VOSESA supports MDGs and NEPAD

By Salah Mohamed

In seeking to strengthen knowledge about civic service and volunteering in southern Africa, VOSESA sees its work as contributing significantly to the realisation of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the primary objectives of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

Support for MDGs
One of the main questions that VOSESA seeks to explore through its research is: What role can service and volunteering play in the HIV and AIDS pandemic? This is in line with MDG 6 which is concerned with combating HIV and AIDS as one of the top priorities for promoting human development.

There is no region in the world where the pandemic is worse than it is in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2003, there were 36 million adults and two million children living with the disease, 66 per cent of whom were located in Sub-Saharan Africa (see table below).

Prevalence rates of HIV among adults in some southern African countries
Country HIV prevalence rate among adults (15 - 49)
Botswana 37.3%
Malawi 14.2%
South Africa 21.5%
Zambia 16.5%
Zimbabwe 24.6%
Source: 2004 Report on the global AIDS epidemic

VOSESA is also tracking developments with regard to youth service in southern Africa. Target No. 16 of the MDGs call for the development and implementation of strategies for decent and productive work for the youth. Many countries around the world and in the SADC region in particular adopt youth service programmes as part of their youth development strategies. Youth service policies and programmes aim to benefit communities whilst developing young people’s skills and experience. There is also growing interest in the potential of youth volunteering for development as a strategy for achieving the MDGs.

During 2005 and 2006 VOSESA will conduct a five-country study on service and volunteering that will document youth service, volunteering policy and practice in Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In this way it intends to contribute to improved knowledge about this important development tool.

NEPAD is an Africa-wide initiative designed to address current development challenges that face the continent and to ensure that all efforts are directed towards the realisation of the MDGs. Issues such as escalating poverty, the growing prevalence of HIV, and continuing underdevelopment are on top of the agenda. NEPAD also promotes principles of good governance and the utilisation of the resourcefulness of the African people.

VOSESA’s work explores and documents the extent to which civic service and volunteerism foster democracy and development in southern Africa. It publicises information about service and volunteering on its website (www.vosesa.org.za), promotes research into the relationship between service, volunteering and human development, and plans to commission a new edition of Service Enquiry with an in-depth, research-based focus on service and volunteering in the African context (see www.service-enquiry.org.za).