Thousands of volunteers, government officials, United Nations staff and other stakeholders joined hands across East and Southern Africa to mark International Volunteer Day 2021 (IVD), calling for urgent volunteer action for an inclusive common future.
UN Volunteers are important to our work with forcefully displaced persons in the region – thanks to them, we are able to reach people in need. --Ms Clementine Nkweta-Salami, Regional Bureau Director for the East, Horn and Great Lakes Regions of Africa, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said in her social media message
Other senior UN staff who shared key messages for IVD 2021 on video and social media included Ms Lucy Ndungu, Regional Manager of UNV's East and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO), Dr Juliette Biao, Africa Regional Director at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Dr Bannet Ndyanabangi, Regional Director for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in East and Southern Africa, Mr Mohamed Fall, Regional Director for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Eastern and Southern Africa, Dr Munir Safield, UNICEF Uganda Country Representative and Dr Ayodele Odusola, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in South Africa.
In South Sudan and Uganda, IVD was celebrated with a focus on climate action. The main events in the two countries included tree planting activities to help mitigate the impacts of climate change, and a series of radio talk shows and media engagements to raise awareness of the role of volunteerism in environmental stewardship and community development.
Photo: Collage of photos from IVD 2021 in Uganda. ©UNV, 2021
In Kenya and Somalia, hundreds of UN Volunteers joined other UN personnel volunteers for a 5 kilometre run challenge in Nairobi on 5 December, and in Mogadishu on 4 December, respectively. The activities were aimed at advocating for volunteering as a means of inclusion and tackling climate change.
UNV Deputy Executive Coordinator, Ms Kyoko Yokosuka, UN-Habitat Chief of Policy, Legislation and Governance, Mr Remy Sietchiping, ESARO Regional Portfolio Manager, Ms Sarah Anyoti and other UN personnel joined the 5 kilometre run in Nairobi.
Kenya also hosted the inaugural UNV 50 Volunteer of the Year Awards ceremony on 7 December 2021. More than 20 volunteers were recognized for their exemplary performance and dedication in building strong communities across the country through volunteerism.
Key participants in the ceremony included: H.E. Kivutha Kibwana, Makueni County Governor, Mr Nelson Marwa, Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizen Affairs and Special Programmes, Mr Walid Badawi, UNDP Resident Representative, Ms Lucy Ndungu, UNV Regional Manager, Ms Damaris Mungai, Gender and Youth Coordination Officer (representing UNEP Africa Regional Director), Ms Sophie Onyango from Safaricom Foundation and Dr John Ireri from the University of Nairobi. The event was broadcast live on Facebook.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizen Affairs and Special Programmes, Professor Margaret Kobia, in a speech delivered on her behalf by the Principal Secretary at the Ministry, Mr Nelson Marwa, said that the Kenyan government recognizes volunteerism, as it helps in promoting a people-led approach to service delivery.
"When one offers their services to another in the form of love and kindness, it helps in enhancing peace, cohesion and inclusive development in the communities they live in,” said Prof. Kobia Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizen Affairs and Special Programmes
In Tanzania, UNV collaborated with several UN entities, Volunteer Organizations, the East Africa Community (EAC) Secretariat and Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW) to jointly co-host IVD 2021 on 5th December 2021 in Arusha, Tanzania.
Senior government representatives, UN Resident Coordinator in Tanzania and UNDP Tanzania Resident Representative were among senior personnel who graced the event. The Arusha Regional Secretariat and 30 volunteer-involving organizations in Tanzania were key partners in the event, in addition to UN entities hosting UN Volunteers, such as UNDP, UNICEF, UNHCR, UNFPA, UN Women, the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), UNEP, International Organization of Migration (IOM), World Food Programme (WFP), World Health Organization (WHO) and UN-Habitat. Fraternity from the private sector, civil society organizations and academia also joined the commemoration of IVD, calling on urgent volunteer action for a more inclusive and progressive society.
In Malawi, IVD 2021 was commemorated with a high-level event on 7 December 2021 to launch the UNV State of the World's Volunteerism Report (SWVR) at Malawi's Bingu International Conference Centre.
The keynote address at the event was delivered by the Minister of Industry. Other speakers included the Deputy Minister of Labour, UNDP Resident Representative, UN Resident Coordinator and UNV Deputy Executive Coordinator.
In Zambia, the launch of the IVD 2021 commemoration was held on 4 December 2021 with the Honourable Minister of Community Development and Social Services and streamed live on national TV. UNV, together with UNDP and the government of Zambia also donated a wire fence to a local school for children with special needs school in Lusaka, as part of a commitment towards ensuring inclusiveness and equality in the society.
In Mozambique and Madagascar, UN Volunteers gathered for a retreat and IVD 2021 celebration on 5 December 2021 at Museu da Mafalala in Maputo, and capacity building and learning activities in Antananarivo, respectively. The UN Resident Coordinator in Madagascar, Mr Issa Sanogo addressed the UN Volunteers, encouraging them to keep sharing the spirit of volunteering among other colleagues in the UN system.
UN Volunteers in Madagascar also took part in a national initiative called TAGNAMARO that involved cleaning public squares, restoring community infrastructure and rural public roads, supporting vulnerable children and planting trees for climate action. UNV personnel also held a series of media engagements, including talk shows on national radio and TV stations to raise awareness on volunteerism and call people to action on the IVD messages of inclusion and climate action.
In Angola, UN staff joined UN Volunteers and several partner organizations, including Portal do Voluntário, Angolan Scouts and many other national volunteer organizations, to clean the Benfica public beaches in the south of Luanda. The aim of the activity was to promote recycling and environmental protection.
Other IVD 2021 activities undertaken by UN Volunteers and volunteers from other volunteer-involving organizations included blood donation drives in Burundi, Ethiopia and South Sudan, donation of household essentials to vulnerable communities in Angola, Ethiopia and Kenya, in-person symposiums and dialogues on volunteerism in Angola, Eritrea and Ethiopia, and virtual dialogues on the role of volunteerism in building healthier, inclusive and progressive societies in Angola, the Comoro Islands, Ethiopia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
UNV also participated in a virtual panel discussion on volunteerism in the African context hosted by the African Union, with a keynote address from Ms Prudence Ngwenya, Acting Director of the Women, Gender and Youth Directorate at the African Union Commission. Across the region, millions of people were reached with the IVD 2021 messages through these events and engagements on traditional and social media channels.