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Joseph Dato
Director of HUMACOOP, 23 years with Médecins Du Monde

Joseph Dato
Director of HUMACOOP, 23 years with Médecins Du Monde

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

The association that we created in Grenoble (HUMACOOP) was created at almost the same time as Groupe URD, in 1994. We organized conferences together on subjects related to aid, and for 17 years Groupe URD staff have come to us to facilitate training courses. There have always been ties between us. From the beginning, Groupe URD staff have brought their teaching and technical references, and their particular skills to our training courses. It has been an exchange.

We have taken part in meetings and conferences together. This informal partnership has continued over the years. The ties have existed for 18 years.

Our relations have never been competitive; they have always been very easy. Groupe URD’s area of expertise and the modules that they run are complementary.

Can you describe Groupe URD briefly/in a word?

Due to its competencies, Groupe URD has managed to establish itself in a certain number of niches related to humanitarian issues. They are not part of the mainstream; they deal with concepts which are complementary to ours. They are not a traditional toolbox. Their strength lies in « Small is Beautiful ».

I would also say that they are a group of dedicated experts working with great finesse in these niches.

I imagine that from time to time they have to deal with a few little problems, issues to do with responding to calls for proposals, which takes a lot of time and energy, and which we all have difficulty with.

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

The innovative side of Groupe URD is impressive. They work in areas where other organisations like MSF and the Red Cross do not venture. They have a detailed and qualitative approach. They put a lot of thought into what they do.

Do you have any anecdotes to share with us?

Each time I have gone to Groupe URD headquarters I haven’t been able to find it! I asked François when he was going to move and he said “Never! We’re happy here. The air is good”. There is something surreal about the headquarters’ “eagle’s nest” location, opposite the Mont Ventoux. Each time I go, I say to myself, “It’s such a long way!”.

Relations are human at Groupe URD. There is exchange without any sense of competition or suspicion.

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

They have to stay the way they are, but without forgetting that there are dangers and risks in terms of positioning which I feel are genuine because humanitarian action is changing. These changes are being endured rather than anticipated. More and more energy is being spent for donors rather than for the people affected by crises. Groupe URD is a facilitator, an innovator. I hope that people listen to them and that their approach is successful.

Groupe URD occupies a special place alongside the “humanitarian mainstream” and I hope they will continue to do so.

Long live Groupe URD!