Spirit of volunteering in Africa

The spirit of volunteering in Africa is often underpinned by cultural notions of belonging, togetherness and caring for one another and extends beyond formal programmes to include informal actions of mutual aid and support. Such forms of volunteering in Africa are not well documented. In September 2012, the Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA) at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), within the Faculty of Humanities embarked on an African volunteering review.​

The initiative was requested and funded by the Swedish Red Cross and forms part of a larger initiative of understanding volunteering in Africa, which included four in-country studies in Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Uganda and Sudan. The CSDA component of the study gave rise to a background paper for Volunteering in Africa which provided a conceptual framework for understanding volunteering, explained the context within which volunteering occurs and outlined how local and global contexts, as well as civil society arrangements shape volunteer trends and profiles.

This is the first time a comprehensive overview of volunteering trends across the continent has been undertaken. The paper was presented at a 3 day workshop at the UJ Soweto campus which included participants from the Swedish Red Cross and eight African National Societies of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, as well as Dr Michael Charles from the International Federation of the Red Cross from 10-12 October 2012. The findings of the background paper and that of in-country studies conducted by the Swedish Red Cross were presented at the Pan African Conference from the 19-22 October 2012 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and will be available in final form later this year.


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