Paraguay has a ‘demographic dividend’ - a large population of youth with a declining older adult population – but with a lack of opportunities for young people. At the same time, governance in Paraguay remains quite centralized with uneven areas of development outside of the capital city. The AROVIA programme contributes to the dual aims of The National Development Plan of Paraguay (PND2030) to strengthen youth leadership and participation in development and promote decentralized “participatory local development” with strong local government and civil society. AROVIA has created a methodology that places volunteers at the center of multi-sectoral interventions that aim to dynamize local development through participatory means. AROVIA volunteers not only pilot new methods to achieve local development goals, they also aim to transform local governance to become more participatory and better informed by the needs and priorities of the communities it serves.
South-South knowledge-exchange and partnerships have been important to the success of the programme. The AROVIA methodology has been influenced by the “Servicio País” volunteering programme from Chile, while partnerships with Peru’s Ministry of Social Inclusion and Development and Colombia’s Department of Social Prosperity have enabled AROVIA to share and learn from similar projects in other contexts.
All AROVIA volunteer activities take place within the scope of the strategic planning of local districts and AROVIA meets with local government actors prior to the deployment of volunteers to develop plans and agreements for the volunteer assignment before they arrive in the territory.