|Volunteer Participation in Working with the Urban Poor (UNDP - UNV, 64 p.)|
During the Special Consultation meeting in 1990, the need for greater inter-agency collaboration in the area of urban poverty became a key discussion point, as it was evident that joint programming efforts would present a stronger, more effective response than previous isolated activities. Since then, UNV has embarked on collaborative programming efforts with the UN Centre for Human Settlements UNCHS (HABITAT) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), with the support of UNDP, to develop a joint "package" to address some of the effects of urban poverty in developing countries.
Three years later, extensive preparatory assessment missions produced the Urban Poverty Partnership programme. The relative strength of UNCHS in enabling human settlements policies to improve the living environment in urban informal settlements; the expertise of ILO in employment promotion and policy formulation; as well as UNV's experience in community-based work, were combined in a coordinated programme response to the vast and varied concerns of urban low-income communities.
Eleven countries were targeted in the pilot phase of the HABITAT/ILO/UNV programme: four in Africa; two in Asia; three in Latin America; and one in Europe. These projects, which focussed primarily on the improvement of living conditions and expansion of employment opportunities, ranged from an urban development project in Namibia to resettle families from squatter areas, which is run in collaboration with urban CBOs, municipal councils and ministries; a solid waste recycling project in Uganda, largely working with a NGO; a project in Indonesia designed to assist in the decentralisation of infrastructure planning and implementation and thus extend and enhance the delivery of services; a project in Bolivia designed to strengthen local organisations' capacity to carry-out development programmes; to a project in Albania designed to assist in the privatisation of housing stock. Mixed teams of UN Volunteers, including International UNV Specialists, DDS Field Workers and community volunteers, were involved in the project design and implementation.
This programme presents a significant departure from past responses to urban poverty in that it combines the experience of three UN agencies with a view to integrating community initiatives into a sustainable support network on a continuous basis. This programme also presents a significant learning experience for all agencies involved. This is especially so for UNV in extending the breadth of volunteer types to meet development needs in the urban setting. The potential for volunteer participation in this area remains vast.
The 1995 Social Summit in Copenhagen emphasised the link between poverty eradication and sustainable development and called upon individuals, organisations and governments to work together to meet the growing demands of developing countries in this area. The Urban Poverty Partnership Programme has paved the way for joint organisational collaboration in addressing the long-term needs of low-income communities.