A woman sitting in a parked vehicle with an open door. She has a laptop on her lap while attaching a cable to a device fixed inside the vehicle.
UN Volunteer Eugene Musikohe (Kenya), resetting and downloading car log data during a transport workshop in Laayoune, Western Sahara.

Peacekeepers at heart: UN Volunteers serve for Western Sahara's future

In the quest for global peace, more than 1,300 UN Volunteers are currently serving with UN peacekeeping missions worldwide. They play pivotal roles in navigating nations through the arduous journey from conflict to peace. For the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, we shine a spotlight on the contributions of four international UN Volunteers within the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

Jean Bosco Bavuge embarked on his volunteering journey with MINURSO as a Water and Sanitation technician in 2021. Aiming to achieve efficiency and minimize risks, he facilitates the optimized utilization of natural resources.

Jean's expertise lies in designing effective water and wastewater treatment facilities, while ensuring compliance with international safety and environmental standards. He actively shares his extensive knowledge to strengthen his colleagues’ capacity, including military peacekeepers, in the realm of water and waste management.

A man receiving an award from a male uniformed soldier wearing a blue cap.

International UN Volunteer Jean Bosco Bavuge (right), receiving an appreciation award from United Nations Military Observers after restoring the borehole that supplies water to their team site. ©MINURSO, 2023

"Water is key to recovery and stabilization and eventually leads to peacebuilding," says Jean. "Therefore, without proper sewage treatment, water purification and usage control systems, there is no sustainable peace."

Another UN Volunteer, Vivian Njogu, serves as the mission’s Environment Officer. She also champions responsible practices within MINURSO. Recognizing the importance of ecological considerations in peacekeeping, Vivian evaluates and reduces the mission's footprint.

"Western Sahara is a harsh desert environment, with limited freshwater resources, high temperatures and vulnerability to desertification," notes Vivian. "These factors can hinder the mission’s operations, as well as the livelihoods of local communities," she explains.

The comprehensive environmental assessments Vivian conducts identify and mitigate risks, ensuring the safety of peacekeeping personnel and fostering environmental sustainability in the host community.

Eugene Musikohe, who volunteers as a Transport Assistant, also exemplifies MINURSO's commitment to improving operational efficiency and safety. With 17 years of military experience, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role. Eugene helps ensure safe, efficient and reliable ground transportation, by providing technical support, processing vehicle statistics and maintaining databases.

Alongside her colleagues in transport section, Eugene takes pride in having contributed to two key operations.

Within just two months of joining, I took part in a major ground convoy that conducted a vehicle swap/rotation operation in 2020 from Laayoune to Tindouf through the desert. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I took part in several logistics convoys to ensure sufficient stocks of supplies to remote team site locations east of the Berm. --Eugene Musikohe, UN Volunteer with MINURSO, Western Sahara

Acting as a bridge between UNV and MINURSO, Lydia Lewis looks after the well-being and performance of her fellow UN Volunteers. Serving as UNV Support Officer, she fosters a sense of belonging among volunteers deployed with MINURSO.

It is important to create an atmosphere of belonging, and one of the ways I do this is by fostering the buddy system and organizing social events where volunteers can get together and share experiences. --Lydia Lewis, UNV Support Officer, Western Sahara

Lydia’s dedication and availability result in equipping volunteers with the necessary resources and trainings to effectively fulfill their roles, and thus contribute to the peacekeeping mission’s mandate.
The contributions of UN Volunteers within MINURSO testify to the profound impact that peacekeepers can have in creating conditions for peace. Jean, Vivian, Eugene and Lydia’s efforts exemplify the commitment of UN Volunteers to help build a greener, safer and more sustainable future for Western Sahara. Their endeavors stand as a testament to the power of collective action in the most challenging contexts. Through their selfless contributions, they inspire us all to strive for a more harmonious and peaceful global community. Peace begins with all of us!