Around the world, United Nations volunteers contribute to the fight against poverty, highlighting their commitment and expertise in several areas: food assistance, access to development opportunities, resilience building against climate shocks, etc.
In Benin, West Africa, United Nations volunteers are also involved on the ground in helping the vulnerable populations, through the successful implementation of community development projects.
Rachelle Kassouhuin (Community Development Specialist, Gender & Income Generating Activities) and Benoîte Da-Sylva (Local Governance Specialist) are working as UNVs with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Benin (Poverty / Inclusive Growth Unit), as part of the implementation of the Common Millennium Project of Bonou for Sustainable Development (PCM-Bonou).
In their daily tasks they provide support to ensure food security for vulnerable populations, about 44,430 inhabitants, including young people and women, by increasing agricultural production, building food reserves and educating about nutritional practices.
Thanks to her efforts, Benoîte Da-Sylva allowed accessibility of drinking water to a school of 150 schoolchildren, accessibility of drinking water to over 200 households by tricycle. She succeeded in sensitizing 44,000 men and women on registration of civil status and withdrawal of acts. 2000 beneficiaries received their birth certificates free of charge. Also, 30 women have been empowered on entrepreneurship from water resource through IWRM.
UNV Rachelle Kassouhuin has been instrumental in the economic integration of women workers through training in Income Generating Activities in Bonou (transformation of peanuts into galettes and by-products, preparation of donuts and cheese).
She helped women to increase their production capacity, to improve the quality of products that have become competitive, highly sought after in the urban market and even exported to the Nigerian market.
Beneficiaries say they feel better about their health and provide less physical effort in carrying out their new activities.
The fulfillment of my mission as UNV takes place in a context of total integration with the community, sharing their living conditions. This facilitates my mission to fight against poverty - Rachelle Kassouhuin.
UNV Rachelle Kassouhuin during Peanut processing into slabs and derivatives by women workers. @UNV 2018
Volunteering for development in Niger
Niger (western Africa) is one of the poorest countries in the world. The country is a crossroads of migration exposed to security threats and food shortage due to terrorism and climate disasters.
103 UN Volunteers are currently working with different UN partners in 8 regions across the country, including Agadez*. Among them is Lena Edouard, a UN Volunteer in Governance assigned to UNDP Niger.
Her role as an international UNV is to assist the implementation of the Nigerien Development Plan 2017-2021, including capacity development in terms of monitoring and evaluation of the progresses made.
In her view, the most special experience is her attendance to the Cure Salée, an annual event near Agadez, (North of Niger)
During this major event in the agro-pastoral world that brings together for three days hundreds of breeders from Niger and the region, she successfully managed awareness-raising activities for many young people interested by the UNV programme.
One of the activities consisted in asking the participants to identify the sectors where they think UN Volunteers can contribute to remote rural communities. The rural world, agriculture and sanitation stand as the top three areas of intervention where UNVs can make a difference.
UNV Program wanted to use the opportunity of the Cure Salée to inform and arouse the interest of participants to the activities of the United Nations Volunteers Program. About 400 visitors visited the UNV stand on the 2 first days. This experience made me understand that any piece of contribution counts, and that ultimately the accumulation of all the efforts worldwide eventually lead to important steps towards a better world – says Lena Edouard
*Agadez (North of Niger) is a transit area for many immigrants from West Africa.