Speaking at an event to commemorate International Volunteer Day in Harare last week, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Services, Lancester Museka, said volunteer organisations had over the years helped in the reduction of the HIV and Aids prevalence rate.
“Zimbabwe’s success in the reduction of HIV and Aids prevalence can be attributed to the tireless efforts of volunteers among civil society organisations, complementing the work of the government,” Museka said.
For many years, volunteers have been involved in promoting behaviour change, correct condom use and educating people about HIV and Aids.
The country’s HIV prevalence rate dropped to 13% from 16% in 2007, with the National Aids Council (NAC) saying changed behaviour patterns among men and increased condom use contributed to the drop.
“Volunteering has always been a feature of African and indeed Zimbabwean communities and is an integral part of our culture as a people,” Museka said. “However, the male gender is lagging behind in volunteering issues and are, therefore, urged to step up and make a change in the various communities that are in need of support.”
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s Deputy Country Director Martim Maya officially launched the first State of the World Volunteering Report at the event which was held at a hotel in the city.
Maya said volunteerism should be recognised as a powerful tool, a universal renewable resource and a vital component of the social capital of every nation.
He said the report was set to bring renewed focus to volunteerism and recognition to the millions who are volunteering their time and energy doing crucial peace and development work in disaster, environmental and humanitarian situations.
Volunteers who attended the event said although volunteering was seen as an easy task, it had its challenges, for example, being suspected of fostering a political agenda.
They called for the completion of the National Volunteer Policy that will spell out the rights of volunteers, conditions of service and remuneration among other issues.