|Meeting the Humanitarian Challenge - UNV's Work Between Conflict and Development (United Nations Volunteers, 44 p.)|
|UNV humanitarian action in the field: Effort and impact|
UNVs working at the end of the aid delivery chain, such as Paul Cunnington in Phongsaly Province, a remote area of Laos, where he worked as a WFP Food aid monitor, have verified the relevance and effectiveness of aid provided. At times this revealed the existence of local coping mechanisms which were sometimes counter-productively disturbed or overwhelmed by inappropriate or oversupplied aid. Their feedback enabled adjustment and correction of humanitarian delivery policies and practices.
Following initial surveys of WFP's rice distributions, the UNV Specialist set up. an effective reporting system from the Phongsaly province to WFP and UNDP in Vientiane on the rice distribution activities in this area. Despite some lack of co-operation from District and Provincial authorities, the UNV specialist did his utmost to ensure that proper records were kept and that the villagers were trained so that rice could be distributed fairly. Furthermore, he encouraged and put pressure on local authorities to fulfil their duties as regards record-keeping and fair and proper distributions. He also supervised the establishment of effective rice banks.
UNVs often have the most delicate of negotiating tasks to perform at field level, trying to explain to local community officials the purposes of assistance being provided, as well as procedures by which they need to abide. The work may reveal corruption by local community leaders or officials, and that aid may not be reaching the intended beneficiaries. They may be drawn into involvement in overcoming local politics of exploitation of the most vulnerable groups. UNVs are in many cases in the front-line of the fight against localised petty corruption and profiteering.
Their work may also reveal inadequacy of record-keeping at village levels, and the need for parallel training of community officials newly responsible for stock management and distribution in times of emergencies which require commodity deliveries, including food. Today, UNV specialists constitute 40% of WFP's field personnel.
The work recently done by Khiem Bui (USA) and Thierry Rijckebusch-Flavingy (France) to upgrade refugee camp management as UNV Field Officers with UNHCR in Bassikounou, Mauritania, demonstrated that improved information and management systems in UN programmes enable better control, greater accountability and more efficient usage of relief materials, with better-focused impact on beneficiaries.