A national volunteerism policy that will help set up mechanisms to measure the contribution of volunteers to development is set to be launched. The policy which will provide guidelines for qualifying and quantifying volunteer contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is an initiative of the Ministry of East African Community (EAC), Labour and Social Protection and Volunteer Involving Organizations (VIO) Society.
With the policy, a nationwide study will be conducted to establish the contribution of volunteerism to national development including the GDP. Currently it is estimated that volunteerism contributes 2 per cent of GDP.
“For a long time, volunteers and the volunteerism sector as a whole has not been appreciated. This is mainly because we have had no guidelines to measure and quantify their work. The new volunteerism policy will help appreciate and put value to work done by volunteers,” says Mr Gekonge of Ministry of Labor.
“We looked at other countries such as Rwanda and Ghana who are already doing this and assessed the impact that had made on the country’s development. Kenya stands to benefit immensely if we have a structured way to measure the impact of volunteerism to national development,” he adds.
The new policy also provides for the establishment of a national volunteer program which will see Kenyan volunteers sent on exchange to other countries. This is a great opportunity for young people in Kenya to experience work and life in different countries as well as gain exposure to other cultures.
“We already have many Kenyans who are volunteering in various sectors -some knowingly others unknowingly,” says Christine Sayo of the VIO Society. “With this policy, we are hoping to not only encourage them to continue volunteering but also instill the spirit of volunteerism among young people so they can become strong advocates of volunteerism from a young age,” she adds.
Kenya is among the few African countries to come up with a homegrown volunteerism policy. The policy aims to not only recognize volunteerism and its contribution to GDP but also celebrate and protect the rights of volunteers, volunteer involving organizations and beneficiaries. A copy of the policy is available on the Ministry of Labor website http://www.labour.go.ke/resources/category/4-policies.html