Keeping a watchful eye

Harare, Zimbabwe: People are at their most vulnerable when they are on the move. To inform decision-making on how to assist people in Zimbabwe, a UNV volunteer is helping to keep track of migrant populations.

Sizable population relocations, both within Zimbabwe and to neighbouring South Africa, took place after political violence during Zimbabwe’s 2008 elections. The migrants often need food and transportation assistance, basic health care and advice about HIV/AIDS, plus access to information about how the international community can help them.

Priscila Valle is a UNV volunteer Statistician with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Her main task is to support information management under the IOM’s Emergency Assistance Programme for Mobile and Vulnerable Population.

The Emergency Assistance Programme coordinates targeted assistance to mobile and vulnerable populations in cooperation with UNDP, the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and several international donors.

“Data management processes help us to understand the main demographic characteristics of these populations,” explains Ms. Valle, “to plan the type of assistance people and the resource assignment for the main needs.”

She also notes that knowing demographic characteristics helps the mission plan special assistance for women. For example, the Migration Health Unit needs relevant information to carry out Gender-Based Violence assistance.

Better information management system means that all decision-making process within the organization benefit, she continues. From the people in the field to the management level of the mission, all levels need timely and consistent data to help keep the mission running smoothly,” she says.

Information management is not just about technology either, she says, it’s also about taking a strategic view and understanding people and their actions. “It’s a way of transmitting and understanding the “raison d’être” of any organization through figures and simple terms,” adds the Costa Rican national, who previously worked in logistics at computer company Hewlett Packard.

“I always wanted to plant my own seed to make a better world, and give back to others,” Priscila Valle comments on her decision to become a UNV volunteer. “My dream was to be in Africa – well, now here I am, in a country of beautiful people trying to contribute to making a better quality of life for them.”