Douglas Amponsah, Ghana, Warehouse Assistant Supervisor, UNMIS
Khartoum, Sudan: With over 100 international and national staff, my section, Property Management, is charged with providing integrated support to the mission by the receiving, storage and distribution of all mission assets.
Under the supervision of the Warehouse Manager, I am responsible for the administration of assets in the Communication and Information Technology Section (CITS) in my duty station in Khartoum. This includes material management databases, the physical inspection of all materials under my supervision, entry of maintenance data, processing of material write-off applications and entry of new materials to the database. I also train national staff in all areas associated with material administration.
The working week starts on Sunday, and like any working day I make sure that our counter staff are on hand to issue assets like hand-held radios, computer sets, mobile phones and many more to military, police and civilian personnel who are checking into the mission. These assets are assigned to their names until they complete their assignments and either hand the kit over to someone else, or return it back to the stock. We also make sure materials returned are in proper condition for reissue.
This aspect of my daily functions have been the most challenging, because I have to make sure the materials database (Galileo) is up to date in order that each staff member in possession of 'non-expandable' mission property will take good care and account for it.
On numerous occasions, staff members checking out of the mission run into problems regarding the handover of items in their possession. Once, a staff member handed over his vehicle with a different VHF radio fitted in that car. We realized there had been a swap of the VHF Radio with another vehicle under a different user. It was a Thursday (end of the working week), and the staff member whose contract had ended, had already bought a ticket to travel back home over the weekend. This meant that I had to work within the remaining hours to clear her.
I quickly contacted her duty station (Damazine) via telephone for a physical confirmation of the assets in question. Then I traced and physically verified the radio under her name before making the necessary changes in Galileo to reflect the users of the two assets. After that, a handover voucher was created to transfer the asset from the staff member checking out to a new user. The staff member was subsequently cleared and she was able to travel according schedule.
Before assets are ready for use, I also have to prepare and send stock requests to the Mission Logistics Base in El-Obeid. Then I get the warehouse ready to receive these requests. They usually come either by road in a convoy, or if items are needed urgently they come in by flight. In that case I arrange to pick them up from Movement Control (MovCon) at the airport. I enter them into the database, and notify some specific users to collect their equipment. Others are delivered because of their size and the lack of space to keep them.
This is where I realized I was making a big difference in my job, because loads of pending requests were issued and closed. When we had run out of certain items issued over the counter, they were replenished. Then by the use of the Online Electronic Request (eRequest), I started sending notices to users as soon as their requests were approved. This reduced the complaints that were coming in from our customers. Also, monthly filing of records at the El-Obeid logistics base became regular.
Finally, when the Warehouse Manager is on leave, I have to combine the supervision of CITS and Supply Warehouse operations and make sure it runs until his return. It is always not pleasant news to my supervisor when I inform him of the date I intend to take leave.
So far it has been nine months of valuable professional experience. Working with people from diverse cultural backgrounds has greatly improved my sensitivity to other cultures and customs, and the joy of sharing my knowledge and learning from others in pursuit of peace has been the driving force behind the satisfaction I derive in serving as a UNV volunteer.
Indeed, being my first mission as a UNV volunteer, I'm more than happy to contribute in this capacity to support UNMIS in achieving its mandate, and to the UN as a whole trying to bring peace to the Government and people of Sudan.
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