What we do

What we do

Education. Health care. Making a decent living. Many of us take these basic things for granted, but for millions of people they are just a dream.

Together, we are improving the quality and availability of these services, reaching two million people last year. In doing so, we’re bringing down barriers that trap people in poverty for generations to come.

Last year we worked in 25 developing countries, together with 542 local partners who had sought our support through 2,651 highly trained VSO volunteers.  

"All non-governmental organisations talk about capacity building but nobody shows locals how to do it – this is a huge difference with VSO. A couple of courses will not achieve the same thing. With VSO the person is there with you and they have chosen to come”.
Staff member at Shantiham Association for Health and Counselling, Sri Lanka

What are we achieving?

Children in Tanzania classroom | VSO International
We’re focused on training more teachers, making education accessible to every child no matter who they are, improving school management and using technology to make learning more effective. Last year:

  • 90,000 education professionals were trained to be better able to use more inclusive, child-friendly teaching methods
  • 800,000 children went to schools with better-trained educators
  • 107 education partners showed improvements

Case study: Tackling the teacher shortage in Rwanda

Find out more about our work in education.

Health, HIV and AIDS
Maternal and newborn care in Cambodia | VSO International
We’re focused on improving care for mothers and babies, championing young people’s sexual health and rights, care and treatment for all affected by HIV and AIDS, and addressing health in prisons. Last year:

  • We trained 23,478 front line health workers like doctors and nurses
  • Over 1.1 million people received health care through VSO-supported partners – nearly a third of them babies and children under-5
  • 101 health partners showed improvements

Case study: Stopping newborns dying unnecessarily in Ethiopia

Find out more about our work in health, HIV and AIDS.

Cocoa farmer in Ghana | VSO International
We’re working to make people’s sources of food and income more secure, including getting a fairer deal for farmers, and empower young people around the world with the skills and confidence to make a living. Last year:

  • Over a quarter of a million people – the majority of them women - were supported towards developing a more secure means of making a living
  •  15,500 practitioners were trained in better supporting people to have a improved source of food and income

Case study: Self-sufficiency gives young people in Bangladesh a choice

Find out more about our work in self-sufficiency.

Making change that lasts

VSO has sent volunteers to work in some of the world’s poorest communities for nearly 60 years because we believe that passing on skills - rather than cash - will allow disadvantaged people to stand on their own two feet and pass on those skills to the next generation.

Research shows that 71% of positive changes brought about through volunteers were sustained a year after they left.

More evaluations of our work

Responding to demand

We work closely with partners who have specifically asked for our support, and in places where we have judged our approach is likely to be able to have the biggest impact. See where we work.

In South Sudan, 12 out of our 13 partners said they would rather have a VSO volunteer for a year, than $35,000 in cash to spend as they liked.

Find out more

Explore a review of our work in 2014/15 or find out more about VSO.