| The NGLS handbook of UN Agencies, Programmes and Funds Working for |
|United nations volunteers (UNV)|
Since 1971, UNV has fielded 13,554 volunteers. Some 2500 UNV specialists and field workers are serving in 134 countries. About 74% are drawn from 95 developing countries and 26% from 31 industrialized ones; 70% are men and 30% are women.
UNVs are fully qualified and experienced professional men and women from 115 fields of work, and their average age is 40. They are usually practitioners who share their skills at the working level on a peer basis.
UNVs must have a first and/or postgraduate degree, or equivalent technical qualifications; they must also have a minimum of two, but preferably several years' working experience—the average is ten years. Offers of service from women and from retired personnel are particularly welcome. Contracts are usually for two years. with exceptions in humanitarian relief, democratization and human rights activities, and the United Nations Short-Term Advisory Resources (UNISTAR) programme.
UNVs receive a monthly living allowance of between US$700 and US$1100 a month, depending on the local cost of living. Sickness and accident insurance is provided, as is return airfare and a modest resettlement allowance. UNVs may be accompanied, and UNV will meet the costs of a maximum of three dependents. The host country customarily provides housing.
UNVs work in five main fields of activity: technical cooperation for development; facilitation of the development initiatives of communitybased organizations and NGOs; humanitarian relief and rehabilitation; peace building, including democratization and the promotion of human rights; and short-term international advisory resources for development of entrepreneurship (through the UNISTAR programme, recently merged with UNV).
Through participatory development programmes such as Domestic Development Services (DDS), UNV supports indigenous organizations that promote self-reliance in development through grassroots participation.
Since 1976, UNV has been a major operational unit for executing youth programmes, especially pilot projects that enhance the participation of youth in development activities.
Within its overall policy of promoting national execution, UNVs serve in government programmes assisted by UNDP and executed by UN agencies such as FAO, ILO, WFP, UNIDO, UNICEF, WHO, UNDP, UNHCR and UNESCO. Programmes may also be executed by developing country governments, or by UNV itself on behalf of governments, as well as with the initiatives of local communities.
Two-thirds of UNVs serve in the least developed, landlocked or island countries. Half are in Africa, a third in the Asia Pacific region, and the rest in the Arab world, Latin America and the Caribbean, Poland and the Commonwealth of Independent States.