Social Innovation and Volunteerism
Supporting creative, volunteer-led community development in Uzbekistan
A joint initiative between UNDP and UNV, the ‘Social Innovation and Volunteerism’ project aims to support Uzbekistan’s youth to participate more effectively in community development processes. Key activities include a small grants scheme for community based volunteer projects, the development of a central platform for volunteering opportunities, and the delivery of relevant trainings.
Project in depth
Economic development Category: Social Enterprise Development
Education Category: Education and Outreach
IT and communication Category: Training
The vital role volunteers play in empowered and resilient communities, as well as in working towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, has been recognised by several UN resolutions and referred to personally by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. However, despite Uzbekistan's rich tradition of ‘Hashar’ (mutual-help community groups), the concepts of volunteerism and voluntary community service are not yet widely known practised in the country. As a result, youth in Uzbekistan are missing out on the benefits of volunteering such as increased confidence and employability, while communities in turn do not benefit from the valuable contribution volunteers can make to local development processes. Against this background, the project works to enable a culture of volunteerism throughout Uzbekistan. Special emphasis is put on introducing the concept of social innovation as a tool to support volunteer initiatives and to lay the fundaments for more social entrepreneurialism.
There are currently 7 project staff active in Tashkent, including 3 National UN Volunteers and one International UN Volunteer. Project activities in Tashkent are focused (1) on advocating for and building countrywide networks and platforms for social innovation and volunteerism and (2) on developing, piloting and documenting youth-led activities. The project is represented in pilot regions through Community Volunteer Coordinators, engaging local youth with the help of knowledge products developed by the Tashkent team. Pilot regions include Jizzakh, Namangan, Nukus and Muynak.
Activities completed during 2013:
- The competitive selection of 17 youth groups to receive the equivalent of $1,500 through a small grants scheme, and the training of successful applicants on project development, to help them contribute locally to achieving Millennium Development Goals outcomes;
-The development of a Volunteer’s Code of Conduct, the launch of a Volunteers' web portal, and the launch of a Volunteerism Promotion Campaign, to support the growth of volunteerism in Uzbekistan;
-The organisation of two training on social innovation, with the help of international experts, to make their knowledge locally available;
-The organisation of a tourism contest to attract tourists to Uzbekistan’s under-promoted regions, as well as to improve the capacities of participants by providing them with IT equipment and media training;
-The production of training manuals addressing personal and professional development topics including project management, MDGs and social entrepreneurship, and to increase the employability of youth;
- The launching of debate and discussion clubs throughout Uzbekistan, to allow youth to improve their abilities in expressing and defending their opinions;
- The establishment of regular Café Scientique events, where interested members of the public can discuss scientific topics with broader social relevance
Activities planned for 2014:
- The competitive selection of a second batch of 17 youth groups to receive the equivalent of $1,500 through a small grants scheme, and the training of successful applicants on project development, to help them contribute locally to achieving Millennium Development Goals outcomes;
- The establishment of a social innovation lab in, to serve as a physical space providing the necessary equipment and know-how needed to undertake social innovation projects;
- The further integration of youth into official tourism promotion platforms;
- The development of educational material on the fundamentals of parliamentarianism, to raise awareness of this topic;
-The establishment of a Youth Council in the Muynak city of Karakalpakstan, under the city Khokimyiat (regional government), to enhance the voice of youth in the region;
- Scaling up and ensuring sustainability of project activities developed in Tashkent throughout pilot regions
The main goal of the project is to create an enabling environment for volunteerism, with focus on volunteering for local development outcomes. As a result of the project, volunteers and youth in particular will be better informed about development challenges, and will have the knowledge and tools needed to successfully address them at a local level. The project’s social innovation lab and small grants scheme will support groups of proactive individuals in launching their own initiatives, while a central web platform will provide access to information and volunteering opportunities.
- Promote and enhance the role of volunteers in community, regional and national development processes
- Develop the capacities, skills and abilities of volunteers and volunteer organisations
- Empower and support concrete groups of volunteers to participate in community development processes
- Introduce and raise awareness about social innovation as a tool for inclusive development
- Facilitate social innovation through training events, grants and the creation of an innovation lab
Considerations about the sustainability of the project’s key objectives are emphasised at each implementation stage:
-Initiatives such as the Social Innovation Lab or Debates Training are developed and implemented in close collaboration with well-established partners who can guarantee the continuity of project activities.
-The project works to build the capacities of national partners. This will ensure that partner organisations such as the Kamalot (national youth network) are in a strong position to advocate for and promote volunteerism in the future.
-The project works to establish a set of national best practice standards. Developed through dialogue with national partners, both a code of conduct for volunteers and a toolkit addressing the responsibilities of volunteer-employing organisations will help to build a lasting framework for volunteerism in Uzbekistan.
- The project works to provide training and awareness-raising to a large number of individuals throughout Uzbekistan, with the intention that these individuals will act as multipliers within their own social networks. This will ensure progress towards an enabling cultural environment for volunteer action and social innovation in Uzbekistan.
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