27 July 2012 Kinshasa, DRC:
“It is gratifying to help local communities in their efforts to achieve democratic consolidation and peace,” declares Jorge Aliaga, a United Nations Volunteer assigned to the Electoral Logistics Support Division for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) in Bandundu. “It is a long process and there are still many things to do, but we are moving in the right direction.”
After working for the Peruvian army as a specialist in telecommunications and logistics, Jorge later became a United Nations Volunteer, arriving in 2011. In the service of the Peruvian army, he worked alongside the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (ONUCI) as a Military Observer. Thus the seed was planted in him to boost his experience with the United Nations and to work as a United Nations Volunteer for impoverished people.
Jorge works as an officer in charge of the Provincial Electoral Assistance Service for the Bandundu province. Located west of the Kinshasa city-province and divided into 18 territories with 2 main cities, Bandundu covers a total area of 295,580 m². “Meeting electoral goals on-time in a province with a surface area equal to Italy and five times greater than Togo is not an easy task.” Timing, as Jorge mentions, is crucial in an election process; everything must be ready before election day in the 20 electoral districts in order to ensure voters the full exercise of their voting rights.
In Bandundu, the Electoral Logistics Support Division is composed of 5 people, 3 of which are United Nations Volunteers. As part of his assignment, Jorge has accompanied the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) to the 20 Candidacy Reception and Processing Offices and to the 910 Local Centers for the Compilation of Voting Results. There, his role was to provide logistical and technical support to local institutions. Examples of this support include identifying and installing polling stations and voting booths, distributing electoral material, recruiting and training electoral staff, registering candidates by territory and counting votes after the elections.
This lengthy and strenuous work required a full commitment 24 hours a day and 7 days a week during the election period. “I believe that as Volunteers we are there for the local communities and commit to working for them with professionalism. I share my knowledge and professional experience in logistics management and planning with my counterparts at the CENI,” explains Jorge. “For example, my counterparts and colleagues at the CENI have benefited from my cartography skills. It is rewarding for me to show them how to use planning tools.”