Food and relief items from our warehouses are delivered to IDP camps, schools and many local villages.

How was the transition to your new job as a Storekeeper?

It wasn’t long after I took up my new role that I learned it wouldn’t be easy. In the first year we faced a big challenge. Because of growing needs of the population in East Darfur, WFP’s monthly food requirements nearly tripled, and we needed to move to a bigger warehouse --  this meant transferring 2,500mt tonnes of food assistance (a total of 1,250 bags) with only two WFP trucks of 15 metric tonne capacity each. You can imagine how many trips it takes to move all of this food! We also had to re-erect rub-halls to act as additional storage. Within a few months, we relocated warehouses and went from handling 2,000mt to nearly 6,000mt/per month.  

What do you like most about your job?
I like that I am the last one to check the convoy and send it off for delivery. Being a part of the team in East Darfur makes me very proud because I am helping to save thousands of lives.

What is your biggest challenge?
In Darfur, the job as a storekeeper is commonly adopted by men. Given the nature of the assignment, it was exciting to take on this new role.  Besides running the operation with only one or two staff at our warehouses in El Daien, my biggest challenge was to have faith in myself as a manager, as well as to illustrate that women like me have what it takes to do this job in this demanding context.
 
I had to work hard - not only for me, but to gain the respect and acceptance of my community as a team leader, paving the way for other Darfurian women. Now after four years with WFP I can say I have succeeded and I am proud that I have upheld WFP’s good reputation. It is largely due to the excellent support of my supervisors and the WFP family, especially strong and inspiring women like Azeb Arat (former WFP Area Coordinator in Nyala, South Darfur), that I am able to successfully continue this role.

Do you have any advice to women who would like to take on a role like yours?
Believe in yourself and be confident! WFP is not only saving lives, but it gives hope, makes you strong, and gives you the opportunity to be a part of the solution in the community around you.