While the role of the United Nations in world affairs is the subject of much debate and research, little empirical evidence exists regarding the effectiveness of the work of the United Nations in the economic and social fields. The purpose of Development Cooperation in Practice: The United Nations Volunteers in Nepal is to start filling the gap created by the lack of in-depth assessments of the achievements and performance of the UN in these fields.
The development cooperation efforts of the United Nations provide the overall context for the book, which focuses on one particular UN programme, the UN Volunteers programme, in one country, Nepal, over a ten-year period (1987-96). The study shows that assessments of the achievements and performance of the UN in the economic and social fields are possible and worthwhile undertakings — notwithstanding methodological difficulties and a considerable amount of time and resources needed to assess even a small UN programme.
Joel Rehnstrom’s research demonstrates that individuals such as the UN Volunteers can make a difference and that the United Nations, through these individuals, can contribute to economic development. The author concludes that at a time of persistent and even growing gaps between the rich and the poor, UN programmes — such as the Volunteers programme — have an important role to play. In-depth assessments of the kind presented in Development Cooperation in Practice provide a useful aid in determining this role. While this volume deals specifically with the UN Volunteers programme, it also contains lessons and insights that can be used in assessing the work of other UN programmes, funds and agencies.
Joel Rehnstrom currently works as a Monitoring and Evaluation Adviser for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in Geneva, Switzerland. He has previously worked with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Bhutan, Pakistan and Yemen, and the headquarters of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in Geneva. Dr Rehnstrom holds graduate degrees in education, public administration and international relations from the Abo Akademi in Finland as well as Harvard and Tufts Universities in the United States.