Menu ENN Search

Valid International Ltd.

Name Valid International Ltd. Email address office@validinternational.org
Address Unit 4,
Oxford Enterprise Centre,
Standingford House,
Oxford,
OX4 1BA, UK.
Year formed 1999
Telephone

(1865) 722180

Directors Steve Collins, Alistair Hallam.
Fax (1865) 722180 Staff (global) 17
Internet site www.validinternational.org Annual budget £600,000

 

 

Interview by Jeremy Shoham

CTC training workshop participants

The ENN interviewed Steve Collins, cofounder of VALID in a coffee bar near Farringdon in the City of London. Steve established VALID with Alistair Hallam in March 1999. They originally met while working on the multi-donor Rwanda evaluation in 1995. Their first encounter involved an argument over agency responses in the Great Lakes region with Steve assuming Alistair to be 'a desk-bound pen-pusher' and Alistair seeing Steve as one of the "loud mouthed done it once before so I'm an expert brigade". The frank exchange of views seemed to sow the seeds of a friendship. Both ended up sharing a flat and working together on a number of evaluation consultancies and setting up humanitarian operations together. During this period Steve and Alistair talked a lot about their frustration with the lack of humanitarian agency learning, the poor evidence base for practice as well as the generally low level of professionalism amongst humanitarian agency staff. These discussions led to the idea of setting up an agency which would primarily aim to strengthen the evidence base for practice, support professional development and also allow them to follow through projects working as partners with agencies ('unlike consultancies where project reports are often left to gather dust').

Material used in CTC training.

Incredibly, Alistair signed up for medical school in 1998 and continued his studies to qualification while co-directing and managing the work of VALID. Steve remembers Alistair's agonising over whether to go to medical school -in fact the only time he remembered beating Alistair at tennis was when Alistair was totally preoccupied on the final day for sending in the application form for medical school.

VALID ticked along for a year or so with Steve and Alistair doing a number of consultancies/ evaluations in the humanitarian sphere. Initially the focus of Valid work was evaluation and they performed a number of evaluations including the DEC evaluations of the response to the floods in Mozambique, the DEC evaluation of humanitarian response in the Balkans (jointly with ODI), and more recently the evaluation of the DEC agencies response in Southern Africa. The Community based Theraputic Care (CTC) work for which VALID is most renown began in Ethiopia in 2000 when after the regional government in Woliyta forbade agencies from setting up TFC, Valid worked with Concern and Oxfam to set up community based programs to treat severe malnutrition. Steve took the findings from Ethiopia, which were generally positive regarding CTC, to the annual SCN meeting in Nairobi arguing that this was the future of treatment for severe malnutrition. Some agencies bought into this while others were either ambivalent or downright hostile. Steve recognises that going in with all guns blazing (as was his style at the time) may not have been the best approach and probably set back the cause for a while. Soon however, Concern Worldwide agreed to fund the development of CTC for three years working with Valid in a number of countries to test and develop the model. Several experts were assembled, e.g. Andrew Tomkins from ICH, Jeya Henry from Brookes, Johan Pottier from SOAS and Mark Myatt from UCL. These individuals provided high level technical support in the design phase of CTC projects. Additional staff were taken on with VALID helping a number of agencies to implement these programmes, e.g. SC UK in Darfur and the DRC, Tear Fund in South Sudan,. The funding from Concern allowed VALID to pursue a coherent and well structured research program aimed at systematically developing a strong multi-discipline evidence base for CTC. CTC is now being adopted by many agencies while donor interest and support has spiralled. In Steve's words, 'we have changed a lot with CTC and I don't think I'm just bigging it up because it was Valid that did it'.

Training of outreach workers

Steve plans to extend the CTC model to deliver other types of services, i.e. health care. VALID are now moving into the HIV/AIDS arena. With the strong linkages between health, malnutrition and HIV, Steve argues that CTC provides the perfect entry point for interventions to address HIV/AIDS. CTC is in many ways analogous to Home Based Care (HBC). However, external agency support to HBC runs the risk of undermining the community ethos, while the CTC experience shows that by starting off treating acute malnutrition CTC interventions gives agencies a non-stigmatizing entry point that gives them time and space to build confidence in the approach at community level whilst gradually expanding to complement informal support networks rather than usurp them. Another planned development for CTC that relates to HIV is the use of pro-biotics and micronutrients supplementation in RUTF. Pro-biotics can be delivered in RUTF and have a marked impact on diarrhoea - the lacto-bacilli remain dormant until delivery. Furthermore, recent research shows how vitamin B, C and E supplementation can delay the development of stage four HIV from stage 3 by up to 30%. RUTF can therefore provide treatment for diarrhoea and essential additional macro and micronutrients for those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

Volunteers being trained to use MUAC in Ethiopia

Perhaps inevitably, the interview turned to a discussion about agency institutional issues. Steve mused on his opinion of INGOs towards whom he sometimes has an ambivalent attitude. Mostly, he admires the generosity of spirit behind NGOs and their desire to effect positive change for the disadvantaged. However, at times, he is disturbed by their appetite for profile and positive PR to facilitate fund raising. He worries that this requirement for positive spin erodes the ability of agencies to be truthful and can lead to overly defensive behaviour and resulting inability to be transparent about mistakes. This obviously translates into failure to learn. He feels that VALID have a culture where owning up to mistakes and activities which have not worked out has allowed much learning. Steve explained how VALID is legally a company with share-holders and does not have fund raisers. Instead, funding comes from contracts with donors or INGOs and means that Valid has to be really efficient in terms of it's income and expenditures as ultimately money is raised on the basis of results not profile. VALID are not a charity so cannot guarantee income by appealing to a humanitarian ethos. At the same time VALID do not operate like a normal profitmaking company and although clearly financial survival is important, money is not the central driving force. The fact that VALID disseminate and develop expertise on CTC by assisting agencies to run these programmes on their own is effectively doing VALID out of work. CARE, SC US and SC-UK, who previously contracted VALID to design, set-up and evaluate CTC programs for them are now doing CTC on their own without any VALID support'. 'This however is fine and what VALID are largely about'.

Training in screening criteria

VALID currently have 15/16 employees with some staff doing non-CTC related consultancies. Steve acknowledges that this may increase in the future as the need to diversify activities increases, i.e. as other agencies develop expertise in CTC. Steve reckons that the best direction for VALID in the future is quality control and validation. He argues that accreditation and quality control by VALID would be better than an evaluation report. Both Alistair and Steve are optimistic about the future of the organisation. Staff are increasing and acquiring expertise. Many are producing publications and some are enrolling on Phds.

Steve says that he dislikes too formal a structure/organisation and hopes to keep the 'vibe' of VALID fairly informal. As he quipped, there haven't been any resignations as yet. He wants VALID to grow but not to become a monolith. At the same time he sees the potential for more experienced staff to 'bud off' and form groups which they manage more autonomously. There is no question that VALID has a unique institutional culture - probably a reflection of the individuals responsible for setting it up. There is also no question that VALID has made a unique and valued contribution to the humanitarian sector through its work on CTC.

More like this

FEX: Introduction (Special Supplement 2)

Glossary ACF Action Contre la Faim CHA Community Health Assistant CHAM Christian Health Association of Malawi CNW Community Nutrition Worker CTC Community Therapeutic...

FEX: DEC Sothern Africa Crisis Appeal

Summary of published report Over 1300 people waiting for seed vouchers in Maboleni Valid International has recently published an evaluation of the Disaster Emergency...

FEX: CTC Approach (Special Supplement 2)

by Steve Collins (Valid International) 2.1 Main principles of CTC Community Therapeutic Care (CTC) is a community-based model for delivering care to malnourished people. CTC...

FEX: Integration in CTC (Special Supplement 2)

by Jamie Lee Many of the articles in this supplement explore the concepts and practice of 'integration' within CTC programmes. A variety of meanings and values are attached to...

FEX: Integrating CTC and HIV/AIDS Support in Malawi

By Saul Guerrero, Paluku Bahwere, Kate Sadler, and Steve Collins, Valid International Saul Guerrero is a Social and Community Development Advisor. Dr. Paluku Bahwere (PhD) is...

FEX: Case Studies (Special Supplement 2)

3.1 CTC in Ethiopia- Working from CTC Principles Isolated village in the highlands of South Wollo, Ethiopia. By Kate Golden (Concern Ethiopia) and Tanya Khara (Valid...

FEX: Integration of CTC with strategies to address HIV/AIDS (Special Supplement 2)

By Paluku Bahwere, Saul Guerrero, Kate Sadler & Steve Collins (Valid International) The district health officer of Dowa, Malawi, briefs clinic and community workers about the...

FEX: Community-based Approaches to Managing Severe Malnutrition

One nutrition worker's solution to childcare at a busy feeding distribution! A three day meeting was held in Dublin hosted by Concern and Valid International between 8-10th of...

FEX: Integrating CTC in health care delivery systems in Malawi (Special Supplement 2)

By Kate Sadler & Tanya Khara (Valid International), Alem Abay (Concern Malawi) In February 2002, the Malawi government declared a national nutritional emergency and the UN...

FEX: ENN report of Washington CTC meeting 2005

A new ENN publication on operational challenges of implementing therapeutic care is now available. The report summarises key elements of the presentations and discussions that...

FEX: Valid Nutrition

Name Valid Nutrition Address Cuibín Farm, Derry Duff, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland Chief Executive Officer: Derek Staveley Phone +353 86 7809541 Chair of Trustees...

FEX: Postscript: Local purchase of ingredients for RUTF in developing countries?

By Steve Collins Steve Collins is a medical doctor with a doctorate in nutrition. He has been working in humanitarianism since 1985 and is the originator of the CTC/CMAM model...

FEX: Integrating OTP into routine health services CONCERN’s experiences

By Emily Mates Emily Mates is a public health professional with a focus in nutrition. She recently left Concern Worldwide, Ethiopia where she worked for many years in...

FEX: Kosovo Evaluation

During 1998 and early 1999 the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbian) forces increased their efforts to 'ethnically cleanse' Kosovo. They justified this on the basis that...

FEX: Ambulatory treatment of severe malnutrition

Severely malnourished child with father Commentary by Dr. Steve Collins Dr. Steve Collins is a medical doctor with a doctorate in nutrition during emergency operations. He is...

FEX: The Cost of Selective Feeding (Special Supplement 2)

by Rose Caldwell & Alistair Hallam (Valid International) The aim of this paper is to present the cost per beneficiary of CTC and discuss aspects of these costs, underlying...

FEX: Community-based Therapeutic Care (CTC): A Field Manual

Community Therapeutic Care (CTC) is an approach to managing acute malnutrition that has regularly featured in Field Exchange and was the subject of an ENN special supplement1....

FEX: ACC/SCN Working Group on Nutrition in Emergencies

The annual UN ACC/SCN meeting was held in Nairobi, Kenya between 2-5 April 2001. The Working Group on nutrition in Emergencies meeting was held on the 5th. Highlights of the...

FEX: Letter on community mobilisation in outpatient management of severe malnutrition, by Saul Guerrero and Steve Collins

Community mobilisation at the core of outpatient treatment of severe malnutrition Dear Editor, There is now a robust evidence base demonstrating that the outpatient care...

FEX: Technical and Management issues within CTC (Special Supplement 2)

4.1 CTC from Scratch - Tear Fund in South Sudan By Ed Walker (Tearfund) Beneficiaries collecting their general ration in South Sudan. Tearfund has been working in Northern...

Close

Reference this page

Jeremy Shoham (2004). Valid International Ltd.. Field Exchange 23, November 2004. p22. www.ennonline.net/fex/23/agencyprofile