The CIVICUS Civil Society Index (CSI) findings present a picture of volunteering and voluntary action in the African context that is shaped by cultural, historical, socio-economic and political dynamics. Even though Africa is not a homogeneous entity, across countries and cultures the perception of volunteering is quite similar. The CSI reports high levels of volunteering to help a neighbour or a community, suggesting a strong source of social capital and potential to encourage civic activism.
The CSI is a civil society self-assessment and action research project conducted by civil society organisations (CSOs) on a national level in partnership with global civil society network CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation. This paper draws from data gathered in eight African countries in the last phase of CSI, held from 2008 to 2011: Guinea, Liberia, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia. (The quantitative data set for Ghana has also been finalised but does not contain a full set of data on volunteering, while at the time of writing CSI projects were underway in Madagascar and planned in Uganda.)
This paper draws from both the quantitative and qualitative data gathered from the CSI. As two different methodologies were applied in four countries each, it uses the quantitative data to profile four countries in particular (Liberia, Morocco, Togo and Zambia), while also drawing where possible from the reports of four other countries (Guinea, Rwanda, Senegal and Tanzania). Some secondary information has also been collected so as to offer a fuller approach, but it should be noted that little has been documented specifically about volunteer trends in Africa.