The world’s second largest continent, Africa offers plenty of opportunity for the volunteer looking to make the world a better place. With such a vast and diverse range of options, it can be hard to know where to begin. One good place, however, is with the environment. The effect of climate change is potentially devastating in Africa, where 70% of citizens are dependent upon agriculture for their livelihoods. Sustainable and ecologically minded volunteering is therefore vital. However, be mindful of how you travel to your destination. Taking the train can cut your carbon footprint by 90% compared to a plane. Sort out sustainable transport to avoid negatively affecting the environment. So whether you are volunteering in Ghana, Guinea or any other country in Africa, here are the 3 types of sustainable volunteering that are crucially needed: Wildlife and Conservation, Renewable Energy Projects and Supplying Clean Water.
The Nationally threatened Angolan Colobus Monkey at the Colobus Conservation.
Africa is home to some of the most intelligent, yet endangered species on the planet. The black rhino population is down over 96% since 1960 and there are less than 1000 remaining mountain gorillas. This is largely due to poachers and human destruction of their natural environment.
As a wildlife conservation volunteer, you will gain the knowledge of how ecosystems require a perfect interspecies balance to exist. You might even spend your time checking that habitats are free of snares to stop poachers achieving their aims. By keeping animal populations thriving, the environment will continue to function properly.
This needn’t be done in a four by four, though. There is an increasing number of volunteer activities which use less environmentally damaging transport. Walking safaris combined with camping is the eco-friendly way to observe and look after wildlife. Travelling in the harsh terrain often requires a powerful engine, but there are alternatives if you don’t wish to increase your carbon footprint.
Click here for non-profit opportunities in Wildlife and Conservation that are located in Africa.
Sun Power bringing Renewable Energy
Despite being home to some incredibly valuable fossil fuels, Africa has been a world leader in renewable technology. The year-round sunshine and enormous coastline and rivers make it perfect for gathering solar, wind and hydroelectric power. This includes the hydroelectric Gibe III dam that looks set to double Ethiopia’s electricity capacity and Kenya’s wind farm, made up of 365 turbines. However, these epically sized projects offer plenty of sustainable volunteering opportunities to install and maintain machinery.
3 in 5 African citizens do not have a reliable energy source. That’s a total of 625 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, who are living without electricity. By volunteering in renewable energy projects, you can bring electricity even to the most remote villages. At the same time as providing life-saving energy, you will be helping to create a system which is sustainable and environmentally friendly. While countries such as China and India have prospered using fossil fuels, African countries are looking to grow economically, without causing unnecessary damage to the environment.
Clean Tanks for Sanitized Water
African countries are some of the poorest in the world, which is why the populations in sub-Saharan Africa are subject to unsanitary water. With average temperatures in Ethiopia of 93.0°F year round, access to a plentiful water supply is vital. Despite this, 61 million Ethiopians are still without access to safe drinking water. In total, Africa is home to 319 million people who do not have reliable access to a clean water supply. This situation can improve with the help of volunteers.
Whether you’re doing the admin work from an office or out digging the wells and installing pumps, any way in which you can help bring clean water to Africa will be appreciated. Water is perhaps the most vital part of our ecosystem, but it is becoming extremely polluted which in turn is causing disease and hardship for millions. Droughts are also becoming more common and severe.
UCESCO Kenya is an example of a non-profit organization that is responsible for digging holes for sanitation structures, building sanitary water storage units, and assembling water tanks for rainwater collection.
The sustainable volunteering you do in Africa will not go unrewarded. It is a spectacular landscape, filled with some of the kindest people and most awe-inspiring wildlife. However, volunteers are needed to help Africa grow economically, in a way which is sustainable and protective of the incredible wildlife and thriving environment. Whether working directly with wildlife conservationists, energy charities or clean water suppliers, there is plenty of opportunities to make a difference. What are you waiting for!?
To browse through all non-profit opportunities in Africa, please click here.
Written by Freelance Writer, Jenny Holt
We’ve put together a list of 5 volunteer opportunities abroad that are a great fit for college students: Latin American Sea Turtles (LAST) FreeWildlife Celine Brazil Youth in Action Against Poverty and HIV/AIDS (YAAPHA) Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit (CRRU) Colobus Conservation GivingWay offers college students many volunteer opportunities abroad, allowing people to find […]
Wild chinchillas used to roam the coastal regions, hills, and mountains of Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia. By the 1900s, chinchillas were almost extinct. Ironically, it’s their dense, soft fur, which keeps them warm in extremely high altitudes, that lead to the catastrophic decimation of this species by humans. Between 1800 and 1900, at least […]
In the process of realizing GivingWay, we were almost immediately confronted with one of the most debated issues in the volunteering community: “orphanage volunteering”. While the concept of the GivingWay, as an open platform that enables volunteers and organizations to communicate directly and freely, was unique – it was clear that a certain policy and clear guidelines […]