In this section, you will learn more about the 4 African partners of the project and about the development of SCI and IVS in the African continent.

African partners

The history of SCI development in Africa 

In the previous sections, we learned that SCI was created in Europe after the First World War, when the first workcamp was organised in Esnes near Verdun (France) in 1920. After more than 100 years since its foundation, SCI cooperates today with several organisations based all over the world.

Go to the “Materials” tab to learn more about SCI’s development in four regions of the African continent: Northern Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa, Eastern Africa. Enjoy reading!


Here you can know more about the SCI development in four regions of the African continent: Northern Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa, Eastern Africa. Enjoy reading!


Ralph Hegenauer, the former Secretary of SCI, recalled SCI activities in Africa since the late 1940s. Precisely, in 1947, Pierre Martin, a French SCI-member and a conscientious objector, went to Algeria to provide project support. He discovered a fertile ground and therefore helped to found an SCI group which worked in the Berber areas (constructing schools and digging water channels for the community). Until 1962, when peace returned after the civil war that broke out in 1953 in Algeria, SCI could not continue the exchange programme in the country. The local organizations that SCI worked with at this period were Front de la Liberation, Union Generale des Travailleurs Algerians (UGTA) and Algerian Youth Voluntary Association (Jeunes Traivailleurs Voluntaire Algerians) which was formed in 1965. About 50 SCI-volunteers participated in the first project in Algeria.

By 1974, another active organization called Union Nationale de la Jeunesse Algerians emerged by local law to replace all other organizations earlier existed before it. This organisation played an essential role in increasing the volunteer exchange in the North African region. The activities were further extended to Morocco and Tunisia especially during the camp at Larmasa in Tunisia in 1962. During this period, SCI also cooperated with the Comité National du Volontariat in Tunisia.

In Morocco the camp organized by UMAC in 1963 (Union Marocaine des Associations des Chantiers) involved other groups of voluntary organizations which shared the same ideology of SCI. By 1970, the Comité Maghrebien du Volontariat was founded, a union of Algerian, Tunisia and Moroccan voluntary organizations. The Maghreb Volunteer Committee was set up to facilitate the exchange of some 3000/4000 volunteers each year with North Africa and between the whole region and Europe.

As such the activities were only confined to Algeria and by extension to Morocco and Tunisia for about few decades. In the following decades, SCI has cooperated and currently exchanges volunteers with the following organizations in the Mediterranean region: 

  • UMAC (Union Marocaine des Associations de Chantiers)
  • TOUIZA, 
  • CSM (Chantiers Sociaux Marocains), 
  • ACIM (Amis des Chantiers Internationaux de Meknès)
  • ATVC (Association de Travail Volontaire et Culturel)
  • ACJ (Association des Chantiers de Jeunesse), 
  • ATVC (Association de Travail Volontaire et Culturel), 
  • CJM (Chantiers Jeunesse Maroc), 
  • CJV (Chantiers des Jeunes Volontaires), 
  • Association Mouvement TWIZA, 
  • JEC (Jeunesse et Coopération), 
  • ATAV (Association Tunisienne de l’Action Volontaire), 
  • UTAIM (Union Tunisienne d’Aide aux Insuffisants Mentaux)
  • P. et C. (Pensée et Chantiers)

2 Expansion to West Africa

The introduction of SCI in Southern Africa features unique elements. The National Union of Students and Young Brigades contributed with strong enthusiasm in the start-up phase of the movement. In the 1960s, a number of workcamps were held at the Progressive Swaneng School, Botswana. About 25 volunteers worked in various fields ranging from teaching in secondary schools to placement of volunteers into governmental development projects in Botswana. At this point few activities initiated for workcamp exchange in Lesotho were stalled and by 1977 the interest was revived again by Basotho energetic youths and encouraged by the presence of a full-time IVS field officer. Other projects were carried out in the agriculture, health and community development sectors. In Botswana, the International Voluntary Service movement gave strong support to the Brigades team through training schemes for young people to meet the needs of underprivileged communities. The Botswana Workcamp Association became very active and alive again from 1979 when it was relaunched at Mochundi. The first volunteer from Europe went to Mozambique in 1980. Equally important to note is that in 1959, Tony Lynes, an IVS member, investigated the possibility of sending volunteers to Mauritius.; consequently, on 11th May 1960, John Beckett and Patrick Alexander went to Mauritius to start up the project there. They both worked with International Building Companions of Mauritius to realize these objectives. This episode marks the beginning of the SCI exchange in Mauritius

The partners in the area initiated a regional union called Southern African Workcamp Cooperation (SAWC). The SCI partners in Southern Africa are: 

  • Botswana Workcamps Association - BWA;
  • Zimbabwe Workcamp Association - ZWA;
  • Associação Juvenil Para o Desenvolvimento do Voluntariado em Moçambique - AJUDE;
  • Youth Association of Zambia (YAZ);
  • Lesotho Workcamps Association - LWA;
  • Swaziland Workcamps Association – SWCA.


Voluntary activities swiftly entered into Eastern Africa through Kenya in the 1950s. The good work and success of the camps in the subsequent years enabled the movement to spread worldwide. In Kenya the first work camp was organized in 1956 with the support of the British and American Quakers. Subsequently, several other camps were held and in May 1962, and the Kenya Voluntary Workcamps Association was formed to carry on the mandate. The name changed to Kenya Voluntary Development Association in 1969 to widen the scope and diversify operations in the entire development spectrum with international voluntary service exchange as the core-competence of the association. In 1978, International group of SCI went to Tanzania and founded the first organization called Umoja wa Vijana (Youth League), which survived until mid 1970 when it suddenly disappeared. UVIKIUTA, a Youth development organization established in 1983, came into existence as a response to the young people needs to raise their living standards. This desire could have best met through establishments of youth settlement and self-help projects to provide income, employment and shelters. 

Presently, SCI had only three partners in Eastern Africa:

  • KVDA in Kenya, 
  • UGDA in Uganda 
  • UVIKIUTA in Tanzania)
  • The Network movement operating in the Eastern Africa is called Eastern Africa Workcamps Association (EAWA).


It was between mid year 1957 that IVS (the SCI Branch in the United Kingdom) sent out the first volunteers on exchange to West Africa (in Ghana and in Togo) where some sort of voluntary service bodies were being set up. This foundation was strongly supported in Ghana by Gordon Green, an executive member of IVS-Great Britain. A West Africa Leadership training for volunteers and camp coordinators, held in Ghana and attended by representatives from 15 countries, was instrumental for the success of this first development in the region. 

VOLU Ghana was founded in 1958, ASTOVOCT in Togo was formed in 1961 and VWAN in Nigeria came into existence in 1963. These trios became the first three West African organizations that survived the training until after 1970 when other associations began to emerge.

Gradually, during early 1960s, in response to specific requests from local communities and governmental interests, supported by substantial financial support obtained through the British Volunteer Programme, IVS-GB placed quite a number of long term volunteers in various African countries including the region south of the sub-Sahara. Except for Eastern Africa, SCI presence in Africa was fairly widespread. It was in Northern and Western Africa that SCI became known as an international movement until the mid seventies, when it began to spread to other parts of the continent.

In 1968 the International Africa Committee (IAC) appointed Benny Dembitzer to undertake a study tour in the field of voluntary service to Africa, His task was to consolidate the various efforts already made while seeking new partners especially in West Africa. During this period, most of the work was done in the West. Between 1970 and 1971 some International Training Seminars were held at regional levels. One of these was held in Ghana (organized by VWAG, ASTOVOCT and VWAN) with the participation of 13 organizations including delegates from North Africa. Eventually, this resulted in the creation of the first regional network called Union of West African Voluntary Workcamps Association (UWAVWA).

In order to sustain the coordination of the group, a permanent delegate in person of Gerzon Gu-Konu from Togo was appointed for the West, who was also working from Paris,  alongside with Jean Pierre Petit for the Northern African region. By 1978, Gerzon Gu-Konu was appointed as delegate to coordinate African groups and left by 1980 as West African delegate. He was replaced by Gideon Akhator, a former VOLU-Ghana member. Gideon worked from his office at Ho, Ghana as regional coordinator until 1983 when he finally left the stage. In a view to improve the quality of exchange, especially in West Africa, another study tour was organised. Between 1st and 31st December 1988, a 6.member team was initiated by the International Africa Committee to survey the partners and evaluate their performance. The team members were An Ross (the SEED Coordinator), Andy Egan  (IVS-GB), Augustyn Wyss (SCI-Switzerland), Dominique Carre (SCI-France), Iris Schumacher  (SCI-Germany) and Joelle Soret (from CAAL, then Coordinator of SCI-France).

The development of organisations in the West African region was a result of workcamp leader training under the auspices of SCI. Here below is a timeline of the most relevant events:

  • 1958: 15 participant attended the first training in Ghana;
  • 1962: 18 delegates took part the second Training/Seminar in Lome, Togo;
  • 1971: 13 participants attended the third training course in Ghana which gave birth to UWAVWA; 
  • 1972: 30 delegates at the Regional meeting held in Nouvel Outsou, Ivory Coast;
  • 1973: Leadership Training / Regional meeting at Porto – Novo, Benin. The Executive  Director of World Council of Churches, Archi Lemon, was present.

Within the years 1970 and 1974, the Commission Afrique-Asia was developed to promote South – South exchange and sharing good practices on volunteering exchange between the Asian and the African continents.

As of 2023 SCI has carried out projects and sent volunteers to the following organisations:

  •  VOLU (Voluntary Workcamp Association of Ghana), 
  • ASTOVOT (Association Togolaise des Volontaires au Travail), 
  • VWAN (Voluntary Workcamps Association of Nigeria)
  • VWASL (Voluntary Workcamps Association of Sierra Leone)
  • DUNArts et Cultures - Ivory Coast, 
  • Fenagie- pêche, 
  • Les Ententes-Senegal,
  • UJFraD (Union de la Jeunesse Fraternelle de Diébougou), Burkina Faso, Benin.


In November 1985, when SCI coordination with West Africa could not work successfully as a result of financial difficulty, following the recommendation of the SCI International Executive Committee,  a coordinator was appointed for the international exchanges, development education and solidarity work. The IAC (International Africa Committee) which existed with the joint efforts of African support groups was responsible for development and exchanges. By 1987, a commission called SEED (Solidarity, Exchange, and Education for Development) was set up to increase and coordinate the exchange between the North and South of the world. In the same period, SCI launched the international solidarity campaign  “Namibia Solidarity for Change” which aimed at raising awareness of the situation of the Namibian population which was at that time lacking international attention.

In 1998 the African Working Group (AWG) was set up by different branches of SCI to improve the cooperation between the SCI branches and the African partner organizations, with a specific objective of improving the knowledge of various complexities that existed in Africa placement at the time. The Africa Working Group currently works with local African NGOs who carry out different activities at local, national and international level, sharing aims and objectives, and creating meaningful opportunities to discover new links, cooperation and common projects.

The Africa Working Group is thus the meeting point between SCI, its branches and NGO partners based in Africa. An Annual event called North-South Platform Meeting brings the SCI branches and its organisations and partners in the Global South together to discuss their common project, procedures and cooperation.

Presently, the recognized Southern sub-regional network structures are Eastern Africa Workcamps Association Network (EAWA), West African Voluntary Association Network (WAVAN formerly called UWAVWA), Southern African Workcamps Co-operation (SAWC).