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5 Minutes With Takah Kapikinyu

We sat down for five minutes with Takah Kapikinyu who serves as a Specialist on USAID’s Program Cycle Mechanism contract. Here he tells us more about his work, bridging the gap between donors and implementing partners, and some of his favorite travels.

How would you describe your role?

I work on USAID’s Program Cycle Mechanism contract as an embedded Specialist, which means that I work for Environmental Incentives, but I’m based in a USAID office. I’m a Program Cycle Specialist with the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) unit for USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA). I currently assist the resilient food security activities and work on M&E policy and guidance and capacity building initiatives.

This work involves revising the M&E policy or guidance to include collective input from the team around how we can best capture impact for BHA programming. Recently I worked on a report on adaptive management during Covid-19, capturing the kind of adaptations BHA activities implemented throughout the pandemic.

What drew you to work as a Program Cycle Specialist?

I’ve always been interested in supporting USAID in their work. It’s a great opportunity to learn the donor’s perspective and to provide input from my experience on the implementing partner side. Also, after having worked in development for about 15 years I thought it was time for a change and to work with the donor to improve programming.

What is your favorite part about your work?

My favorite part about this role is that I work alongside the same people at BHA that I’ve known for a several years through my work on the implementing partner side. The pre-existing relationship has allowed for trust to build over time and it makes it easier to have some of those difficult conversations. We really understand each other and both sides, BHA and the implementing partners, can tell me if anything is wrong. Essentially, I get to play a bridging role, which I really enjoy.

What was your dream job growing up?

That has varied, but as a child I wanted to be a pilot or a lawyer. At one point I thought I would be a Catholic priest, but then when I went to college, I studied sociology and my first job was in international development and I’ve been hooked ever since.

What are your favorite pass-times?

I like hiking and traveling in general. I really like road trips, I’ve been to states up and down the East Coast of the U.S., from as far north as Vermont all the way down to South Beach, Florida. I also went on a couple of road trips in Southern Africa when I lived in Zimbabwe. I would drive from Zimbabwe to Lesotho and South Africa. I have done a road trip from Kenya to Tanzania. One time I took a trip to see a border area where four countries (Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia) meet. I have visited 32 countries, I like meeting new people, encountering new cultures and perspectives. If you don’t travel, you don’t get to see as many different perspectives, sometimes I prefer road trips mainly rather than flying.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

I’m proud to have achieved a few firsts for my family. I was the first one to go to college and the first to get a master’s degree. Every time I visit the Catholic mission where I grew up, my friends like to laugh about our humble beginnings and how far I’ve come, they call me the Village Hero. Now many others within my family have gone to university and graduate school, but I was the first one to do it at the time.

Do you have any words of wisdom? 

People should travel, when you travel you get different perspectives. “A village boy thinks his mother is the best cook in the world until he goes to the next village.” Talk to everybody and get to know them, you never know what they may have to offer. So don’t look down on people and try to be friendly to everybody.


Thanks for chatting with us, Takah! Stay tuned for more team spotlights coming soon.


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