MESSAGE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE ECOWAS COMMISSION
ON THE COMMEMORATION OF THE 13TH EDITION OF THE
ECOWAS VOLUNTEERS DAY
26 MARCH 2023
Today, the ECOWAS Volunteers Programme celebrates its 13th Anniversary. Every year, on March 26, we commemorate ECOWAS Volunteers Day (EVD).
Since its official launch in Monrovia, Liberia on 26 March 2010, the ECOWAS Volunteers Programme has devoted time, resources and expertise to promoting regional unity, peace, and development through volunteerism. Our volunteers, young male and female Community citizens, have kept faith with the ECOWAS vision of a community of people supporting people, and demonstrated their collective conviction that peace-building and reconciliation can be useful development tools for establishing peace in member States and across our region.
Originally intended as a mechanism for development support to post-conflict member States, the ECOWAS Volunteers Programme, following a successful pilot phase in four countries, has expanded its coverage and operations to enable any, and indeed all, ECOWAS member States, as well as interested national and international partners that so request, to receive volunteers in their own specific areas of need.
As the first truly regional volunteer programme that engages fifteen sovereign States in any given geographical region, our Programme has grown to become a model that other volunteer programmes look up to. Our Programme has provided the template upon which other regions are building similar initiatives. Our volunteer programme model supports regional integration efforts and contributes to the national and social development agenda of member States by building on the skills and expertise of our young people, the bedrock of our long-term development objectives. It harnesses the knowledge and diverse experiences of our qualified young men and women, to act as change agents who foster the economic and social advancement of their host communities.
Over the past 13 years, ECOWAS has collaborated with various international, regional and local volunteer groups to give young people the opportunity to participate in community service and support the growth of their host communities. The programme has deployed over 200 volunteers drawn from at least 13 member States of ECOWAS, to work in a variety of critical development sectors, including education, health, gender, agriculture, youth and sports and general administration, among others. Their efforts have impacted the lives of thousands of our citizens across beneficiary member States, and their engagements and community services have sharpened their individual skills and made them better qualified and committed professionals.
With the theme: “Volunteers, Agents of Social Cohesion and Promotion of the Culture of Peace in the Face of Insecurity in the ECOWAS Region”, this year’s celebration of the ECOWAS Volunteers Day (EVD) offers the opportunity to reflect on our constant search for peace in our region and to identify relevant strategies to strengthen the resilience of our communities in the face of growing insecurity. This theme reminds us that each stakeholder must act individually and collectively to support the community through their skills and know-how.
In a regional context of violent extremism that threatens social cohesion and weakens the integration of communities, the involvement of young people in the process of solutions-searching is a priority for ECOWAS. It is therefore, appropriate that we celebrate the acts of courage of the young volunteers of our regional community who embody the best of the region and who defend the actions of sustainable development and the search for peace.
Considering the importance of social cohesion and the culture of peace in our region, there is a need for sustained commitment from ECOWAS Member States alongside the volunteers who play an extraordinary role in the search for solutions in the face of new and emerging challenges. And given the positive impact of volunteering on community development, I encourage member States to promote volunteerism to involve young people and harness their valuable contributions in the process of preventing and resolving conflicts for sustainable development.
This year, as part of the celebration of the ECOWAS Volunteers Day (EVD), the ECOWAS Volunteers Programme is organising a Schools Debate Championship which will focus on the achievements of ECOWAS in member States. The Championship seeks to foster the growth of young leaders, while providing students with the assurance and direction they need to sharpen their oratory and analytical skills.
The ECOWAS Commission is proud to celebrate 13 years of service to the Community through the Volunteers Programme and remains committed to the mission of fostering regional integration and growth. Today, we can express our satisfaction with the Programme’s contribution to fostering a better understanding of issues of African integration and the promotion of peace. Our resolutely committed young people have been vectors and builders of awareness on peace and national reconciliation, which are essential tools for the development and integration of peoples. The programme has contributed to building adaptability, patience, team spirit, confidence and determination in volunteers in the face of challenges related to regional integration and the promotion of the peace.
I salute all ECOWAS Volunteers and all who volunteer across all member States for the betterment of our Community!
Happy ECOWAS Volunteers Day 2023!
PASSION – MOTIVATION – ACTION!
Dr. Omar Alieu Touray
26 March 2023.