Kinshasa, Tuesday 25 August 2015 – It’s a slightly particular week here in Kinshasa because from 24 to 28 August, the UNICEF DRC Office is hosting a Pre-Deployment Preparation Training course for its nine United Nations young volunteers who are about to begin their activities in ten of the eleven former provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Their main mission? To evaluate and report back on the impact of UNICEF programmes throughout the whole country.
Who are United Nations Youth Volunteers (UNYVs)?
The more general United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme was established quite a while back, in 1971. But the Programme’s “Youth” component was only recently conceived, in 2012, with the aim of truly valorising the role of youth throughout UNV Programme activities.
The UNV Programme allows young professionals, often recently graduated, to acquire or enhance their experience in the field of international development within various United Nations agencies, but also to promote volunteering in this area so as to support peace and development.
Volunteering is often associated with international aid, a characteristic of which is solidarity between and toward the numerous stakeholders in the area. United Nations Youth Volunteers (UNYVs) play a vital role in promoting volunteering, thanks in part to their determination and enthusiasm.
During his opening speech on Monday 24 August, Mr. Alfredo Teixeira, Deputy Country Director for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) stated that the various ways in which volunteering is expressed “originate from the desire to contribute to the common good” and that “the commitments we make influence our lives and, even more importantly, those of the people […] with whom we are brought to work with.”
A pilot project in terms of decentralising the monitoring and evaluation of United Nations programmes
The UNYV Programme is the first of its kind because it concerns, over practically the entirety of Congolese territory, nine young international professionals who, located at a provincial level, each carry out decentralised monitoring of UNICEF Health and Education programmes (in light of the Improved Monitoring for Action mechanism – MAA) and offer widespread support to UNICEF teams in the field.
The stake is twofold in that UNICEF will benefit from the flow of information right to its central point in Kinshasa and the UNYVs will benefit from the activities by reinforcing their monitoring and evaluation skills.
In the long run, this model of the Programme could be reproduced in other countries that could benefit from decentralised monitoring and evaluation of field activities, often owing to significant geographical space as it is the case for DRC.
Young professionals in the field to report back to Kinshasa on UNICEF activities in DRC
The UNYVs, individually deployed to each of the country’s provinces with the exception of Maniema Province, will monitor and evaluate UNICEF’s programmes in these provinces. UNYVs are therefore intermediary agents between the implementation of activities and future efforts to improve these same activities.
It is essentially a way of measuring progress and correcting mistakes so as to guarantee the quality of United Nations programmes by amending action plans or compensating for voids left by national mechanisms, in terms of data for example.
UNYVs represent strong added value for UNICEF because they are physically present in the field of programme implementation which allows for direct contact with relevant actors, key in terms of maximisation of the efficiency of these youth’s actions.
The Pre-Deployment Preparation Training course
Over the five days of the Training course, the UNYVs, most of whom have only just been recruited, will be sensitised as to their commitment as volunteers and as to their role as monitoring and evaluation officers in their respective provinces.
Jointly organised by UNICEF, UNDP and the UNV Programme (including one UNV and one UNYV), the UNYVs will attend theoretical lectures, carry out group work and receive feedback from current and former volunteers.
The Training will be delivered by speakers from various United Nations bodies such as UNICEF, UNDP and MONUSCO with the aim of providing the young professionals with a solid overview of actions that are taking place in DRC.
Axelle Fidelin, who is in charge of coordinating the UNYVs from DRC’s capital, Kinshasa, emphasised the particularity of the programme in that “it allows a group of nine youth from different backgrounds to get a first taste of work in the “field” and to develop their programme monitoring skills in a proactive way.”
Translated from French by Eleanor Hac
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Eleanor Hac is the current (Jun-Oct 2015) InfoCom intern at UNICEF DRC and manages the Office's social networks but also this very blog! She has a legal academic background and is passionate about advocating for children's rights with the aim of reaching the right people in the right way. She particularly enjoys working with Young Reporters who defend their own rights.
Eleanor Hac est l'actuelle stagiaire InfoCom de l'UNICEF RDC et elle est chargée de la gestion des réseaux sociaux du Bureau mais aussi celle du blog Po na Bana même ! Elle possède une formation juridique et se passionne pour le plaidoyer en faveur des droits des enfants dans le but d'atteindre les bonnes personnes de la bonne manière. Elle apprécie particulièrement le travail avec les Enfants Reporters, défenseurs de leurs propres droits.
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