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Stéphanie Daniel-Genc
Project Manager at the French Ministry of Defence’s Strategic Affairs Directorate

Stéphanie Daniel-Genc
Project Manager at the French Ministry of Defence’s Strategic Affairs Directorate

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

I work for the Strategic Affairs Directorate and I met Groupe URD for the first time in 2005 during the evaluation of French government aid to countries affected by the Tsunami. Our relations with Groupe URD have been that of a commissioning body and a service provider, but in reality, it goes further than that, as we very regularly discuss operational practices and the latest developments in crisis contexts.

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

Groupe URD is very innovative in terms of studies and research. It is a genuine field organisation that does not hesitate to go right into crisis zones. Its other specific characteristic is that it shares the results of its research with everyone, in contrast to usual practice.

Can you describe Groupe URD briefly/in a word?

I would describe it as a UFO: we never know whether it is a field operator or a research centre. It is probably somewhere in between: there is both operational expertise and at the same time the capacity to produce knowledge and to develop ideas to improve practices.

Do you have any anecdotes to share with us?

I will always remember the time that François came to the Ministry to present one of his studies, wearing sandals and carrying a rucksack. He is capable of going to Haiti with just a mattress and adapting himself to the most difficult conditions. Some were won over by this way of being while others were surprised. In any case, Groupe URD’s approach is very different to that of other research bodies.

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

I think that Groupe URD will grow in strength and will become an increasingly important organisation, working with the biggest international donors. Obviously, the downside of growth of this kind could be that they lose touch with field realities and get caught up in the same technocratic spiral in which the major aid organizations find themselves. But I place my confidence in this team, because we really need researchers in sandals to help us see more clearly.