CIVS Kenya
CIVS Kenya
CIVS Kenya

The Challenges Of Volunteering In Africa

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Category: Blog
Written by Sophie Atieno

We hope from our previous post on challenges volunteer managers face you got to learn something more about them. About the people who facilitate the process of volunteering abroad. Today, we would like to discuss some of the challenges of volunteering in Africa.

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The following are challenges of volunteering in the continent.

Poor Infrastructure

The first challenge of volunteering in Africa has got to be the poor infrastructure. While a good part of the continent is developed, there is still a significant part of Africa that remains underdeveloped. All these put into consideration, even the developed parts of the continent are yet to be at per with the Western countries from which volunteers come. Volunteers might therefore find it frustrating to move around and to get the job done. This is especially so if the job involves moving of raw materials or finished products to or from the projects. The poor infrastructure also makes it difficult to respond to emergencies such as health related ones.

Tropical Illnesses

Another challenge of volunteering in Africa is the number of tropical illnesses it makes one susceptible to. For many years the prevalence of malaria and other tropical diseases has been a big problem in the continent. Others that are common include HIV/AIDS, black plague and scarlet fever. A lot of diseases that still exist in Africa have actually been eradicated in countries found in the West. As such, a volunteer may have a hard time. It is for that reason that they are advised to seek medical attention before embarking on the volunteering journey in Africa.

Difference in work ethic

Most volunteers who come to Africa arrive with a mindset of readiness to work. However, sometimes they encounter people at the volunteering projects in Africa or members of the community who do not seem to be in much of a rush to make the difference. A good reason for this could be the “African Timer” mentality that has seen a lot of the African people delay projects or work. This could be frustrating to the volunteers as they feel derailed.

Gender bias

Another challenge facing volunteering in Africa is the gender bias. This would probably affect female volunteers most. The reason is a lot of African cultures still undermine the role of women in the society. As such women in the community are not allowed to carry out certain tasks. They might want this to apply even to the foreigners who volunteer among them. The female volunteers could therefore be subject to sexual harassment, rude remarks, and could also be prohibited to take part in certain tasks they are capable of participating in just because they are seen more or only fit for the men.

Hostility of communities or standing out

First of all, as a foreigner in an African country, you will definitely stand out. This is not necessarily a negative thing, however, the stares, shouts and questions regarding why you look the way you look could get to you as a volunteer. Your foreign appearance could also make you a target for pick pockets, theft or even beggars. Another challenge of volunteering in Africa could be hostility from the communities. Sometimes they are not so willing to accept foreigners to be part of them. It might take some time for the locals to get used to the idea of having new volunteers.

Those are just five major challenges of volunteering in Africa. However, we will discuss more in the near future.

While these may seem like big problems, they can be under control and as such, volunteers should not feel discouraged about volunteering in Africa. In case of any questions regarding volunteering in Kenya or Africa in general, contact us at CIVS Kenya and we will gladly take you throughout the entire process.