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Christophe Gadrey
DG ECHO Desk Officer

Christophe Gadrey
DG ECHO Desk Officer

Groupe URD is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Could you introduce yourself and tell us about your dealings with Groupe URD?

I have been a Desk Officer at DG ECHO for 6 years. I have worked for the Chad and Haiti Desks, and I currently work for the Bangladesh and Nepal Desk. I have been in contact with Groupe URD since arriving at DG ECHO, but I knew about them before because my parents have a house in Buis les Baronnies. It really is a small world in this sector.

How would you describe Groupe URD briefly/in a word?

In the work that I have carried out with support from Groupe URD, I was struck by the commitment of the team, the operational capacity of its staff in the field who have an ability to adapt to contexts and excellent relations with all kinds of humanitarian organisations, from the smallest to the largest. They have good networks in the countries where they work, and are involved in an interesting combination of theoretical analysis and concrete operations in the field.

What is your perception of Groupe URD? How do you perceive its role, its positioning and its specific characteristics?

There are very few bodies which exist in France which are able to carry out research into humanitarian aid (compared to the Anglo-Saxon think tanks). Groupe URD has a somewhat different approach to humanitarianism and I like to think that they contribute to preserving a specifically French approach within the spectrum of the humanitarian movement.

Do you have an anecdote that you would like to share?

My anecdote is a memory of impassioned discussions in N’Djamena with Groupe URD staff. I really appreciated the quality of our exchanges and discussions. I felt that we really analysed what ECHO should do in Chad. I will always associate the time I spent in Chad in 2007/2008 with the intellectual pleasure of those discussions.

How do you see Groupe URD in the future? What are your wishes for the future?

I think that Groupe URD’s positioning is good. As an organisation, I think that this idea of a French-style think tank rooted in the field is necessary. Groupe URD is rooted in operational projects, with people in the field who do not fly 5000 feet above the problems on the ground. It is important that they manage to keep that aspect. It is a shame that they don’t have some form of “marketing of ideas”. For Groupe URD’s ideas to make progress, the right media need to be found to communicate better.

I also think that Humanitarian Aid on the Move is an interesting review and it is a good idea to translate it into English and Spanish.

Lastly, I hope Groupe URD’s work influences donor thinking and has an impact on the actions of organizations like ECHO.