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Essential Volunteering Stories

Welcome to CENFACS’ Online Diary!

20 May 2020


Post No. 144



The Week’s Contents


• All in Development Stories Telling Serial 3 – In Focus for Week Beginning 18/05/2020: Essential Volunteering Stories

Integrating the Covid-19 Anti-coronavirus Measures into Triple Value Initiatives (or All Year Round Projects)

Covid-19 and Impact Monitoring and Evaluation


… and much more!



Win this Virtual Trophy of Poverty Reduction this Pandemic Year!


To win it, please contact CENFACS.



Key Messages


~ All in Development Stories Telling Serial 3 – In Focus for Week Beginning 18/05/2020: Essential Volunteering Stories


Our May Stories Telling Programme is now entering its third week with Serial 3.  Serial 3 is about stories related to volunteering situations, particularly but not solely the kinds of voluntary work that one is doing or can do during the coronavirus pandemic time.  It is called Essential Volunteering.

Under the Main Development section of this post, we have provided the types of Essential Volunteering Stories we are expecting and taking.  Please read this section to get the idea of what we are talking about before submitting or donating your volunteering story. 




~ Integrating the Covid-19 Anti-coronavirus Measures into Triple Value Initiatives (or All Year Round Projects)


In our post no. 142   of 6 May 2020, we briefly exemplified the way in which one can break out the vicious circle of Covid-19 lockdown while still respecting the anti-coronavirus measures and restrictions.

This week, we are going further with the integration of the anti-coronavirus measures and restrictions into Triple Value Initiatives.  We would like to use the example or initiative of Run to Reduce Poverty to do that.


Let say, we have a scenario of two people who decide to physically run outside as part of triple-value running activity.  They want to do it while respecting the anti-coronavirus measures and restrictions.  They are wondering how to undertake this triple-value running activity.  What can they do?


They can essentially running while staying alert, controlling the virus and saving lives.  How?  The answer is given by the above sketch or drawing.

It is possible to continue this integration process with the other two triple value initiatives (Play and Vote), although it will be completely different.  Anyone who is having some problems in doing this integration, they can contact CENFACS for support.

For any query about the integration of Triple Value Initiatives, please contact CENFACS.




~ Covid-19 and Impact Monitoring and Evaluation


This week, we are continuing with the analysis of the impact of Covid-19 on CENFACS’ 2020 (s) Poverty Reduction Tools, Development Agenda and Programme.  Because we are talking about impact monitoring and evaluation, we are also looking at the impact of Covid-19 on our 2020-2063 Follow up Programme

We are working on their impact monitoring and evaluation.  Before giving you the idea of our impact monitoring and evaluation, let us briefly explain what we mean by monitoring and evaluation.  We are going to borrow their definitions from the World Bank.

The World Bank (1) argues

“Monitoring is a continuous process that tracks what is happening within a program and uses the data collected to inform program implementation and day-to-day management and decisions…

Evaluations are periodic, objective assessments of a planned, on-going, or completed project, program, or policy. Evaluations are used selectively to answer specific questions related to design, implementation, and results. In contrast to continuous monitoring, they are carried out at discrete points in time and often seek an outside perspective from technical experts.” 

Referencing to this perspective from the World Bank, monitoring is a continuous process whereas evaluation is discontinuous and carried out at discrete timely points.  So, by applying these definitions we are going to monitor and evaluate the impact caused by the Covid-19 disruption to CENFACS’ work.


=> Impact on CENFACS’ 2020 (s) Poverty Reduction Tools, Development Agenda and Poverty Reduction Programme

Covid-19 impact assessment is about changes in CENFACS’ 2020 (s) Poverty Reduction Tools, Development Agenda and Poverty Reduction Programme, as well as structures of our other projects and programme as a result the Covid-19 outbreak.

The focus will be on measurable changes while not ignoring the causality of changes.

To guide our assessment work on the Covid-19 Impact, we will identify the following:

√ Key changes that happened or will happen to our tools, agenda, programme and beneficiaries

√ Key changes in our other projects, activities and events

√ How cost-effective CENFACS has been in dealing with these changes and in capturing the Covid-19 impact in terms of poverty reduction and sustainable development

As said above, the focus is not to ignore the causality of changes.  Therefore, the impact evaluation (causal effect) of Covid-19 seeks to answer a specific cause-and-effect question and changes directly attributable to Covid-19.  

This question could be this one: what is the causal effect of Covid-19 on CENFACS’ performance or application of the 2020 (s) tools, development agenda and poverty reduction programme?

This is the basic evaluation question we can ask and try to answer since our focus is on causality and attribution.  This is the impact evaluation method we have chosen.


=> Impact on 2020-2063 Follow up (XX236.3F) Programme

It is the Monitoring and Evaluation of the Climate Change Reduction, Having Poverty, Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda under the Constraint of Covid-19.

The 2020-2063 Follow up (XX236.3F) Programme is a CENFACS’ programme of monitoring and evaluation of aims, goals and targets set up to achieve in the context of:

climate change reduction by the Paris Treaty on Climate Change

Having Poverty by 2011 Istanbul Declaration of Least Developed Countries

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Agenda 2030

and Africa’s Agenda 2063 by the African Union.


We are taking the opportunity of this week’s monitoring and evaluation activity to look at two things:

√ How Covid-19 has impacted CENFACS’ 2020-2063 Follow up (XX236.3F) Programme

√ How Covid-19 will impact the progress made so far regarding the implementation of these global and African goals and agendas since some of them affect our work and are related to the issues we constantly advocate.

To enquire the Covid-19 Impact Monitoring and Evaluation, please contact CENFACS.

(1) https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/25030/9781464807794.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y (accessed May 2020)






Extra Messages


~ Stories of environmental impacts of Covid-19


It is already known that the lockdown has brought some positive common effects on the environment such as less noise, less car and factory pollution, reductions of CO2 emissions, clean air in major cities, reduction of non-essential polluted production and consumption, reduction of electricity used etc.  We have already stories with these effects; stories and news which we have heard so far.

Besides these general and collective environmental benefits and their stories, there are other stories linked to other changes.  This second nature of stories could be of various types as follows.


=> Environmental stories linked to protective items against Covid-19

These are the stories stemming from the growing production and consumption of some types of items made to delay the spread and slow the pace of Covid-19.  For example: the production and consumption of non-reusable facial masks, plastic gloves, anti-bacterial hand gels, other personal protective equipment, etc. 

The story behind them is: how humans are recycling these products.  Are they simply thrown away in the nature after use or are they properly collected and recycled?


=> Stories related to stocked items to be recycled

What about all those recycling stores which are closed?  Is the lockdown piling the stock of all recycling items from each household?  This is another story to tell and share.


=> Stories concerning Covid-19 cleaning products

One should not forget the story of all these new types of cleaning products to disinfect (human bodies, buildings, places, properties, transport system, cars, etc.) against the Covid-19.  What is their impact on the environment?  Are those ways of disinfecting the strains or traces of Covid-19 environmentally friendly?


=> Stories of the relationships between humans and the nature

What can you say about the way in which Covid-19 has transformed humans’ relationships with the nature?  Is the lockdown made humans much friendly towards the nature than at any time of any other crisis?  Is there any transformation at all?  Or, after the Covid-19 crisis, business will be as usual in the way humans treat the nature and environment?   

The above are all sorts of stories that one can tell and share about the environmental impacts of Covid-19.  If you have them, please do not hesitate to share with CENFACS your story of environmental impact of Covid-19.

To tell and share your story of environmental impacts of Covid-19, please contact CENFACS.



~ What else inside CENFACS’ Covid-19 Campaign?


It is the return from the lockdown.

Our Covid-19 Campaign or the Campaign for Resilience against Covid-19 is still in phase two.  There are three phases in this Campaign:  Initial Response to Covid-19 (Phase 1), Impact Monitoring and Evaluation of Covid-19 on CENFACS (Phase 2) and Post-coronavirus Rehabilitation Strategies (Phase 3).

The phase two of the Covid-19 Campaign seeks to answer a specific cause-and-effect question about changes directly attributable to Covid-19.  While we are conducting the monitoring and evaluation of the Covid-19 impacts, the lockdown starts easing and the UK economy begins to be reopened. 

Because of that, we too are starting to prepare a bridging service to support some of our supporters and users who will be returning from the lockdown as the lockdown eases and the UK economy is being reopened. 

The service will be a bridge between the lockdown and the new normal situation.  The bridging service (we call it Support for the Returnees from the Lockdown or the Returnees’ service) will be activated as soon as the return from the lockdown becomes real for potential beneficiaries and the returnees seek the service.

For further details about this incoming service (that is the Returnees from the Lockdown), please contact CENFACS.




~ Covid-19 and Stories of Coping and Survival Tactics in Africa


The be.africa (better Africa) forum of thoughts is including in its thoughts of the week the tales of survival and coping tactics from those in most need in Africa, especially at this perilous time of the coronavirus pandemic.

The stories that we are thinking about are those of access and meeting the essential life-sustaining needs in order for those in most need try to save, sustain and rebuild their lives and of those around them. 

There are many stories to tell and share about poverty and how those living it are trying to survive and cope.  The stories we are thinking of are those of accessing water, food, sanitation and of developing skills to reduce the life-threatening and destroying impacts of Covid-19.  However, what are those tactics that have produced the stories we are thinking of.


Survival and coping tactics to reduce poverty and the Covid-19 impacts in Africa

Survival and coping tactics are a set of coordinated means used to reach a result or deliver a strategy.  If the tactics are about continuing to live and exist despite the Covid-19 risky and preventive conditions, they could be called survival ones.  If the tactics are to deal with the Covid-19 situation in a way that can be said acceptable, then they can be coping ones.


What survival and coping tactics try to achieve in the context of reducing the Covid-19 impacts

Those in most need and most vulnerable may use them to secure the basic necessities of life like the following:

√ Water at water points with the hope of storing enough quantity of water to survive against the shortage of water during the lockdown

√ Basic staples or commodities (such as bags of cassava flour or corn flour or rice) to face the Covid-19 food crisis

√ Local soaps and plants to help wash their hands and sanitise themselves and their homes against the Covid-19 germs

√ Basic skills in craft making to produce their own gloves and face coverings to fight Covid-19, especially in places where there is no or very little support from statutory bodies

√ Local medicinal plants and drugs to combat the early symptoms of Covid-19

All these ways of responding to the Covid-19 could help make up stories for both paid labour and volunteers.


Survival and coping tactics as a way of relieving poverty and hardships during the Covid-19 period

These tactics may not be enough to deal with the scale and scope of the economic and health crisis brought by Covid-19.  Although these survival and coping tactics may be of limited scope, they nevertheless help to reduce some symptoms of poverty and hardships even if they may not eradicate them entirely.

To add value to the efforts made by some of people working Africa-based Sister Organisations to their poverty reduction tactics, CENFACS is appealing via its Coronavirus Spring Project for support to help them reduce the life-threatening and destroying impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.  The details of the Coronavirus Spring Project are given at http://cenfacs.org.uk/supporting-us/

The extra or essential message to take from this story line is as follows.  Covid-19 has revived the imagination and ingenuity of local people and communities, particularly but not exclusively the poor ones who do not have any financial bailout to rely on, across Africa. 

They can find their own way to temporarily calm the terrible impacts of Covid-19 through survival and coping tactics.  Although what they are doing is great, it is not enough in front of the scale and deepness of the Covid-19 crisis.  They need some backing to sustain their relief action.  The thoughts on Covid-19 continue…





Main Development


All in Development Stories Telling Serial 3 – In Focus for Week Beginning 18/05/2020: Essential Volunteering Stories


Before listing the types of stories falling under Serial 3, let us define essential volunteering.


• • What is essential volunteering?


First of all, let us try to understand the word volunteering.  To understand it, we are going to take the definition of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).  The NCVO (2) defines volunteering as

“any activity that involves spending time, unpaid, doing something that aims to benefit the environment or someone (individuals or groups) other than, or in addition to, close relatives.  Central to the definition is the fact that volunteering must be a choice freely made by each individual.”

From this definition, one can argue that essential volunteering is an absolutely or extremely important activity involving volunteering or voluntary work.  This activity can be undertaken at any time including of the Covid-19 outbreak. 

During this Covid-19 outbreak, there are many types of voluntary work that one can do and which can lead to various experiences or stories during and at the end of this work.  Let us consider some of these stories.




• • Types of essential volunteering stories


In the context of CENFACS’ All in Development Stories Telling Serial 3, we are expecting and keen to hear the following types of stories:

√ Stories of helping out in your community during the Covid-19 time

√ Stories of keeping services or the economy running

√ Stories of befriending people in isolation or quarantine during the lockdown measures

√ Stories of shopping and delivering domestic items (e.g. food, medicine, cleaning products, etc.) to those in most need and most vulnerable

√ Stories of helping organisations in this difficult time

√ Stories of supporting local communities under the business volunteering scheme



• • How to make your stories to reach CENFACS and others in the community


There are many means or ways in which you can submit or donate your story.  In the context of this Serial 3, there are ways that one can use to do it, which are:

=> Written text options

You can write your story in a textual format.  You can use email, mobile phone, text messing system and CENFACS’ contact form; and send your story in the form of text.

=> Phone calls

You can call CENFACS and give your story via phone.

=> Audio storytelling and listening

You can use the capacity of audio to tell your volunteering story.  Audio storytelling (with short digital narratives, podcasting, social media and online streaming) can help create and share the impact of the change you made or have made.

=> Short film experiences

You can make short films to support your storytelling experiences and create a social impact.   You can make film on your smart phone with a video content.  Shooting interviews with project participants can also help to create experiences that maximize social media and essential volunteering contents.

=> Video options

You can use audio High Definition video calling (for example Skype video calls or Google Meet for video conferencing options) to tell and share you story with CENFACS and others.

If you are going to use video options, it is better to use a free option and non-profit programme, as they are accessible to everybody to join in with at home or wherever they are, especially at this time of the coronavirus pandemic.   

Some of our users and members may not be able to afford to pay for some types of video options on the market.  That is why it is better to use something which is accessible by the majority of people.

For the purpose of data protection, please use the security tips attached to your chosen option.

If you know you are going to tell your story via video calling or conferencing option and you want CENFACS to participate or join in, you need to let us know at least three days before your story calling or conferencing start so that we can plan ourselves.  You need as well to inform us about the date, time and possibly participants.  You can email, phone, text or complete the contact form to let us know as we are busy like you.   

If you have a story, you can tell and share with us and others.  And if you do not mind, we will circulate your stories within the CENFACS Community.


(2) https://www.ncvo.org.uk/policy-and-research/volunteering-policy (accessed May 2020)


Help CENFACS keep the Poverty Relief work going in 2020.

We do our work on a very small budget and on a voluntary basis.  Making a donation will show us you value our work and support CENFACS’ work, which is currently offered as a free service. 

One could consider a recurring donation to CENFACS in the furture.

Donate to support CENFACS!



FOR ONLY £1, YOU CAN SUPPORT CENFACS AND CENFACS’ PROJECTS, JUST GO TO http://cenfacs.org.uk/supporting-us/

Thank you for visiting CENFACS website and reading this post.

Thank you as well to those who made or make comments about our weekly posts.

We look forward to receiving your regular visits and continuing support throughout 2020 and beyond.

With many thanks.



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