7 Ways You Can Volunteer In Africa for Free

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Africa is an amazing place to do volunteer work. Whether it‘s as part of a gap year, as a career break or an extended vacation, if you want to give something back whilst traveling around Africa, volunteering is a great choice. However, most volunteering organisations charge hundreds or thousands of dollars. There must be a way a volunteer in Africa without having to pay huge fees!?

There is! We’ve put together a list of the top ways you can volunteer across Africa, for free!

Peace Corps

A great way to volunteer in Africa for free is with the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps is an independent volunteer scheme ran by the US government that provides volunteers to overseas development projects. With positions all over Africa, a Peace Corps posting is a great way to get volunteer experience.

Founded in 1961, the Peace Corps is one of the most established volunteer organisations in the world.

The Peace Corps has a wide range of opportunities in Africa that are free to join. With postings available in countries such as Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and Senegal, the Peace Corps is one of the best organisations offering free volunteer positions in Africa.

The Peace Corps does not charge people to volunteer, so it is a great option if you want to live and work in Africa without paying volunteer fees.

Peace Corps volunteers work on development projects across Africa that address community needs. These can include projects on healthcare, education, environment, agriculture, community development and youth development. Volunteers with Peace Corps can choose from a range of positions depending on their skills, experience and goals.

Joining the Peace Corps is a great way to volunteer in Africa for free.

Duration

Peace Corps volunteer postings last two years. There is also an additional three months of training at the beginning of your mission that takes place after your arrival in country.

Allowance

When volunteering with the Peace Corps you receive free return flights, medical and dental insurance, a monthly living allowance and housing. You also receive technical and language training and an additional allowance upon completing the posting to assist with readjusting to your home country.

Requirements

To volunteer with the Peace Corps there are only two core requirements. Volunteers must be a US citizen and be over 18 years of age. You also cannot have any previous work experience with the CIA.

How To Apply

Applications to the Peace Corps should be made through their website. Browse open volunteer positions and submit an application. You need to submit your health history as part of your application.

Volunteers are interviewed and, if offered a position, must provide additional legal and medical information. Peace Corps volunteers go through an onboarding process and training upon arriving on their mission.

There is no fee to volunteer with the Peace Corps.

Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)

Another great option for volunteering in Africa without having to pay is with the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) programme.

VSO is essentially the UK’s equivalent to Peace Corps. With programmes in 15 countries across the continent, VSO has a huge range of opportunities for those who want to volunteer in Africa. It’s also free to volunteer with VSO.

VSO offers free volunteer postings in many Africa countries. These include Ethiopia, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. VSO volunteers join sustainable development programmes aimed at empowering people living in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Volunteers with VSO are not charged a fee, so it is a great option for those who want to volunteer in Africa without paying programme fees.

There are three core areas VSO programmes focus on. These are education, healthcare and livelihoods. VSO volunteers can join projects including agriculture and natural resources, business and management engineering and IT and technology. VSO also has projects across Africa working on policy and research, communications and fundraising and teaching and education. If you want to volunteer in Africa for free, explore the opportunities on offer with VSO.

Duration

Volunteer assignments with VSO last for two years.

Allowance

Whilst on a VSO volunteer placement you will receive a local living allowance. VSO also covers the cost of travel, accommodation, visas and vaccinations. They also offer medical and dental insurance. VSO volunteers receive meals whilst working and also get extensive training opportunities.

Requirements

Applicants to volunteer with VSO must meet the following criteria:

  • Be between 18-75 years old
  • Have 3 years professional experience
  • A degree or equivalent qualification
  • Pass a health exam and criminal background check
  • Commit to the full duration of your placement

How To Apply

You can browse open volunteer positions on the VSO website. Applications are done online. Following successful interviews, VSO will complete background checks and medical exams.

EU Aid Volunteers

EU Aid Volunteers is the Europeans Unions overseas voluntary scheme. Its’ free to volunteer with and has opportunities across Africa.

With a particular focus on deploying volunteers in humanitarian responses, joining EU Aid Volunteers is a great way to start a career in international aid whilst not having to pay to volunteer. The scheme is open to people from across the EU.

Volunteers on EU Aid Volunteer programmes are deployed to work in international NGOs. They provide practical support to aid projects and use their skills to build local capacity. Taking a posting with EU Aid Volunteers is a good choice for those with some professional experience and are interested in working with disaster affected communities.

Volunteer opportunities with EU Aid Volunteers are free and they have options in many African countries.

Joining EU Aid Volunteers allows you to gain first-hand experience within humanitarian organisations. The types of volunteering opportunities vary widely and can focus on humanitarian assistance, recovery, resilience, community development and civil protection.

EU Aid Volunteers are not charged, and with opportunities across Africa, it’s a great option for those wanting to volunteer on the continent without having to pay.

Duration

Volunteer missions with EU Aid Volunteers last from between 1 and 18 months. The exact duration of the volunteer posting is detailed in the listing and volunteers are expected to commit to the full length of time.

Allowance

EU Aid Volunteers get a monthly stipend, accommodation and free travel. You also get insurance covered and training and development opportunities. There is also a resettlement allowance to assist with returning home.

Requirements

Applicants to become an EU Aid Volunteer must be over 18 and a citizen of an EU member state. Each volunteer vacancy also has specific requirements that must be met.

How To Apply

Applications to the EU Aid Volunteer programme are made through the online platform. There is a two weeks training course as part of the selection process.

UN Volunteers

Another great way to volunteer in Africa for free is through with UN Volunteers. This is the United Nations volunteer programme and they have posting in many countries across Africa.

UN Volunteers assist projects supporting peace and development with a focus on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. There are over 8,000 UN Volunteers worldwide, many on deployments in Africa.

UN volunteers join ongoing United Nations missions. There are many fantastic UN Volunteer opportunities across Africa. Doing a UN Volunteer placement is an especially good option if you are looking to start a career in the United Nations. You are also not charged to do the UN Volunteer programme, so it is a great free option for people looking to volunteer abroad.

The UN Volunteer programme has a huge range of roles. These include project support, peace building, education, hunger eradication, water and sanitation and climate change.  

There are a wide range of UN Volunteer positions across Africa making the programme a great option for those wanting to volunteer and gain prestigious experience within the UN.

Duration

Initial contracts for UN Volunteers are usually for 6 or 12 months. There are possibilities to extend volunteer posting for up to two years. There are also some short-term postings of three months or less.

Allowance

Whilst deployed on a UN Volunteer placement, you receive a monthly living allowance, travel expenses and insurance cover. There is also a ‘settling-in’ grant that is paid at the beginning of the placement and a resettlement grant paid at the end.

UN Volunteers are entitled to annual leave during their placement.

Requirements

The requirements for UN Volunteers include a university degree or higher education diploma. Some UN Volunteer postings will also require a masters degree. Applicants need two years’ work experience. Applicants also need good working knowledge either English, French or Spanish. To apply to be a UN Volunteer you must be over 25 years of age.

Each UN Volunteer posting may have its own specific requirements.

How To Apply

UN Volunteer positions are listed on their website. Sign-up to the online platform and browse open positions. After submitting an application, successful candidates will need to pass an interview stage.

Workaway

Workaway is a fantastic way to volunteer in Africa for free.

Workaway connects volunteers with homestay opportunities. Volunteers contribute an agreed amount of work per day in exchange for room and board. There are a huge range of Work Away opportunities across Africa and it is a great way for budget travellers to volunteer on many different types of projects.

There are Workaway options in 34 countries across Africa.

The ideal of Work Away is that of cultural exchange. Many Workaway volunteer opportunities are free, as volunteers exchange a day’s work for lodging and food. Some Workaway hosts may charge a small fee, but it is significantly less than the major international volunteer companies would charge.

For those looking to volunteer in Africa for free, definitely check out Workaway. There are huge range of volunteer positions, including farming, hostel work, teaching, construction, environmental and climate action and childcare.

Workaway has free volunteer placements across Africa, including in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania.

Duration

Volunteer placements on Workaway vary in length. Many hosts will state on their listing how long they expect volunteers to stay. However, it is possible to negotiate directly with each host depending on how long you want your volunteer placement to be.

Most Workaway volunteer placements last from a few weeks to a few months.

Allowance

When volunteering with Workaway you do not normally receive an allowance. This means you will need your own money to cover any additional expenses above lodging and food. On the other hand, Workaway hosts also don’t charge you like the big international volunteer organisations, so it is a much cheaper way to volunteer.

Some hosts offer a small payment or minimum wage to volunteers. This should be stated on their listing.

Requirements

The main requirements for volunteering with Workaway are to be over 18 years of age. Volunteer positions may list additional requirements.

How To Apply

To volunteer with Workaway you need to sign-up through their website. There is a cost of 56 USD per year. Once signed-up, prospective volunteers can browse and contact hosts directly. There are no actual charges when volunteering with Workaway.

WWOOF

WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. WWOOFing is another great way that you can volunteer in Africa for free.

WOOF volunteers work on farms in exchange for food a lodging. WWOOFing is based on free exchange and WWOOF hosts do not charge their volunteers. There are opportunities to work on farms across Africa and if you’re interested in doing an agriculture volunteer placement, definitely check out WWOOFing.

If you are looking to volunteer in Africa for free, WWOOFing has some amazing opportunities. With hosts in many African countries including Uganda, Guinea, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Malawi and South Africa.

WWOOFing volunteers take on a wide range agriculture tasks including harvesting, construction, irrigation, and sowing. The exact volunteer work depends on the host and the size of their farm.

Established in 1971, WWOOFing has a long history of providing free volunteer placements around the world. It’s a fantastic way to volunteer if you don’t want to spend money or are on a budget. There are WWOOFing hosts in 24 Africa countries offering a huge range of free opportunities for volunteers.

Duration

WWOOFing volunteer placements vary in length, usually from couple of weeks to a few months. You can negotiate directly with hosts on the duration of your placement when you contact them through the WWOOFing website.

Allowance

When volunteer through WWOOFing you do not normally receive an allowance. However, WWOOF hosts do not charge volunteers. As long as you can cover your costs above food and a place to stay, WWOOFing is a great way to volunteer for free.

Requirements

The only official requirement for WWOOFing volunteers is to be over 18 years of age. Each host can set their own requirements depending on the kind of volunteers they are looking for and the kind of work they will do.

How To Apply

WWOOFing is non-centralised and there are many different WWOOFing organisations. One of the main websites is wwoof.net. Most WWOOFing sites allow you sign-up for a small fee and then browse hosts. You can then contact them directly to arrange a volunteer placement. WWOOFing volunteers are not charged to volunteer.

Help Stay

HelpStay is another great place to look for free volunteer opportunities in Africa.

HelpStay connects volunteer ‘helpers’ with hosts. Hosts provide volunteers with room and board and in exchange volunteers do a set-amount of work each day. There are HelpStay projects across Africa meaning it’s definitely a good place to look if you want volunteer there for free.

Volunteers on HelpStay projects can do a huge variety of work. From helping in hostels, bartending, childcare, teaching, cooking, to helping in the community and environmental work.

HelpStay has hosts in many Africa countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia. Each HelpStay host is unique so be sure to browse through the projects on offer.

HelpStay is fantastic place to search for free volunteer placements in Africa. HelpStay hosts either don’t charge their volunteers, or only request a small amount to cover basic costs. This means HelpStay is great for those wanting to volunteer in Africa for free, as well as travellers on a limited budget.

Duration

HelpStay volunteers usually stay for one or two weeks up to a couple of months. You can discuss directly with hosts through the website exactly how long you want to stay and how long they need volunteers for.

Allowance

Most HelpStay hosts do not provide finances to their volunteers. However, it is free to volunteer with HelpStay.

Requirements

HelpStay volunteers need to be over 18 years of age. Each volunteer placement is likely to have its own requirements.

How To Apply

To volunteer with HelpStay, begin by signing up to their website. You need to pay a yearly fee of around 30 EUR, this is the only charge for volunteers though. Once you’ve signed up, you can view volunteering opportunities and contact hosts directly.

Duncan

Duncan is the founder of Humanitarian Careers. With over 8 years experience in the aid industry across fifteen countries, Duncan set-up Humanitarian Careers to help people launch their own career in international aid.