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close this bookVolunteer Participation in Working with the Urban Poor (UNDP - UNV, 64 p.)
close this folderIV. Programming concerns for VSAs and UNV
View the documentGuidelines for involvement
View the documentSuccess criteria for volunteer involvement
View the documentTaking the initiative
View the documentFlexibility
View the documentMeeting personnel and associated needs
View the documentChannels of operation
View the documentUnited Nations Agencies and their partners
View the documentFunding and other programme concerns


Working with low-income urban communities is a complex endeavour which demands patience and the ability to work on a long-term basis. The objectives of community-based work are to evoke processes of development which strengthen group formation and collective solidarity, build skills over many phases, and utilise indigenous resources at a pace set by the communities themselves. Participatory work is not the kind of activity which fits into the typical bureaucratic, aid organisational behaviour, where projects - well-defined in time and scope - are expected to yield quantitative results within a relatively short period of three to five years. If the whole exercise is to be truly led by the local communities, then its direction, its procedure and rate of progression will be unpredictable, and VSA sponsors will have to accept all the implications of that underlying uncertainty and transfer of control. Flexibility should be built into projects. In some cases, budget expenditure forecasts may have to be scaled down. Genuine community-based processes have little chance of survival, let alone sustainability, by having large amounts of money, or other resources, "thrown at them" rather, communities should develop the ability to target sources of resources themselves.