Statistical data on volunteerism area has become increasingly available since the 19th ICLS in 2013, which recognized volunteer work as a form of work and established its international statistical definition.
In 2017, ILO's Statistics Department conducted a global review of national practices in measuring volunteer work, between 2007 and 2017. The review was conducted under the framework of the ILO-UNV partnership established to promote and facilitate the regular measurement of volunteer work by the National Statistical Offices (NSOs).
Volunteerism as a contributor to growth and prosperity has not been properly captured by the development discourse of Africa. However, the sprout of movements, organizations, and groups, now working on and in support of volunteerism across the continent serve as a testament to an increased recognition of the value of innovative volunteerism as a mechanism for addressing most of the economic and socio-political challenges faced by Africa.
The report is submitted in response to the request by the General Assembly in its resolution 70/129 that the Secretary-General report at its seventy-third session on the implementation of that resolution, including the plan of action to integrate volunteering into peace and development policies and programmes.
The Voluntary National Reviews confirm firstly that volunteers remain important partners for implementation of the SDGs across diverse contexts. For example, Andorra, Guinea, Jamaica, Malta and Vietnam discuss volunteer efforts in the context of disaster risk reduction and environmental protection; Lithuania, Saudi Arabia and Togo highlight the role of volunteers in education, employment and poverty reduction; while Bahrain, Bhutan, Kiribati and Lebanon link volunteering to community engagement and social cohesion.
Kenyan communities have always voluntarily organized themselves, whether formally or informally, to help each other in times of need and in times of celebration. At independence, this volunteering spirit was adopted by the government of the day as “harambee”, loosely translated as “pooling resources for community development”. This spirit of harambee is the backbone of today’s volunteerism in Kenya.
What images come to mind when you think of a disaster? Search and rescue teams pulling people from the rubble? Relief camps filled with displaced families receiving aid from international organizations? These are the typical images we see in the media. However, they misrepresent the reality that the vast majority of people are rescued and helped by their fellow community members after a disaster.
Tshepiso steps back and admires his handiwork. As part of his contribution to Mandela Day, he has painted the interior walls of a corrugated iron shack that serves as a crèche for young children in an informal settlement in Johannesburg. In the spirit of ubuntu, he regularly ferries his elderly parents, aunts and uncles to hospital or assists them with shopping. Just last weekend he repaired a broken kitchen cabinet door for his neighbour, Mrs Potts.
The Voluntary National Reviews of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize the contributions of volunteers to peace and development efforts. But how can voluntary action be better mobilized and used to strengthen resilience and promote long-term transformational developmental processes and the achievement of the SDGs?