Lutz Krebs and the World Food Programme

Lutz Krebs, Programme Director of the BSc Global Studies, has lived all over the world. From Germany to New Zealand and from Switzerland to Ireland.

The place that made the biggest impact on him? “Definitely Zambia.”

Lutz started his studies in Maastricht, where he was enrolled in a doctorandus in economics. He decided to pursue a degree in Humanitarian Assistance because he wanted to help people who wanted and needed help. “I was really interested in helping just a couple of families not starve,” Lutz says. During his studies, he did an internship with the World Food Programme in Zambia. “The World Food Programme offered ‘school feedings’ to Zambian families: when you send your kids to school, we will feed your entire family. That’s a pretty good deal in regions where inhabitants are poor and often have to choose to send children to work to augment meagre incomes.”

“In the early 2000s, Zambia was one of the poorest countries in the world, but it was politically stable and democratic. Countries that aren’t in the news for some disaster or conflict often don’t receive substantial support. Meanwhile, Zambia was very generous, ranking among the top 15 countries worldwide in housing refugees. But with the world focused on trying to stabilise Iraq, it was hard to find funds to feed people. Support only went up during the seasonal flooding of the Zambezi river, where refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo were housed — these floods would create the emergency situation that Zambia needed to receive foreign aid.”

The burden of poverty and of caring for all around you impressed Lutz. “When my internship was done, I went to Switzerland for my PhD. I had a Zambian friend who would visit me. She was using her income to support her family and take classes at university, but even then, a cousin broke into her house and sold her TV to make ends meet. It is very hard to work your way out of poverty or build up a small existence.”

According to Lutz, most people working in humanitarian aid are idealists. “All students in my programme were idealists. We really hoped we would be able to make a change in the world. We were hoping to go to poor places to bring much-needed support, and were aware of the risks ahead. But that doesn’t mean you are prepared for all eventualities. I was lucky, where others were less fortunate. It is essential that we support those who are idealistic and who are willing to give their abilities, their energy and their enthusiasm for the benefit of others. Good training and preparation for people going into the field helps them help others.”

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