Photo: ©FAO/Olivier Asselin

Inspecting cabbage plants at a Farmer Field School in Thiaye, Senegal.

16 June 2017, Rome – Deepening ties between FAO and the United Nations Volunteers programme (UNV) should make opportunities to join the fight against hunger and rural poverty more accessible to young people as well as to experts who wish to contribute their time and skills.

Daniel Gustafson, FAO Deputy Director General and UNV Executive Coordinator Olivier Adam signed a Memorandum of Understanding today aiming at scaling-up their collaboration and making rapid deployments easier.  

The UNV fields around 6,600 UN Volunteers from more than 150 countries working with dozens of UN organizations and Peacekeeping Operations in more than 120 countries.  FAO currently has 17 UN Volunteers posted in Chad, Honduras, Mongolia, Viet Nam and a host of other duty stations.  

“Tapping the spirit and inclusive nature of volunteerism is vital in our fight against hunger and rural poverty,” said Gustafson. “FAO’s efforts to support countries in fostering resilience and sustainability will benefit greatly from the UN Volunteers’ contributions and skills.”

“UNV is delighted to deepen its already positive ties with FAO. UNV has a strong track record in poverty reduction, climate change and resilience, which underscores a strong complementarity with FAO,” said Adam. “Our UN Volunteers have an array of specializations that serve the Sustainable Development Goals and FAO’s five strategic objectives. I welcome this opportunity to expand our collaboration.”

UN Volunteers may be used in several technical areas such as agriculture, fishery, forestry, natural resources. Those UN Volunteers deployed with FAO are working in fields ranging from soil restoration to nutrition and youth engagement among other projects.

UN Volunteers: different stories, common goals

Firoj Ahmed, a native of Bangladesh assigned as UN Volunteer with FAO in Sudan, leads a detailed household survey designed to support a resilience-building programme.

Ahmed has been a UN Volunteer in Sudan for the past two years, where he also serves as the focal point for FAO Sudan’s Early Warning Early Action (EWEA) initiative.

Barbora Chmelova is a Czech citizen working in FAO’s Viet Nam office on how to make agricultural markets more inclusive.

For her, the upsides of working for FAO as a UN Volunteer consist of deepening her technical competencies as an agronomist on subjects such as climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, disaster preparedness and policy development, skills she channels towards the national staff she works with daily.

Working as UN Volunteer for FAO in Senegal is a key life step for Théo Martin, a recent graduate from France now working on a Farmer Field School outreach project.

“Agriculture is the intersection for a lot of key questions about society, climate change and economic modelling – agrarian issues may never have been as important as today,” he says.


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