Fostering regional integration and development through volunteerism in East Africa

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The Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, Mr. Olivier Adam, has today begun his visit to the East Africa countries of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

He is accompanied by UNV Regional Manager for the East and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO), Mr. Njoya Tikum, Mr. Adam shall meet with government representatives, UN Volunteers and partners in the region.

The East African countries continue to show interest in leveraging volunteerism for development, with Kenya already having a national volunteer policy in place. However, to be most effective, volunteers often require support from wider, more formalized structures. The mission by Mr. Adam therefore aims to galvanize increased support and recognition for the integration of volunteers in development programming in the region.

According to Mr. Adam, Volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in promoting individual and collective action, leading to sustainable development for people by people.”

A total of 1,422 onsite UN Volunteers served in 2018 in the broader Eastern African region, with 399 of them serving in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. These volunteers serve in different areas of development, humanitarian and peace-building assignments. Kenya is also the highest UN Volunteers’ sending country globally, with 325 Kenyans currently serving as UN Volunteers in different countries across the world.

Working closely with UNV in the region, the Africa Union (AU) and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) have also developed volunteer programmes to help tackle regional development challenges. These sub-regional exchanges of volunteers help enhance increased south-south exchange of development experiences and fast track the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and AU’s Agenda 2063.

During his visit, the UNV Executive Coordinator will meet senior Government and UN officials in Tanzania to appraise the engagement of UN Volunteers in various programmes. He will also visit Uganda, where the government launched the Graduate Volunteers Scheme (GVS) last year with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNV. The GVS scheme aims to create employment avenues for young graduates while building the capacity of national institutions and private sector to minstream youth employment into their work.

The programme has so far trained more than 300 graduates and successfully placed 93 in 22 public and private host institutions. While in Kenya, Mr. Adam is expected to visit the Kakuma refugee camp where UNV has been working with the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR on a refugee resilience project for almost 2 years now. He will also give a lecture at Mount Kenya University and discuss partnerships with the University towards engagement of the University’s students as UN University Volunteers.

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