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Glossary of aid jargon

Chief of Party – The head of a large program, usually funded by a single donor, that is being run as a separate administrative entity to any other programs that the agency might have. Often donors like USAID will ask that a particularly large project have a Chief of Party who reports directly to a regional or head office rather than to a Country Director, in order to simplify line management. Cf Country Director.
Country Director – the most senior position in a particular country for most NGOs, the director of all aspects of an agency’s operations in that country. Cf Mission director, Chief of Party.
DART Team – Disaster Assistance Response Team – a USAID lead team who assess and support emergency response missions for the US government.
Director of Operations – large programs will often have a Director of Operations instead of, or as well as, a Deputy Country Director. Reporting to the CD, this position is responsible for implementing programs, and managing the day-to-day running of the agency, while the Country Director focuses on strategy and funding.
ECHO – European Union Humanitarian Organization. The EU’s emergency humanitarian funding arm.
Expatriate staff (expat) – from the latin, ex-patria meaning “outside of one’s home country”. Expats are foreigners working in a developing country. While historically these folks have been westerners giving technical assistance or managing assistance programs, increasingly nationals of one developing country are becoming expatriate managers in other developing countries. Roughly 10% of all staff of humanitarian agencies are expats, usually in technical or senior roles. Cf National staff.
Food For Peace – a piece of the US government aid bureaucracy that deals largely with food assistance.
Hiring Manager – the person (usually, but not always, in the field) who requested that a recruiting process begins, and who has final say over the candidate hired. Sometimes this person is a Country Director or Program Manager in a field office, and in some agencies this is a human resource function. Regardless – this is the person who you have to convince that you are the best choice to make their life easier, and their work more effective.
ICRC – The Switzerland based Red Cross, the International Committee of the Red Cross.
INGO – International Non-Governmental Organization.
IFRC – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – the organization of all of the different national red cross organizations.
National staff (nationals) – people who are hired to work in the country they live in. They make up the bulk of staff of humanitarian agencies, and in some places, the entire staff – these are called ‘fully nationalized’ offices. Cf Expatriate staff.
NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NGO – Non-Governmental Organization cf PVO.
PVO – Private Voluntary Organization cf NGO.
Project Manager – a manager of an individual project.
Program Manager – a manager of a number of (usually) related projects. Eg a Health Program Manager might supervise 3-4 health projects. Bear in mind that a program manager of a large program may actually have a larger staff and budget than the Country Director of a small program.
R&R – Rest and Recuperation. Additional vacation time given in recognition of hardship.
Red Cross / Red Crescent see IFRC and ICRC.
RFA – Request for Applications, a request by a donor for proposals to implement a particular program in a particular place.
UN – United Nations – an inter-governmental organization, comprised of dozens of UN agencies, each responsible for some component of international security, development, trade, postal services, you name it. Some of the larger UN agencies you might meet are:
UNDP – UN Development Program
UNHCR – UN High Commission for Refugees
UNHR – UN Human Rights
UNMIK – the UN Mission in Kosovo – an example of a territory specific peacekeeping mission, responsible for maintaining the peace in the province of Kosovo, and established after the NATO bombing there. There are many of these ad-hoc military groups operating around the world under the UN flag, but all are comprised of donated military contingents from UN member nations. Quality and force levels vary considerably.
WFP – the UN World Food Program
USAID – United States Agency for International development – one of the US agencies that funds overseas development projects.
USDA – United States Department of Agriculture – one of the more surprising US agencies that funds overseas development projects.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 17, 2014 8:11 am

    Thank you so much for the succinct definition of “Chief of party”. I am finding that job listing often on LinkedIn but it is unfamiliar to me. You have the best definition by far of any I have found. Under the “Chief of party” definition should “simply” perhaps be “simplify”?

    • March 17, 2014 9:24 am

      Glad that was helpful! Thanks for spotting the typo!

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