Focus on Fellows
Zakir Hussain Hassanzada
Regional Senior Officer (Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning), Bamyan Regional Office, Aga Khan Foundation – Afghanistan
Afghan Fellow – 2018
As a Fellow in the 2018 Cycle of the UNITAR Afghanistan Fellowship Programme, Zakir Hussain Hassanzada was part of a project called Honey Bees – Economic Development Through Beekeeping.
In the programme, Fellows are divided into small groups that are responsible for developing a project proposal that addresses a local need. One of the members of Zakir’s group interviewed 20 beekeepers in Afghanistan’s Bamyan Province and found that they face a lack of machinery to process products and a lack of understanding of packaging and marketing, which gives them trouble linking their products to available markets.
Zakir’s group developed a project to improve the beekeepers’ livelihood through providing trainings, tools and resources (such as beehives), and a processing center to package the honey. They also plan to connect the beekeepers to new markets through an exhibition and festival to promote their product and gain new customers. The project aims to increase honey production and income generation at the household level.
Additionally, the project has an element of women’s empowerment, as most target beekeepers are women and an increase in their independent income would allow them greater freedom of decision-making.
Although project selection can sometimes be contentious, as most Fellows naturally want their idea to be chosen, Zakir noted that his group reasonably and democratically selected the beekeeping project because they saw it having the most public benefit out of all the proposed ideas. He joked that theirs was the only team with no conflict, probably due to good task division and communication, with everyone focused on the successful conclusion of the Fellowship and proposal. Although the team started as strangers, they came to know each other well.
In his work as a Regional Senior Officer for the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) – Afghanistan, Zakir is responsible for the Bamyan Regional Office’s Monitoring and Evaluation Unit. The unit does data collection and analysis, reviews AKF’s projects in the province, and conducts baseline and end-line evaluation. Zakir found that UNITAR’s training on the Results Chain, project management, and team building related closely to his professional experience.
Now that his cycle through the Fellowship is complete, Zakir plans to apply what he’s learned to his work. He mentioned that AKF employs a big team to manage many programmes, but the team occasionally struggles to meet deadlines. Zakir plans to conduct a desk review and pay attention to his team members’ workstyles in order to make key changes and improve efficiency.
In terms of his improved technical skills, Zakir intends to apply his knowledge of the Results Chain – in which one plans every step of a project in reverse order, by imagining what will be necessary to produce the desired outcomes – to his work in monitoring and evaluation. His improved awareness of informed and targeted communication with stakeholders will also prove a boon to his workplace.