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close this bookVolunteer Participation in Working with the Urban Poor (UNDP - UNV, 64 p.)
close this folderV. Principles and characteristics of volunteer use
View the documentFunctions and volunteers
View the documentQualities of VDWs
View the documentTeams
View the documentSkill requirements and experiences
View the documentSelection and placement process
View the documentAcculturation and language training process

Functions and volunteers

The needs and concerns of each particular urban low-income group vary widely. The appropriate role of VDWs, including UN Volunteers, likewise would be varied and multi-dimensional and include the promotion and strengthening of local organisations, as well as providing some degree of institutional, managerial and technical skills. The potential functions of VDWs are along the following lines:

- Organisers and Animators: In some cases, communities themselves have initiated and sustained projects entirely through their own efforts. In most other cases, however, external catalysing agents play an important role in initiating and consolidating the development process, or accelerating what otherwise would have taken much longer to evolve.

- Trainers: VDWs are especially useful as trainers, which involves imparting managerial, administrative and technical skills to CBOs as well as NGOs.

- Resource Mobilisers: As individuals whose mobility and access to networks makes them ideal resource persons, VDWs play a key role in assisting communities to obtain funding and other support for their projects, as well as secure access to services.

- Intermediaries: VDWs have an important intermediatory role to play in promoting communication and understanding between CBOs and governments, especially local governments. VDWs work with CBOs and NGOs in establishing links with international development agencies so that micro and macro level development schemes are more closely coordinated.

The roles described above would necessarily function at different levels. In order to operate effectively in an intermediatory capacity, for example, VDWs need to be involved with work at various levels -communities, municipalities and state - in different capacities.

- Community Level: At the community level, VDWs must work with, or through, existing CBOs and NGOs to carry out their functions as animators, organisers or trainers, as described above.

- Municipal Level: Because local governments are in a strategic position to assist low-income urban communities, VDWs could play a key role in developing links between these levels. In addition, VDWs may assist municipal level governments in building capacity to effectively complement community-based self-help initiatives. This assistance could emphasise skills in mobilisation of resources and organisation in providing for needs and concerns to improve the current ad-hoc manner of distributing scarce and inadequate services.

- State Level: At the State level, it is important to work towards creating a policy environment conducive to meeting the needs and concerns of communities. VDWs could assist in building capacity to provide basic services and extend infrastructure support to low-income urban communities. This could involve a traditional role for VDWs, in technical cooperation schemes, or an advocacy role, in sensitising governments to the needs of communities and ways to develop policies and programmes as required.