IVCO 2019, Historical Gathering in Kigali: A Turning Point for Advancing Quality in Volunteering for Development.

News | Published at: November 04 2019

At the outset of the IVCO 2019 conference that was held in Kigali, Rwanda from October 27-30, leaders of Volunteering for Development organizations from around the world pledged to apply the Standard for Volunteering in the Service of Development, which aims to improve the quality and impact of volunteering for development as a whole. CECI and WUSC, which contributed to the development of this Standard, responded positively by signing the Kigali Declaration.

This topic was first introduced in 2014, and in 2017 the Forum members voted in favour of the adoption of a set of “V4D” standards (Volunteering for Development). Among these members, CECI and WUSC, in close collaboration with VSO, actively contributed to the genesis and development of the Standard. In recent years, the Forum has consulted with over 40 organizations and 400 individuals (volunteers, staff, donors and community representatives) to develop the Standard with the hope of providing organizations with the necessary framework for volunteering to be responsible and to have an impact. 

The culmination of this process was presented at the IVCO 2019 conference. The Standard for Volunteering for Development is based on four key pillars that all organizations working with volunteers should aspire to: quality project design and implementation, due diligence, quality volunteer management, and efficient impact monitoring. Ultimately, this standard aims to make the volunteering sector more accountable and effective and to generate greater trust between potential volunteers and the communities where they are bound to work.

In signing the Kigali Declaration, Claudia Black, Executive Director of CECI, adhered to the principles of the Standard and pledged on behalf of CECI to apply good practises to achieve high standards of quality. “CECI is constantly striving to improve the quality of its volunteer cooperation programs, and the Standard will provide the necessary framework to do so in coordination with other organizations, thereby collectively improving the quality of our work,” Black explained. “CECI will remain committed to the Standard and will participate in the pilot phase, which will launch in February 2020 in the form of a self-assessment. ”

The IVCO conference brought together more than 150 delegates from organizations, governments, the private sector and the development sector for a constructive dialogue. “A lot of focus was placed on the solutions and strategies to implement, but also on the importance of bringing about a real change of mentality and perspective for policy makers, managers, volunteers and partner organizations from North and South,” noted Odette McCarthy, Director of the Uniterra Program by CECI and WUSC. With more than 70% of the delegates coming from African organizations working for development with the support of national or international volunteers, the IVCO conference was a place of choice to discuss the challenges related to truly including communities in the design, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of volunteer programs for development.

Among the delegates were two African partners of the Uniterra program by CECI and WUSC, who were invited to share their experiences and lessons learned. Wedabu Sayibu, Program Officer at RAINS (Regional Advisory Information Systems Network), partner of the Uniterra program in Ghana, presented RAINS’ model, through which young volunteers act as Peace Ambassadors in parts of Ghana where social tensions abound. Through their commitment, these young people support the development process of their community and act as profound drivers of change.

Mouhamadou Moustapha Gueye, program manager at COGAPO (Collectif des Groupements Associatifs de Pikine Ouest), a partner of the Uniterra program in Senegal, shared his experience in mobilizing young Senegalese volunteers. Deeply convinced of the importance of offering young women the opportunity to access financial and technical resources to develop their businesses, Mr. Gueye testified to the impact of the volunteers of the Uniterra Program in supporting a change in mentality for the youth of COPAGO.

The IVCO conference ended with a call for action to all Volunteering for Development organizations to sign the Kigali Declaration and take part in the pilot phase of the Standard. In 2020, the Standard will be tested by several organizations, including CECI and WUSC, in the form of a self-assessment and in the spirit of continuous learning. The organizations are also encouraged to engage in a dialogue on the Standard with the representatives of their respective States and to develop a common understanding of its importance and the resources needed for its implementation.