2006, looking back
by Anna Klissouras
Bonn, Germany: In 2006, over 7,500 UNV volunteers supported communities, non-governmental and civil society organizations as well as governments all over the world to foster sustainable development. In more than 140 countries, UNV volunteers, the majority of whom hail from developing countries themselves, worked in key areas such as poverty reduction, crisis recovery, elections support, governance and HIV/AIDS.
One highlight happened in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where some 800 UNV volunteers worked with the UN mission MONUC, constituting the largest peacekeeping operation for UNV. Hundreds of UNV volunteers supported both rounds of the presidential elections in July and October. The elections were a historical event for DR Congo, whose citizens did not have the privilege to vote for 46 years.
Another example for UNV’s elections support comes from Haiti. For the Caribbean state, 2006 was an outstanding year with the presidential, legislative, local and municipal elections taking place. About 190 volunteers helped in preparing and rolling out the elections. Especially UNV volunteers from the Electoral and Civil Affairs Section contributed crucially to the success of this process. Among other activities, they deployed voting kits and sensitive material like ballots and tally sheets to each of the 9,231 polling stations across the country. Particularly in the rural and remote regions of Haiti, the volunteer’s logistical support was of high importance due to the country’s poor infrastructure.
One of the year’s highlights for UNV in Kyrgyzstan was the “I Volunteer” Youth Campaign, promoted by the UNV Youth Project. The 6 week campaign started on Global Youth Service Day, 21 April, with the aim to promote the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and strengthen the Youth Volunteer Network through inter-regional volunteer exchanges. Events and voluntary activities took place across all seven provinces of the Kyrgyz Republic and particularly focused on prevention of HIV / AIDS, environmental projects and support for disadvantaged children. Volunteers linked the volunteer actions in the different districts by carrying a flag from one province to the other. Eventually, the flag was handed to the Deputy Minister of Education.
UNV in East Timor is celebrating the approval of the National UNV scheme as a major success of the year 2006. As UNV Programme Officer Rafiqul Haider believes, the use of mixed teams of international and national volunteers will enhance national capacity and human resource development by strengthening the pool of expertise and knowledge. So far, only international volunteers had worked with UNV.
The last example comes from Viet Nam, where UNV, in partnership with the Vietnam Women’s Union, implemented an important project for the Greater Involvement of People Living with or Affected by HIV/AIDS (GIPA) in four districts of the country.
These few examples merely provide a glimpse of UNV volunteers’ contributions to development in 2006 and cannot do justice to all of the thousands of vounteers supporting communities, organizations and governments in impacting projects on a daily basis.
To learn more about UNV’s activities in 2006, read the News section.
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