Five-Country Study on Service and Volunteering in Southern Africa

Five-Country Study on Service and Volunteering in Southern Africa

Leila Patel, Helene Perold, Salah Elzein Mohamed, René Carapinha
Enabling Environment for Volunteering

Fast read

  • This cross-national study looks at civic service and volunteering across five countries in the Southern African Development Community. Data was collected in 46 interviews, 13 focus groups and five programmes showcasing both formal and informal service.


The study highlights the emergence of civic service and volunteering as a viable option for social development. It shows that community mobilization and volunteering played a key role in the fight against HIV and AIDS. The re-emergence of youth service through volunteering also provides young people with an opportunity to acquire skills and boost their employability while contributing to community development. Despite this, the potential of service and volunteering remains untapped. There is still a lack of understanding of the meanings of volunteering and service. More evidence is also needed to clarify certain issues, such as whether volunteering reinforces gender inequalities and divisions within society.

The study provides governments with new insights on the potential of volunteering and civic service. It also suggests the need for partnering with academia to enrich volunteering research and highlights approaches for developing gender-sensitive service programmes and policies.