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Volunteering for Development programme, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) works to improve quality and access to health and education services as well as livelihood opportunities for the most poor and vulnerable.

Key aims of the programme

The grant recognises VSO's extensive experience of putting volunteers in the right places to tackle poverty and inequality.

Volunteering for Development helps us to drive stronger volunteer impact and help to develop Britain’s reputation as a global leader to deliver improved health, education and livelihoods outcomes for up to two million of the poorest and most marginalised people across the globe. 

Areas of impact

The grant enables us to drive vital work across several development areas. This joined-up approach sees changes happening at all levels to bring real change to the world’s most poor and marginalised.

The grant supports VSO to place expert volunteers to support projects in 24 countries around the globe. Throughout the course of the grant we aim to have supported 4,000 volunteers.

After year one, we have placed 606 international volunteers and 920 national volunteers across our four areas of focus:


Year one overview

The grant supports VSO's vision to enhance effectiveness across a number of vital areas - including our 'core approaches':

The grant is also supports work to improve the standards of volunteering across sector.

Volunteering for Development around the world

The Volunteering for development grant is supporting work in 24 countries across the globe. Find out more

Highlights from year one:

Work on the ground

  • In the first year of Volunteering for Development a total of 847,000 Primary actors reached were women and girls, 60% of VSO's total reach. 13,601 (1%) had a disability.
  • Bangladesh and Tanzania - challenging traditional gender perceptions: Working alongside Theatre for Change we are using drama to interact with communities and challenge perceptions of standard gender norms. 
  • Bangladesh - reducing child marriage: We are working alongside the Girls Not Brides campaign to monitor the implementation of Child Marriage Act, which was passed in 2017.
  • Sierra Leone - tackling gender-based violence:  Reported incidents of gender-based violence have halved in Kenema District where we're working with local volunteers to work as male advocates and peer health educators. A film covering this project was selected for the Sustainable Development Goals Film Festival at the 2018 UN High Level Political Forum. 

Influencing policy

This film documenting the 'Husband School' project in Sierra Leone was selected for the Sustainable Development Goals Film Festival at the 2018 UN High Level Political Forum

  • African Union Gender strategy: 600 Million women and girls now have a clear actionable roadmap on gender, including an investment plan and an advocacy tool. VSO emphasised the need for an inclusion lens in the African Union’s approach to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  • Kenya - Policy for learners and trainees with disabilities: (formerly Kenya special education needs policy). Launched by the President of Kenya in July 2018. VSO was central to the initiation and subsequent development of this policy and accompanying guidelines. The guidelines accompanying the policy have formed the basis for the development of the National Education Sector Strategic Plan 2018-2022.
  • Malawi - developing by-laws and reporting systems on child marriages: in 14 group villages.
  • Nepal - National guidelines on violence against women and girls: For the first time, clear public guidelines are provided about the services and support provided by the government to women and girls who have experienced discrimination. A VSO national expert volunteer co-drafted the policy.
  • Nepal - National guidelines on violence against women and girls. For the first time, clear public guidelines are provided about the services and support provided by the government to women and girls who have experienced discrimination. A VSO national expert volunteer co-drafted the policy.

Highlights from year one:

Work on the ground

  • Bangladesh - education interventions for Rohingya refugee children: we have implemented Home Based Early Childhood Education and Care for 3-5 year olds and Child friendly alternative learning classes for 6-14 year olds.
  • Ethiopia - education interventions for refugee children: In partnership with UNICEF, we are developing a Psychosocial Support programme in Oromia and Somali regions of Ethiopia to directly support vulnerable primary school children.
  • Nepal - flood recovery: We are working alongside a selection of partners to support rehabilitation and improving access to schools in addition to ongoing disaster risk reduction work.
  • Sierra Leone - flood recovery: continued focus on the shift from emergency response to recovery and resettlement. Through the flood response programme, technical support has been provided to the Disaster Management Department of the office of National Security and training for over 50 community volunteers to be engaged in future Disaster Risk Reduction campaigns in the Provincial districts of Kono, Pujehun, Bo, Koinadugu and Kambia.

Influencing policy:

  • Nepal - Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy.

    Government of Nepal has drafted a National DRR strategy with support from the Association of International NGOs including. VSO supported with technical expertise and organised public consultations with primary actors to ensure accountability. We will also support the monitoring and implementation of the strategy.

Highlights from year one:

  • Citizen-led monitoring introduced across six countries: This work has reached over 30,000 citizens and there is significant increase in the awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals among these communities
  1. -In Tanzania, 1453 young people across Lindi and Mtwara are actively involved in youth platforms, actively building youth networks with strong leadership skills to lead their own development, monitor progress and take action.
  2. - In Uganda, 3,456 community members and 3,426 school children have been involved with communications around the SDGs and social accountability
  • Ethiopia - National Youth Volunteering Policy: completion of a National Youth Volunteering Policy and adoption by parliament; the National Civil Society Organisations (CSO) Policy amended to provide significant level of political space for CSOs to engage in rights, policy and advocacy issues.

Highlights from year one

  • We have recently presented at the annual meeting of European members of the International Forum for Volunteering in Development and will be conducting a session on volunteering standards at the Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) Conference 2018. Furthermore we have been selected to develop and present a paper at International Volunteer Cooperation Organisations (IVCO) Forum 2018 exploring the issues of inclusive development practice for women and youth as well as the role of volunteering for development.
  • The group leading volunteering standards continues to expand its membership. We have recently added organisations with a focus on volunteering in institutional settings and a number of ‘volunteerism’ organisations, as well as UN Volunteers.
  • We have established a working partnership with the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) to support our work developing standards for volunteering.


Where we work

The Volunteering for Development Grant is supporting vital work across the globe. Find out more about our work using the map below.


More information