01 December 2002 The United Nations Volunteers programme (UNV) started its work in the Central African Republic in 1973, and since that time it has strongly supported the activities of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). While UNV's focus has been to support grass-roots development initiatives, it has also supported national institutions. For instance, UN Volunteers lectured at the University of Bangui's Department for Information Technologies and the Institute for rural development in M'Baiki, while other UN Volunteers provided intensive training on community health to thousands of women in the prevention of diseases, such as HIV/AIDS.
UN Volunteers' current contribution to the Central African Republic
Currently, 33 UN Volunteers are serving in the Central African Republic. Among these:
- Twenty-seven support a United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) initiative for the eradication of poverty. The UN Volunteers act as the outreach arm and support activities geared towards increasing access to basic services, skills training and employment promotion, facilitating access to micro credit, strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations and forging links among communities and institutions. The UN Volunteers are also training local volunteers, providing them with the skills to continue activities in poverty eradication and acting as trainers promoting local volunteerism after the project is completed;
- One UN Volunteer coordinates the national programme of demobilization and reintegration of former combatants. By recovering illegal weapons, this programme reintegrates the former combatants into civil life and provides them with skills training to run small business activities;
- A UN Volunteer human rights officer assists the United Nations Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA) in its human rights promotion activities and also monitors the human rights situation in prisons;
- One national UNV Information Assistant works with UNDP's Communication Unit providing primarily news reports for the UN radio station. A UNV Program Officer develops and monitors the UNV program.
- A UNV IT-Specialist contributes to bridge the digital divide while coordinating and advising students on the Cisco-Learning Academy project. He also provides ICT-training within the regular curricula of Bangui University.
- A nutritionist works with the World Food Programme (WFP) involved in a food for work and school meal programme; and
- One UN Volunteer with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) serves as a field officer in refugee protection and community service.
The Central African Republic's contribution to UN Volunteers
Nine Central Africans are serving abroad as UN Volunteers. Six support the UN missions in Eritrea, Timor-Leste and Sierra Leone in finance, information technology and telecommunications. One UN Volunteer works as a fleet manager for UNHCR in Guinea and one is serving in Chad as a reproductive health specialist, while the UN Volunteer Programme Officer in Burundi is from the Central African Republic.
Promotion of volunteerism
The UNV Country Office in the Central African Republic promotes volunteerism in a number of ways including lobbying the government to support volunteerism, hosting meetings with other voluntary organizations, sensitizing people on volunteerism, promoting volunteerism in the media, providing support to the country's national and local voluntary organizations, and recognizing the significance of International Volunteer Day (IVD) on 5 December.