Are you keen on or interested in the work that volunteers do? The second draft of the Zimbabwe National Volunteer Strategy will bring you up to speed on how the government seeks to standardise as well as coordinate and support volunteering. Read on to get insights on volunteerism in Zimbabwe!
Volunteer involvement is a critical part of Zimbabwean society. It contributes to community life and active participation in building strong, inclusive, and resilient communities. It underlies innovation and social change, our responses to community need and community challenges, and it brings together and supports the local strengths and assets of communities. Volunteerism offers an opportunity for volunteers to be involved in activities showing their interests and using their skills. Meaningful activity in turn promotes a sense of belonging and general wellbeing. Volunteering can also be a way to develop skills, possible opportunities to employment, or a method to contribute current skills for the public good.
Volunteer involvement is a two-way relationship, providing an opportunity for organisations to achieve their goals by involving volunteers in their activities, and for volunteers to make meaningful use of their time and skills, contributing to social and community outcomes. In Zimbabwe both formal (taking place within organisations in a structured way, including institutions and agencies). UNV, States of the World Report 2015 defined Formal volunteering as organized through formal organizations and usually requires volunteers to work to organizational agendas, where the terms and conditions of volunteering are laid out within policies and structures for volunteering, and their work and contribution are measured against the targets set for the organization using organizational indicators. According to UNV, 2015, the range of formal volunteering is wide and includes employee volunteering in the private sector, volunteering within CSOs as well as participation in government volunteer schemes. While, informal volunteering (takes place outside an organisational setting). UNV, 2015, states that Informal volunteers range from those without literacy to educated people who work without legal protection and often with minimal training; they often learn on the job. The evidence suggests that those who start volunteering informally in their communities, schools and hospitals learn new skills of organizing, participating and raising awareness and that this learning enables some to go on to enter new and more formal spaces to lobby, to represent the community and the women or people with disabilities and to ask for their voices to be heard and their rights respected.
According to UNV, 2015, Africa is a continent of growth and one of vibrant volunteerism primarily based on long held values that underpin the concept of volunteerism in the region. “Elements of the philosophy of Ubuntu, common throughout southern Africa, are found in many traditions around the world. Ubuntu values the act of caring for one another’s well-being in a spirit of mutual support. It is based on recognition of human worth, communal relationships, human values and respect for the natural environment and its resources.” Traditionally volunteerism has filled many gaps in service provision for poor people, and much volunteering is done by the poor for the poor. Most volunteering in Africa is informal. Volunteerism is strong in east and southern Africa and parts of west Africa. Two areas that have been especially strong across the continent have been work on HIV/AIDS, and movements promoting women’s rights. (UNV, SWVR, 2015).
Volunteers commit their valuable time to make a difference to the lives of Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable groups. This is a clear way to demonstrate how volunteerism is playing a fundamental part in the support of societies. Even though volunteers give their time freely, with no desire for gain, volunteerism is not for free. To manage and develop the work volunteers do; resources are required. Around the globe, we have witnessed a growing interest and increased efforts by Governments and Volunteer Involving organisations to better manage and support their valuable volunteers. Zimbabwe is taking volunteering development more seriously than ever before, therefore it has pledged to establish a good volunteer management system to suit the situation of the country. The situational analysis findings indicate that volunteers in Zimbabwe are the nation’s strength. They are what defines most volunteer organisations and what makes them unique developmental organisations in the country. Therefore, one of the focuses of MoYSAR, ZYC, UNV, VSO and Higherlife, is on supporting the volunteers and giving them the tools and resources, they need to meet the high demands and expectations that volunteer organisations, the donors and recipients need. Zimbabwe having recognized the value of volunteerism, it has set up to develop National Volunteer strategy, which will govern and measure the operations of the volunteer sector. The development of a first national volunteering strategy, 2021-2025 by MoYSAR, UNV, ZYC, VSO and Higherlife represents an important step towards developing a coherent understanding of the role and value of volunteers. This strategic plan is designed to guide the volunteer sector toward a sustainable, thriving future.
Several countries from global, and regional have taken an initiative to formulate legislations/frameworks related to volunteerism. Sweden, Peru, Brazil, Australia, Zambia, Kenya, and South Africa have made great strides in coming up with volunteer Frameworks which are coordinating all their volunteer activities. These frameworks are helping nations to advocate for volunteer’s interests, establish national standards for volunteer programs, produce guides to help voluntary organisations reach world required standards. It is against this background that the Government of Zimbabwe wants to come up with its national volunteer strategy.
There are many definitions of volunteering used nationally and internationally by government departments, VIO, ILO. The Government of Zimbabwe will use the following definition which states that ‘volunteering is time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain’. This definition includes both formal and informal volunteering
When volunteering, people voluntarily provide their time through participation in their local community in a wide range of ways, such as:
- Community education and learning activities
- Environmental groups
- Community support groups
- Community and political groups
- Organised social groups
- Collective community actions
- Community events, festival, and celebrations
- Organised sport, recreation, and leisure activities
- Organised groups such as church, community, or professional groups
- Parental participation in schools and children’s activities
- Social entrepreneurship
- Corporate volunteering
- Episodic and spontaneous volunteering (e.g. emergency assistance)
- Service delivery (e.g. individuals giving to or supporting recipients)
- Decision-making (e.g. advisory committees)
- Virtual (online) volunteering
Benefits and value of volunteering
Volunteering is a great way for people to get involved in the community and make a positive contribution. In addition, to the satisfaction of helping for the benefit of others, there are many reasons people volunteer. The benefits of volunteering are significant for our nation, for our local communities and for individuals. The benefits are economic, social, cultural, and environmental.
Volunteers play a significant role in local communities across the country. Zimbabweans contribute their time, energy, and expertise in many sectors, but particularly in the community development, education, religion, and sport sectors. Volunteers’ assistance during natural disasters and pandemics is crucial, as is their contribution to the arts and environmental sectors. Volunteer Efforts report reveals that volunteerism in Zimbabwe has equipped over 3,585 youth with employability skills through self-help groups, micro – entrepreneurship trainings and other skills development programs which has greatly complemented the labour market in Zimbabwe and directly contributed to the country’s GDP, peace and development hence contributing to SDG 8 (Volunteer Efforts Contribution Report, VSO,2020).
Read the full draft strategy here (793KB PDF)
Source: Government of Zimbabwe