UNV Regional Websites

UNV works in 150 countries and territories, deploying UN Volunteers to advance sustainable development at grassroots level. Explore our work in the different regions of the world.

East and Southern Africa
East and Southern Africa
West and Central Africa
West and Central Africa
Arab States
Arab States
Europe and the CIS
Europe and the CIS
Latin America
Latin America and the Caribbean
Asia and the Pacific
Asia and the Pacific
Some Volunteer Award recipients with UNV ESARO Regional Manager, Mr Njoya Tikum, UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Walid Badawi, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Ms Mandisa Mashologu and officials from the Kenyan Government.

IVD in East and Southern Africa: Volunteers unite for an inclusive future

Volunteers from across the East and Southern Africa region marked International Volunteer Day (IVD) on 5 December 2019 under the theme 'Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality'. The aim of the activities was to promote the greater engagement of volunteers for building an inclusive future.

Explore how volunteers in East and Southern Africa united for a more inclusive future: starting with Kenya, which hosted the first ever regional volunteer awards and festival, we'll take you through a journey celebrating the volunteer spirit across Burundi, Comoros, Ethiopia, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.



Kenya hosted the regional IVD event this year, with the first ever Regional Volunteer Awards Festival to recognize and celebrate volunteer champions from across the region. The East and Southern Africa Regional Office of UNV collaborated with UNDP, the Government of Kenya, ONE Campaign, Mt. Kenya University, Kenya Red Cross, VSO Kenya, and various volunteer-involving organizations and several partners in the region to directly unite formal and informal volunteers and partners from across the region.

The event, focused on promoting inclusion and reducing inequalities, in line with SDG 10, was opened by the Hon. Abdul Bahari, Chief Administrative Secretary at the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection in Kenya, representing the Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection and Acting Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury and Planning, Amb. Ukur Yatani. Prof. Kivutha Kibwana, the Governor of Makueni County Government, also graced the event and presented the awards to the volunteer recipients.

The United Nations was represented at the festival by the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kenya, Mr Walid Badawi, and the Deputy Resident Representative, Ms Mandisa Mashologu. UNDP shared more on the Kenya Accelerator lab and provided an opportunity for participants to pledge to stand against gender-based violence and participate in the 'Orange the World' campaign, as part of the 16 days of activism 2019. Several top artists from the region performed at the Festival, and more than 50 volunteers from across the region received awards.


In Burundi, volunteers engaged with persons living with disabilities at the Handicapes Burundi JIMBERE centre and distributed support kits at the centre. They also joined children with mental disabilities at the TENGA centre, to raise awareness on mental health.

The volunteers engaged in the #Equalizer challenge to raise awareness on inclusion. UNV in Burundi recognized outstanding #VolunteerChampions as part the regional Volunteer Awards initiative in East and Southern Africa.



In Comoros, IVD 2019 was commemorated in the Island of Anjouan to recognize and value the contribution of volunteers to development efforts in the country. Activities held during the day included clean ups, tree planting and awareness campaigns on the importance of conserving Lake Dzialandzé. UN Volunteers also played a football match with local communities to raise awareness on volunteerism and its role in promoting community development.

The volunteers also organized a dialogue on volunteerism and inclusion and a student debate at a local university. The Island’s authorities helped mobilize the population and students from the Island to take part in the IVD activities.


IVD was hosted at the Amba Education for Needy People Association (Amba-ENPA). Organized by the UNV office, CUSO International, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) and Comitato Collaborazione Medica (CCM), the event provided support to over 165 young students, some of whom have disabilties. The event was marked by activities like tree planting, clean ups, reading of stories to children, painting, sports, short plays, musical renditions and much more. During a session with volunteers from UNV and partner organizations, as well as prospective volunteers, UNV Country Coordinator Selamawit Tsige stressed the need to clear misconceptions surrounding the concept of volunteering in the country.

During his opening remarks, Mr Endrias Getachew, Deputy Resident Representative (Operations) a.i. of UNDP, commended the efforts of volunteers in the country.

Today, we celebrate the volunteers who are working to advance peace and development Ethiopia. We encourage governments to support volunteer efforts and recognize volunteer contributions to the pursuit of equality and inclusion. --Mr Endrias Getachew, Deputy Resident Representative (Operations) a.i., UNDP


UN Volunteers partnered with community volunteers to organize activities around the UN's Greening the Blue initiative. Together, the volunteers sourced fruit plants and vegetables for Dagreek School, a school for children with special needs. They acquired indoor plants to green the UN House, in order to help reduce carbon dioxide levels and levels of certain pollutants, and increase humidity. All UN entities in Namibia were invited to adopt a plant and care for it.


A volunteering week started on 28 November 2019 in Rwamagana District, Kigabiro Sector. During this week, partners teamed up to provide materials for local infrastructure, with UNV, for example, contributing 150 iron sheets to roof 10 community latrines and construct five kitchens. They also constructed and rehabilitated houses for those in need and planed kitchen gardens.

Other activities included a blood donation drive, where 56 university students donated, and the rehabilitation of a eight-kilometer long road from Ruhigiro school to the main road of Mukamira-Ngororero. Furthermore, participants planted trees mixed with crops and donated 3,000 fish seeds in Burera District.

These activities were headed by the NIC Vice President Lt. Col. Migambi Desire. During celebration this year, selected volunteers were recognized for their volunteering activities as part of the Regional Volunteer Awards initiative.


UNV partnered with the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) to offer community service on the occasion of IVD. The volunteers, together with their AMISOM counterparts, mobilized UN staff to clean the beach stretch from the United Nations camp along the airport area to the end of the terminal.

The cleaning exercise led by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Mr James Swan, attracted more than 100 participants. Mr Swan was joined by mission staff and representatives from other agencies, funds and programmes. The team also helped unclog the coastline, which was covered with deposits of plastics. 

Prior to the beach clean up, the SRSG also led a team of UN Volunteers to plant trees around the UN camp in Mogadishu. At the conclusion of the exercise, participants were each given gifts of safe water bottles to use for drinking water at work. In his remarks, Mr Swan explained that this was meant to reduce the amount of disposable plastic water bottles used, which were affecting the Indian Ocean coastline. 

South Africa

Tthe UNV team organized an IVD event at an early child development centre, and invited another school for children with disabilities from informal settlements in Soweto. The principals of both schools agreed to invest more in support for children with disabilities to help integrate them more.

The activities in South Africa were held in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and with the support of volunteers from Tshwane University of Technology and UN Volunteers serving with different UN entities.

South Sudan

UN Volunteers joined hands with volunteers of the Red Cross to undertake activities in various parts of the country. In Aweil, they organized a blood donation drive in partnership with Médecins Sans Frontières, while in Bor, they visited an orphanage and donated mattresses, blankets, food items, school stationery sets, toys, clothes, towels, soap, insect killers, chairs and bins. In Gurej, UN Volunteers and Red Cross volunteers planted trees, and in Juba, UN Volunteers from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) joined volunteers from the Red Cross in Juba for a morning radio talk show to discuss the values and importance of volunteerism and its contribution towards reducing inequalities in the country.

UN Volunteers based in the Kuajok field office raised awareness on personal hygiene, environmental cleanliness, the power and potential of volunteerism, and HIV as a human rights issue. Over 100 students of Kuajok Academy Secondary School were sensitized in two classroom sessions. Subsequently, all UN Volunteers, students and the school management jointly planted mango trees and cleaned the school premises and latrines. In Malakal, volunteers went to a protection of civilians site and interacted with youth on volunteerism and Sustainable Development Goal 10, reducing inequalities. In Torit, volunteers visited two children’s homes to share food donations, while in Wau, volunteers celebrated by sharing experiences with university students from Western Bahr-el-Ghazal. In Yambio, UN Volunteers took action to build sustainable playground equipment for vulnerable orphans from the House of Hope Orphanage, located at the Episcopal Lutheran Church of South Sudan. The volunteers gathered waste materials such as scrap metal and old tyres and transformed them into recreational equipment for a sustainable playground for the children and the community.


UNV and over 20 partners mobilized more than 500 volunteers from among UN Volunteers, UN partners, community-based organizations, local government authorities, higher learning institutions, youth peer educators, women and persons with disabilities. The volunteers were divided into several groups to run a series of volunteer marketplace activities and offer community services at different locations in Arusha. A community volunteer stakeholders dialogue articulated the agenda of volunteer contribution in development and volunteer information clinics discussed the SDGs. Youth edutainment activities were held to instill the spirit of volunteerism among young people. In addition, a number of voluntary outreach activities were conducted, including tree planting for environmental conservation at a water source catchment area and a clean up of hospital premises. Volunteerism promotion sessions were also convened at a Training Institute for Special Needs Teachers Training Institute and engaging experts and government officials in sharing volunteer contributions to policy implementation. Participants included 250 community volunteers from civil society organizations, 15 local government authority representatives, 30 volunteers from higher learning Institutions, 100 Youth Volunteer Peer Educators, 100 UN Volunteers and UN staff members, 20 women and persons with disabilities. The marketplace concept was meant to encourage learning and networking among the volunteers.


UNDP and UNV commemorated IVD in Uganda, together with other UN agencies and the Volunteer-Involving Organizations in Uganda (TVOU) umbrella network, by advocating for inclusion and equality through a public forum and exhibitions at Kampala International University. The event provided a platform to recognize individuals and organizations that are at the forefront of advocating for inclusion and equality and fostering a better understanding and appreciation of the contribution of volunteers and volunteer-involving organizations to Uganda’s development. Outsanding volunteers were recognized during the celebrations.

By engaging people from the grassroots in decision-making processes, volunteers have created spaces for participation that have enhanced social cohesion and good governance. --Ms Elsie Attafuah, UNDP Resident Representative


The IVD campaign focused on reaching out to two communities in need. One activity helped the Special Needs School of the University Teaching Hospital in mobilizing resources for a brand new school bus, wire fence and gate and supplies for the school feeding programme. Another activity supported the Chainama Special Needs School with donations of school supplies and sanitary towels and mobilized resources for a school bus. Outsanding volunteers were also recognized during the celebrations.

The event held at the UTH Special Needs School was officiated by Hon. Kampamba Mulenga Chewe, MP and Minister of Community Development and Social Services. He was joined by Mr Lionel Laurens, UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Ekuko Nizeki, Volunteer Programme Coordinator for the Japan International Corporation Agency, and Mr Ramin Shahzamani, Country Director of PLAN International. On behalf of UNDP and UNV, Mr Laurens pledged to procure a wire fence for the school worth US $12,000, procure labour for construction of the fence and put up speed bumps on the busy road next to the school. As a follow-up to the IVD 2019 celebrations, the Republican First Lady, Ms Esther Lungu, will receive a Volunteer Champion award in January 2020, in recognition of her relentless efforts to fight for equality and the inclusion of persons with disabilities in Zambia’s development agenda.


The IVD event in Zimbabwe focused on sharing lessons from volunteer response during Cyclone Idai, which mostly affected Mozambique and Zaimbabwe, and a dialogue on how volunteerism can help realize a more inclusive society. A volunteer from the HigherLife Foundation and Mrs Anderson from Miracle Missions shared their testimonies about how the response for Cyclone Idai was coordinated. They emphasized how inspired they were during the crisis at how citizens were able to mobilize themselves to provide goods and services for the most adversely-affected communities in Chimanimani and Chipinge during the cyclone.

UN Volunteers Shingirai Mtabheni and Gift Govere (in photo) made presentations on inclusion, based on their practical experience of volunteer work, and provided participants opportunities to discover and consider the possibilities volunteerism offers. Shingirai is involved in the capacity building of local business owners on effective business practices, as well as value addition and the cooperative movement in Gokwe South. Gift, who joined UNDP Zimbabwe as part of the UNDP/UNV Talent Programme for Young Professionals with Disabilities, is working on ensuring disability-inclusive programming, fostering the participation of persons with disabilities in all levels of our work, promoting their rights and the ensuring access to justice for women and girls with disabilities.