|Volunteer Participation in Working with the Urban Poor (UNDP - UNV, 64 p.)|
|IV. Programming concerns for VSAs and UNV|
Even though it is not possible to develop one strategy to guide VSA involvement in low-income urban areas, it is possible to identify some of the key conditions for such activity:
- Existence of a local CBO already engaged in some developmental initiative
- Mobilisation undertaken as a continuing process, both within the community to enlist participation, and externally to claim rights through negotiation or persistence. The acquisition and growth of a community's own awareness in its ability is fundamental to the process of development
- Favourable conditions in the public and parastatal institutions which can provide support to this process
- External agents who are prepared to commit themselves on a long-term basis
In the course of planning the intervention, it is important to acknowledge the diversity among groups found in low-income urban areas. To the greatest extent possible, interventions should be based on the initiatives taken by individuals, groups and communities themselves - supporting the principles of participation. In other words, interventions should be placed within a developmental framework, rather than be guided by a welfare outlook.
As detailed in the previous section, VSA involvement often places them in an intermediary role between community and state levels. Community-initiatives at the local level may be supported by CBOs and NGOs, but these initiatives tend to be scattered, isolated and rarely extend beyond the micro-level. To allow a more systematic response, links with the State through local and municipal authorities are required. It is here that VDWs can make their most effective contribution, operating at different, but inter-linked levels.
Interventions aimed at the state level should be tailored to meet particular needs, and focus on supporting the capacity of State agencies especially municipal government structures. Assistance would acknowledge government's frequent lack of adequate resources and relevant models for effective responses to the conditions of the low-income groups in the urban sector. Policies and enabling measures which support informal sector activities especially need encouragement. In working at the community-level, it is important that VDWs work through existing local leadership and organisational structures. VDWs, including UN Volunteers, do have significant contributions to make in strengthening this capacity and providing services, through a combination of intermediate level technical support channelled to government agencies, municipal authorities and NGOs, and animation and organisational work in support of NGOs and CBOs.