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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


The inter-sectoral nature of the many concerns of low-income urban communities implies that VDWs working in a single area of specialisation may only, at best, make a small contribution to meeting their needs. For interventions to be comprehensive and responsive, there must be a coordination of activities at local, municipal and national levels. The experience points to the synergistic process of linking activities in housing, health, education and income-generation at different levels. In situations where a VSA has decided to work through both government and non-government/community group delivery channels, a team approach may help to facilitate closer coordination and an improved understanding among the different levels and institutions involved.

A three-tiered structure of personnel support may function well in a variety of situations: local organisers from within a CBO or local NGO; VDWs; and more specialised or higher-level personnel from local governments, or from project teams supported by international aid agencies. In cases where immediate government links are not required, the three tiers could be the CBO, the NGO and the VSA.

VDWs should be fielded, therefore, not as individuals, but as members of a team, which could take on various forms:

- a team comprising a balance of external animators and professional-technical specialists, responding to an analysis of the situation, needs and potentials of the low-income urban communities; or

- a team comprising international VDWs operating in partnership with national VDWs from the cooperating NGOs or community groups, or in partnership with officers of cooperating government agencies.

Community volunteers, as individuals who are well-versed with the local landscape and well-endowed with the respect of local communities, would also be an integral part of these projects.