Volunteering amidst a pandemic – Enabling evidence-based governance remotely
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme and UN Development Programme (UNDP) are collaborating to digitally support country offices in assessing the impact of COVID-19. The pandemic has intensified the need to adapt to technology and embrace new ways of working. Volunteering is no different.
COVID-19 has intensified the need to adapt to technology and embrace new ways of working. Volunteering is no different. To scale up its response to the pandemic, UNDP's Crisis Bureau initiated a partnership with UNV earlier this year that allows rapid deployment of subject-area experts remotely.
Hamed Sambo and Ulises Munguia have since been supporting CB’s Integrated Digital Assessments project. Through their work, they are helping country offices evaluate the impact of COVID-19, especially on vulnerable groups.
Hamed, a national of Benin, is a Paris-based development economist. Part of a globally-dispersed team of UN Volunteers and UNDP staff, Hamed primarily assists country offices in Africa and the Middle East.
Through innovative assessments across various socio-economic dimensions, we facilitate taking evidence-based decisions for country offices to tackle the adverse impacts of the pandemic. --Hamed Sambo, UN Volunteer
Hamed's day starts with a Zoom call to discuss the goals for the day and ends with another to debrief. "Some country offices want to learn how COVID-19 is impacting the tourism industry. Others want to understand the impact on the informal sector. We have to tweak the surveys and come up with plans accordingly," Hamed said, while presenting his experience at a recent UNV event marking International Volunteer Day.
Ulises Munguia, Hamed’s fellow volunteer, primarily supports the survey needs of UNDP country offices in Latin America. A national of Nicaragua and social researcher by training, Ulises has a specialization in survey design and quantitative research methods. By volunteering for UNDP, he has been able to support several country offices in a short period of time.
"The fact that we have so many requests coming in from all over the region means that we are providing a much-needed service,” he says. Ulises misses being in the field and interacting with his colleagues in-person but appreciates the opportunity of collaborating with experts from all over the globe.
I find it exciting how remote volunteering allows for a really diverse team without having to be in the same place. --Ulises Munguia, UN Volunteer with UNDP
Apart from being remote, another highlight of their work is the end-to-end digital assessments that provide insights in real time. "The surveys are digital and rapid. Previously, we had to collect the information on a form, then go back to the office and upload the data on a computer. Here you can review the results in real time," Hamed explains.
Through their research, Hamed and Ulises want to lift the living standards of vulnerable people and help them fight crisis. The collaboration between UNV and UNDP is allowing them to contribute to just that.