What VSO ICS volunteers do and where

What VSO ICS volunteers do and where

ICS Volunteer

What to expect from your placement

Living with the local community

VSO ICS programmes run in communities of all sizes, from small villages to big cities, so you could be living in either an urban or rural setting. Most UK volunteers stay in a ‘host home’ with local people. You could be living with people who are young or old, single or in a large family, and often you’ll live with a counterpart volunteer.

Accommodation will vary depending on location, but wherever you are staying we will make sure it is safe and has all the basic amenities you need. However, it is important that you are prepared for basic living conditions and are adaptable to those conditions.

Working with local people

As a VSO ICS volunteer you will be part of a team, including volunteers from the UK and from your host country.

You may be teamed up with one volunteer from your host country, as a ‘counterpart pair’, or you may be part of a wider group. The in-country volunteers are very important for the programme, as they share invaluable knowledge on the best ways of working in the area to ensure sustainability and effectiveness, as well as helping you get used to the country, customs and language.

ICS placements are designed to bring about lasting change through the unique contribution that you will make to VSO’s development goals by working on:

  • Education - helping make sure it really is for everyone
  • Health - Making sure young people have the information they need on issues like sexual health, and helping communities stay healthy
  • Business - Helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses and making sure people can earn a decent living
  • Youth unemployment - Making sure young people have the skills to succeed and get a job to support themselves
  • Climate change and the environment - Support local communities to protect their local environment and adapt to the effects of climate change
  • Human rights and campaigning - Help people know their rights and have the confidence to influence those in power

See below to find out more about different placements and what you could end up doing where.

VSO ICS placements in Africa


VSO ICS volunteers work on two projects in Ghana. In Asamankese of Eastern region, volunteers work with after-school clubs and community groups to provide careers advice, training on livelihoods activities and to promote agriculture amongst young people in communities where cocoa farming is the main source of income. In Talensi of the Upper East region, volunteers promote gender equality and inclusive education in schools; activities also include supporting community groups to improve adult literacy and encourage their children to stay in school. 


VSO ICS has programmes in Nanyuki, Machakos and Loitokitok. Volunteers work with young people and people with disabilities to support secure livelihood projects, agriculture and increase active citizenship in the community. For example, in Machakos the volunteers created kitchen gardens in schools to generate food and income. They also worked alongside the Kenya Red Cross to plan and deliver an event for World Aids Day.


VSO ICS volunteers work in communities in the south, west and central parts of Nigeria. In Kwara volunteers work closely with schools to engage children in extra-curricular activities. They also work with nomadic communities to improve adult literacy. In Kwali volunteers work with the local education authority to help teachers make maths and science more accessible to young people. All activities aim to develop Nigeria’s active youth network.


VSO ICS volunteers work in Lindi, Mtwara and Zanzibar. On the island of Zanzibar volunteers work with horticultural farmers as well as young entrepreneurs to help improve their prosperity and develop their livelihoods. In Lindi and Mtwara the VSO ICS project focuses on youth employability, so volunteers support vocational education through peer to peer training amongst many other activities.


VSO ICS has programmes in Choma in the south and Nyimba in the east of Zambia. Volunteers support local organisations and government clinics to raise awareness about sexual and reproductive health. Workshops in schools and community groups can cover a wide range of youth issues, such as puberty, teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and early marriage. VSO ICS volunteers are well placed to plan and facilitate such peer to peer sessions effectively.


VSO ICS volunteers work in Rusape in north-eastern Zimbabwe. The programme aims to raise awareness of sexual and reproductive health and the services that are available locally. Volunteers use a range of fun participatory activities such as peer group sessions, drama, role-play and sport. There’s also a focus on using local media and engaging local people in community health volunteering.

VSO ICS placements in Asia


Volunteers on our ICS programme in Bangladesh work with entrepreneurs in the handloom industry to grow their businesses. Tasks include market research, business development, marketing and support with the entrepreneurs’ businesses.


VSO ICS has programmes in the north east of Cambodia in Stung Treng, Mondulkiri and Kratie. Volunteers work with local NGOs focusing on three main areas: waste management and tourism, agriculture and financial management. Activities range from improving knowledge of organic farming techniques right through to helping generate income from eco-tourism and microfinance opportunities.


VSO ICS volunteers work in Kathmandu and rural communities in Baglung and Lamjung. The programmes aim to improve sustainable livelihoods opportunities for women. Volunteers support the delivery of agricultural training, as well as coordinating health education workshops with schools and community groups.