Marianna Carvalho’s efforts to improve road safety with UNAMID

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24 Sep 2012

Marianna Carvalho’s efforts to improve road safety with UNAMID

In 2009 Marianna Carvalho left the comfort of her work at the Office of Emergency Management of the City of New York to come to Darfur and fulfill her dream of becoming a UN Volunteer. Assigned as a Transport and Logistics Assistant for the Transport Section in the African Union – United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), she describes her experience in Darfur as a “strong hands-on approach to a very challenging scenario”.

A national of Brazil, Marianna grew up in the coastal city of Santos, near Sao Paulo, and for 18 years she was an active member of the Union of Boy Scouts. “Scouting encouraged me to achieve a deeper appreciation for service to others by providing me with a sense that I am important as an individual and at the same time I am a valuable element of my community”.

And these are all qualities that have proven of paramount importance for Marianna while living in Darfur, specifically serving for a peacekeeping mission.

With at least 1800 vehicles at UNAMID’s service only in El Fasher, North Darfur -this means an estimated 6000 to 7000 licensed drivers working for the Mission in this area-, Marianna has been up front working to promote road safety in UNAMID and make it a reality. “The main goals of this Road Safety project were to create awareness for prevention of road threats, to mitigate the vulnerability of different types of road users, to promote behavioral change towards the culture of defensive driving, to empower drivers to develop good driving routines, and to maintain road safety practices in the mission area”, explains Ms. Carvalho.

Marianna Carvalho (left) addresses the attendants of a road safety campaign in El Fasher. Photo by Albert González Farran

Thanks to her background in business, law, and a Masters degree in Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management, Marianna developed a strong focus on logistics planning and humanitarian relief; all of which drove her to be the first UN Volunteer to be temporarily assigned to the Board of Inquiry (BOI) Unit, to assist with the 2011-2012 caseloads.

She was nominated as one of the Transport Section focal points for Business Continuity in UNAMID, as part of an innovative strategy by United Nations Headquarters that used UNAMID as one of the pioneer missions to standardize implementation of continuity of operations and practices after natural and man-made disaster events.

“As a UN Volunteer in Darfur I also get back different types of rewards: when I check the accident statistics and see traffic violations and the average speed going down, when I see people being courteous while driving within UNAMID camps, when I hear the local traffic police quoting lessons from our encounters, these put a smile on my face”.

After 3 years of service as a UN Volunteer, Marianna left the Mission to conquer new horizons and achieve new goals; nevertheless, her contribution is still present in Darfur and hopefully will evolve into a local culture of good practices on the roads.

By Natalia Herrera Eslava