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Volunteers hailed for valuable role

MINISTER of Community Development and Social Services Doreen Mwamba says rising levels of inequalities in Zambia and the world over are a wake-up call to work together in finding solutions to the common challenges being faced. Ms Mwamba said volunteers have contributed in building a strong sense of belonging in communities. “There are over one billion volunteers who contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” she said during the commemoration of International Volunteer Day and launch of National Volunteer Policy yesterday. The day is meant to recognise and acknowledge the valuable contributions volunteers make to communities, the United Nations (UN) agencies, Government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and private sector. “Government is committed to ensuring that volunteerism is given its significant role in attaining the SDGs and poverty reduction,” Ms Mwamba said. The minister said the contributions of volunteers are notable in social, health, education and natural resources management to mention among others. Ms Mwamba said volunteers in Zambia also contribute greatly towards the implementation of social protection programmes like food security pack, social cash transfer and women empowerment programmes. Government is ready to collaborate with stakeholders in advocating and promoting volunteerism in the country as this will help shape a better society. UN resident coordinator Beatrice Mutali said nearly 8,000 UN volunteers currently serve with over 40 UN entities around the world offering support in climate change and other sectors. “I would, therefore, like to take this opportunity to recognise and spotlight the over 100 hardworking UN volunteers in Zambia, working across the UN system in partnership with the Government of Zambia,” she said. Ms Mutali noted that volunteers played a pivotal role at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Globally, volunteerism remains an important vehicle for shaping and advancing development,” she said. She said the national volunteer policy will strengthen the working environment for volunteers. Ms Mutali has since commended Government for the milestone that will enhance volunteer action across the country. Ministry of Community Development and Social Services Permanent Secretary Angela Kawandami said the policy will act as a legal framework in achieving various goals of Government. Other organisations represented at the commemorations were JICA, UNDP and Zambia National Volunteers Coordinating Committee.