The Trinidad scene: Monitoring and evaluation for UNDP
by Viviana Maria Salsi
Port of Spain, Trinidad: When they told me that I would work in Trinidad and Tobago as a UNV volunteer intern in Monitoring and Evaluation, I asked myself two questions. Where is Trinidad and Tobago? What is Monitoring and Evaluation? I landed in Port of Spain on a sunny day last February and I started searching for my answers…
Upon my arrival I was immediately integrated in this small and vibrant UNDP office, where I could observe and take part in different aspects of development work. Little by little I began to understand what was expected of me as a Monitoring and Evaluation intern.
The work aims at strengthening the capacity of the UN system in general, and the UNDP office in particular, to implement their programmes in Trinidad and Tobago. In practice, this means following virtually every UNDP project, developing a comprehensive overview of the work of the UN system, and activating mechanisms to measure their impact.
One of the aspects of my job I like best is its flexibility. It has been easy for me to cross the borders of my assigned tasks and to extend my work to other fields that are close to my heart. For instance, given my human rights background I was allowed to be part of the UN task force to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to introduce a human-rights based approach in some of our projects and to participate to a national consultation to revise current HIV legislation according to human rights standards.
In addition, I also conducted thorough research on national legislation on the rights of asylum seekers, refugees and victims of human trafficking that will hopefully lead to new projects in the future.
What I do at the office complements and is complemented by what I learn every day out in the streets of Port of Spain. Since I arrived here I have tried to live this experience to the fullest by meeting people from across the entire spectrum of this society. The jargon, the myths, the rituals, from the street and from the elite. From the African, from the Indian, from the Syrian communities. From the international, from the artsy, from the underground 'scene'. The nightlife, the beach life, the cultural life. And of course the music, the flavours, the food. Experiencing all of this is helping me understand more and more about the fascinating culture of Trinidad and Tobago, and gain a better sense of the community that I am serving.
By now I have been here for little more than half a year. I think I understand where Trinidad is, what Monitoring and Evaluation means. Who knows what will happen in my five months left…
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