International Volunteer Day

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Statement by Acting Deputy Administrator John Barsa

For Immediate Release

Friday, December 4, 2020

Every December 5, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) observes International Volunteer Day to recognize the efforts of talented and dedicated individuals who tirelessly and selflessly improve lives and build communities around the world. Over the past five decades, USAID has funded volunteer programs that bring the best of American ingenuity and expertise to solve global challenges.

Across the Agency this year, USAID has renewed our commitment to volunteerism through a number of initiatives, such as the Small Project Assistance (SPA) Program. Through SPA, a 37-year-old partnership with Peace Corps to address community priorities and boost local capacity, Peace Corps Volunteers receive technical and financial resources to deepen their impact through small grants, training activities, and programmatic support. Through these activities, SPA has involved more than 30 million community members.

In addition, more than 1,000 Peace Corps Volunteers in 40 countries around the world have been advancing global food security as part of Feed the Future since 2012. Together, they have reached over 40,000 people each year and helped communities grow sustainable, nutritious food.

USAID also is proud to fund the Farmer-to-Farmer Program, which, for the past 35 years, has worked with highly-skilled U.S. volunteers who provide agricultural expertise to combat poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. Since 1985, over 19,000 Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers have helped 12,500 agricultural organizations in 116 countries. In addition to providing agricultural know-how and creating goodwill, they also increase the American public’s understanding of international development programs.

USAID continues to mobilize the creative capacity of volunteers in support of our development objectives through the Volunteers for International Security and Prosperity Annual Program Statement, which enables USAID Missions to fund organizations to deploy skilled professionals as volunteers. Recent activities include having American business leaders help vulnerable women business-owners in the Republic of Ecuador and the Dominican Republic develop the skills to become successful entrepreneurs, and bringing retired U.S. professionals to assist host-government officials improve the management of protected and natural resources in Mongolia; the Kingdom of Thailand; and the Republics of Uganda, Kenya, Colombia, and Perú.

USAID has a legacy of working with faith-based organizations that often leverage extensive volunteer networks to respond swiftly to development challenges. For instance, USAID funds the Rushooka Health Center in Uganda, a prenatal health clinic run by Sister Marlene Webler and powered by community volunteers who provide families with basic health guidance and refer individuals to care at the center. In the Republic of Indonesia, USAID’s Community Empowerment Against Tuberculosis (CEPAT) project organizes local volunteer teams to connect communities with critical health care. In addition to training community health volunteers, CEPAT teamed up with Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim social organization, to help local public-sector health facilities raise awareness about the prevention and control of diseases more effectively.

These efforts exemplify the important impact volunteers can have on development. USAID remains committed to supporting the participation of volunteers globally in efforts to strengthen local communities and advance communities in our partner countries on their Journeys to Self-Reliance.

Last updated: January 18, 2021

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