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close this bookVolunteer Participation in Working with the Urban Poor (UNDP - UNV, 64 p.)
close this folderAnnex: Excerpts from background papers
View the documentUrban development policy issues and the role of united nations volunteers
View the documentWorking with the urban poor: lessons from the experience of metropolitan Lagos, Nigeria
View the documentBrief account of my experience as a DDS field worker and a UNV in Sri Lanka and Jamaica
View the documentSpecial consultation on volunteer participation in working with the urban poor

Brief account of my experience as a DDS field worker and a UNV in Sri Lanka and Jamaica

Excerpts from paper presented by: Hassan Momin, UNV/UNICEF, Kingston, Jamaica, September 1990

"The participatory processes at the grass roots level are not universal, nor can they be understood using a preconceived theoretical framework. These processes are dependent on local conditions, availability of resources, nature of society, and the knowledge, attitude and practice of the people. They differ from community to community, country to country and region to region...."

"Entry into community involves gaining acceptance, learning and understanding local modes of organisation and local forms of communication and building rapport with community members. In South Asia, one can gain entry through existing associations or organisations no matter whether it is a rural or urban community. Any stranger can walk into a community at any time without causing any disturbance. But in Jamaica there are no visible structured associations or organisations in the communities.... It is very important to understand existing modes of organisation and forms of communication...."

"In the early stage of the Urban Basic Services project implementation in Jamaica, the project team gained access through political leadership. But very soon they realised that the introduction of the project by political cadre was viewed by the people as encouraging patronage. A momentum was maintained as long as the project staff, through project funds, delivered benefits. In late 1987 and early 1988, when the project was partly reorganized the earlier efforts failed to sustain the activities initiated. A Production Centre established earlier in the community was demolished by the same members of the community when the project stopped delivery of benefits. The important point, therefore, is not only who introduces the project or activity but how one introduces it. There should be longer 'lead in' time and 'tarmac bias' should be avoided."

"Mobilisation: After entering a Jamaican ghetto it is very difficult to gain support and more importantly sympathy for the activities because of multiple patronage systems. Sympathy is more important than support. Gaining sympathy is nothing but internalising the developmental process in day to day life of the people. Most women in the urban ghettos in Jamaica lack self esteem. If one could help them to gain self esteem, pride and confidence, one can rest assured that change is imminent. This is possible only if we invest our personal efforts and demonstrate a positive attitude. Mere introduction of project strategies from time to time will not solve the problems. When a DDS Field Worker stays in a community for sometime, he/she appreciates what people do, learns how they do it and communicates with them in their own ways. This way the field worker can easily help to gain sympathy and understanding among the local community, and once it is gained it will remain forever. The greatest strength of the DDS Programme has been gaining of sympathy at the grass roots level for proposed change...."