The ACF office for West Africa (WARO), in collaboration with the Swedish Agency for International Development (SIDA), recently published a comprehensive case study on the role of Community Volunteers in the most important task of prevention of undernutrition.
In a study encompassing three Sahelian countries -Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal-, ACF and SIDA have stressed the important role played by Community Volunteers (CVs) beyond service delivery in a series of programmes. Yet, and despite the numerous programmes that have incorporated CVs as partners in programme execution, little coordination exists among organisations. This has led to a lack of clarity regarding things as basic as the status of these CVs, their specific roles and scopes, and the remunerations and incentives to which they are entitled. The study, which encompasses eight programmes in these three countries, covering more than 130 CVs, around 100 community representatives and 15 health agents, suggests that disparities regarding CVs' status and functions are not only evident between NGOs and national health policies, but also among NGOs themselves. This insufficient coordination among all actors prevents CVs to fully conduct their tasks, and effectively put into practice their potential for community work. Such work, in honest, is often precarious and faces a lack of sustainable options for the long term. Improving specific situations and coordinating at an overarching level could benefit both CVs and the organisations they work for, but more important, it could have a positive impact on prevention activities, and overall community mobilisation, around malnutrition.
For the full document of this study please follow this link [Original text in French] Cover Photo credits: Gwenn Dubourthoumieu