Alumni Spotlight: Raina Zantout – MEAL Expert and Regional Representative, WASH for Life – Beirut, Lebanon
Since my time at the University of Florida (MDP graduate 2014, Cohort 3), I have been working primarily in Monitoring and Evaluation in both development and humanitarian response. I currently work as a MEAL (Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning) Expert and Regional Representative for WASH for Life (https://www.washforlife.nl/), a global consortium of WASH (Water and Sanitation Hygiene) professionals. My role is to design tools and methodologies and conduct evaluations of WASH programs in the Middle East, North Africa and Francophone Africa.
I am based out of Beirut, Lebanon, although lately I am working elsewhere or traveling. My work has focused primarily on the Syrian emergency refugee response, post-Ebola recovery, and WASH/health development projects. The MDP program with a Global Health focus helped me achieve success by teaching about the development context: types of successful and sustainable interventions; project failures over the years; terminology and approaches in global health; and best practices in data collection and management.
I spent two years working as a field-based MEAL Manager for iNGOs in emergency and post-emergency settings. It was my job to follow through on all tasks related to Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning. I gained tremendous experience through monitoring programs for challenges, gaps, impact, and relevance; I better understand the relationships between donors, partners and beneficiaries. I encourage beneficiary accountability through participatory program planning and a constant, monitored feedback loop.
My professional interests since my time at UF have remained roughly the same. I enjoyed my role as a cash distribution program manager, yet I lean towards WASH and health programming: safe wastewater reuse, sanitation/water infrastructure (hardware), hygiene outreach (software), and diarrheal and water-borne disease prevention. These days, I better understand the shifting role over time of iNGOs, the UN and other organizations, and I float between emergency and post-emergency programs.
Six cohorts–a total of 52 students–have now graduated from the University of Florida MDP program. Many Alumni have successfully secured jobs in the development field–NGO, government, private sector, and research positions–while others have opted to continue in higher education, successfully gaining admittance to PhD programs related to international research and development. Although the following list of UF MDP alumni placements is not comprehensive, it gives an idea of what kinds of professional and academic positions one can expect to attain after completing the MDP program.
|Director of Research||Royal Hawaiian Orchards||Oahu, Hawaii|
|MEAL Expert and Regional Representative||WASH for Life||Lebanon|
|Program Coordinator||Fundación Runa||Peru|
|Project Coordinator||University of Florida International Center - Water and Livelihoods Initiative in Northern Africa||Gainesville, FL|
|Project Manager||Catholic Relief Services (CRS)||Guatemala|
|Lead Community Health Worker for State of Florida||United Healthcare||Gainesville, FL|
|Program Manager, Women in Agriculture||University of Maryland||College Park, MD|
|Operations Consultant||Mission Guatemala||Guatemala|
|Senior Manager of Search and Selection||Echoing Green||New York City|
|Assistant Director of Development||University of Florida Foundation||Gainesville, FL|
|Associate Lecturer||Sokoine University of Agriculture in the Department of Forest Economics||Tanzania|
|Consultant in Participatory Measurement Reporting and Verification (PMRV) Research Project||Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)||West Kalimantan, Indonesia|
|Project Officer||Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI)||Washington, DC|
|Program Officer||Salvation Army||Washington, DC|
|Program Coordinator, Youth Action Net||International Youth Foundation||Baltimore, MD|
|Uganda Country Liaison||Children of the Nations||Orlando, FL|