Across the world, UN Volunteers engage with development partners and local communities in working towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). With only five years to the 2015 deadline, volunteers will be critical catalysts in advancing progress towards these goals. Meet some of these volunteers, our ‘inspiration in action’ in the following stories.
UNV played a role in designing the MDG icons. UN Volunteer Dirk Hegmanns (Germany) was co-winner of the UNDP Administrator's Innovation and Commitment Award in 2005 for his work on them as part of an MDG outreach campaign in Brazil. The icons have been widely adopted, transcending language and culture to become the most-recognized global symbols of the eight MDGs.
To read more about the work of UN Volunteers, peace and development partners, and local communities, visit Annual Report 2009: Engaging Communities.
GOAL 1: ERADICATE EXTREME POVERTY AND HUNGER
Paolo Faberi (Italy), corporate volunteer in Ecuador
Paolo, a business administration expert, served as a corporate private sector volunteer in Ecuador. In partnership with UNV, Italian NGO Seniores Italia sends expert volunteers to reduce poverty in developing countries. Paolo helped the Nueva Vida Indigenous Women’s Association improve agricultural production and commercialize their products. “The lack of natural resources leads to poverty and food insecurity,” says Paolo. “Although people in Chimborazo province were good at vegetable-growing techniques, agricultural over-exploitation had diminished production, and they had little experience selling produce to generate income.” With improved business skills, many women are able to move out of poverty. “The results have been positive,” says Paolo, “And the women are determined.”
GOAL 2: ACHIEVE UNIVERSAL PRIMARY EDUCATION
Sara McGinty (Canada), serving in Lesotho
Sara is a UN Volunteer Education Officer working with the Distance Teacher Education Programme of the Lesotho College of Education. She reviews the curriculum of the teacher training programme and proposes improvements. As a result, the college is planning more life skills education, and is prioritizing educating primary students about HIV/AIDS. “I assess student teachers in the field and integrate their needs into the training programme,” Sara says. “Some asked for best practice examples, and UNICEF is now planning to film teachers and share as one of the training modules.” “I am not the usual volunteer,” Sara continues. “This assignment gave me an opportunity to work on the ground to strengthen a crucial educational programme.”
GOAL 3: PROMOTE GENDER EQUALITY AND EMPOWER WOMEN
Sara Rodríguez-Argüelles (Spain), working in Bolivia
Sara is a UN Volunteer working with UNIFEM in La Paz, Bolivia. She works on a project to prevent women from being deceived by trafficking networks. Sara advocates for women’s rights and sensitizes women leaders, who then volunteer to provide training and raise awareness among women in their communities. Sara also raises awareness of the standards of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. She works with UN entities, like the International Labour Organization, to provide vocational training for girls who have been victims of commercial sexual violence. “All of this constitutes a drop in the ocean," Sara says.
GOAL 4: REDUCE CHILD MORTALITY
Dr Aimé Namululi (Democratic Republic of Congo), working in Chad
Aimé is a UN Volunteer Health Coordinator with UNHCR in southern Chad. When new child refugees arrive, he determines their nutritional status and ensures they are vaccinated and treated for parasites and vitamin deficiency. “The primary cause of death among refugee children under five from the Central African Republic was measles,” Aimé says. Local children had to walk 40 kilometres to the nearest health centre. Dr Aimé and his team opened a new health centre in the village of Beureh, near two refugee camps. Between 2006 and 2009, the general malnutrition rate fell from 10 per cent to below 5 per cent. “I saw that we could provide better health services to the whole community,” he explains. “In the new centre, healthcare is provided to both refugee and local children – what’s more, it’s a way to bring these populations together.”
GOAL 5: IMPROVE MATERNAL HEALTH
Chonghee Choi (Republic of Korea), working in Nepal
Chonghee is a UN Volunteer Community Health Coordination Officer with UNFPA in Nepal. She monitors and evaluates the Female Community Health Volunteer (FCHV) programme, through which around 50,000 women volunteers are improving maternal health in rural areas. Chonghee provides technical advice and analyses results and budget utilization. Chonghee is helping roll out training for the female community health volunteers. This enables them to share their knowledge with communities, gain income generation skills, and better access Government funding. “Women in rural Nepal suffer from high maternal mortality and low access to health services,” says Chonghee. “I feel very proud to work with these volunteers who are making a difference.”
GOAL 6: COMBAT HIV/AIDS, MALARIA & OTHER DISEASES
Tunda Omondi, national UN Volunteer in Botswana
Tunda is a national UN Volunteer engaged in community capacity enhancement in Botswana, which has one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the world. Tunda encourages local dialogue about HIV/AIDS and stigma, and supports policy formulation. In Kgalagadi District, Tunda formed Gae la Ngwao (Home of Culture) for unemployed youth to disseminate information about HIV/AIDS through theatre. Tunda also assisted community members in forming a support group called Tsaakgatho (Take a Step) for people living with HIV/AIDS. “I help people unearth their capabilities and look into available resources within themselves,” says Tunda. “Through community conversations, people are empowered to identify their concerns s and come up with solutions without external influence.”
GOAL 7: ENSURE ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
Rao Venkata Rama Rao (India), working in Zambia
In Zambia, erratic rainfall and drought have compelled farmers to shift from unprofitable crop farming to environmentally-damaging charcoal production. Through the Asia Youth Volunteer Programme, UNV enables experts from Asia to improve sustainable agriculture and long-term food security in Africa, together with national UN Volunteers. Rao, a UN Volunteer Agriculture Development Specialist, introduced sustainable practices in Choma. For example, the community now makes organic fertilizer with earthworms and irrigates fields using captured rainwater. “When we first demonstrated the use of biogas converters to replace cutting firewood, the surprise and happiness of the women gave me immense satisfaction,” he says. “I was proud to be helping the environment and sparing the women some of their hard labour.”
GOAL 8: DEVELOP A GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR DEVELOPMENT
Carlos Mayans (Spain), serving in India
Carlos, an ICT Development Assistant in Kolkata, India, is a university volunteer who works in close collaboration with Cisco Networking Academy. UNV university volunteer programmes enable young volunteers to contribute to development for up to six months. Through a separate UNV partnership with Cisco Systems initiated in 2001, over 110 national UN Volunteers have facilitated increased access to ICT skills and knowledge benefitting individuals and communities in over 40 countries. Carlos helped the Uddami NGO establish a Cisco Local Academy and provide specially-adapted computer training for students with hearing impairments. “People with disabilities have difficulty accessing opportunities,” says Carlos. “We tackled this obstacle by working in a global partnership for social change. We are helping them become economically independent citizens – of this city, of this country and of the world.”
VOLUNTEERING ONLINE FOR THE MDGs
“I admire the solidarity amongst online volunteers,” says online volunteer Ancilla Irwan (Indonesia). “We volunteer for different reasons, but we have the same goal. It is great to volunteer for the MDGs; for all people to cooperate for a better world.” Ancilla was one of 60 online volunteers from 16 countries supporting the outreach activities of the Target MDGs Programme. This joint initiative of UNDP and the Indonesian National Development Planning Agency aims to accelerate progress towards the achievement of the MDGs. University volunteer Daniela Jines (Bolivia) is a Public Governance Associate responsible for communications with Target MDGs. She involved online volunteers in developing communication tools to engage communities in advocating for the MDGs. The volunteers redesigned and translated the website, researched and wrote articles, created presentations and produced a video. “Everyone was extremely committed,” Daniela says. “So we ended up doing much more than we had initially planned.”
MDGs around the world
MDGs are used across the UN family and by many NGOs, governments and individuals taking action around the world. To show their universal use, many countries and continents have made various displays about the eight MDGs. Below are a few examples of this work. Learn more about the MDGs.
- 8 Goals for Africa video
- MDGs in Egypt
- 'Latin' MDGs