The critical role of volunteers as first responders in emergencies and crises was the topic of a side event that was held on 23 May on the sidelines of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. The panel discussion was jointly held by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Nadine Ruprecht, Programme Analyst at UNV, explains how the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme contributes to the efforts against climate change in the lead up to the Signing Ceremony of the Paris Agreement.
Harare, Zimbabwe: When Amy Wickham, an international UN Volunteer, joined the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) in Zimbabwe, she didn't know what to expect. Yet this experience changed her life. "The experience and exposure that I've got since I started as a volunteer has been phenomenal", she says. "The ownership that I've been given over the projects, as well as the time and responsibility that I've been given from professionals that I've worked with has been fantastic."
When Amy Wickham, an international United Nations Volunteer, signed up to work with UNICEF in Zimbabwe, she didn't know what to expect. Yet this experience changed her life. "The experience and exposure that I've got since I started as a volunteer has been phenomenal", she says. "The ownership that I've been given over the projects, as well as the time and responsibility that I've been given from professionals that I've worked with has been fantastic."
Katmandu, Nepal: My name is Hotrika Joshi and I am a national UN Volunteer Civil Engineer in Nepal. I am part of a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) demolition project which, has handled the damage assessment of 250 households, benefitting approximately 1,500 people.
In the Irkhu Village Development Committee area, a thousand more buildings need to be assessed and potentially torn down within the very first weeks, before the monsoon arrives.
Ankara, Turkey: Coming to Turkey in May 2013 has been literally my first experience as a UN Volunteer. No long preparation time after the final “go!”, just getting everything packed and saying (temporary) goodbyes. Of course I volunteered before. In my younger years, in my hometown in Germany, I was involved with environmental groups and the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA). I helped out at an association to integrate foreign students and promote cultural diversity at my university, doing a bachelor in forestry.
Volunteerism is a fundamental source of community strength and resilience that exists in all societies throughout the world. The role of volunteerism, in general, and mobilizing and managing volunteers, in particular, are important components of any disaster risk management strategy that aims at fostering community recovery, strength and resilience in vulnerable areas. In the last decade, almost one million people have been killed by disasters, many of them volunteers who were at the forefront of responding to emergencies, and more than one trillion dollars have been lost.
Manila, Philippines: My name is Alma B. Sevillano, I am from the Philippines and I work as a UN Volunteer for the Haiyan Response and Recovery programme.
Port-au-Prince, Haiti: My name is Francesca Pinna, I am a United Nations Volunteer in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Office in Haiti.
I never thought that I would get engaged in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). It happened by chance after the earthquake that hit the Italian city of Aquila in 2009. I understood what an unexpected natural disaster could really provoke and how much destruction could have been avoided through an adequate knowledge of disaster risks and appropriate preparedness.
Following the devastation of tropical storm Ida in November 2009, a unique, triangular South-South partnership was initiated with the governments of Brazil and El Salvador and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.