Book Aid International

In this blog post, Nick Levett, a volunteer at Policy Press highlights the impact of Book Aid International, a book-distribution charity that Policy Press have recently had the pleasure of donating over 28,000 books to.

Book Aid International is a fantastic charity that has donated over 31 million books to libraries in Africa, as well as training local librarians. In this blog post, I’d like to draw more attention to the human impact their projects have had, their history, and how you can help Book Aid continue its invaluable work.

Moses Mwandihi is the librarian at the Kisumu Provincial Library, which for many years has received books from Book Aid International. The picture Moses paints of the availability of books in schools in the region is dire:

“If you look at the situation in our primary schools, there are no books and those that there are, have been there for a long time…”

Since 2009, Book Aid has helped the SchoolBookClubsBookAidlibrary with an outreach project encouraging School Book Clubs. By 2011, the book clubs in Kisumu had grown so popular that the library temporarily ran out of books:

“When you look at the situation with books in the library, having new ones will make a big change.”

– Moses Mwandihi, co-orginator of the Kisumu Province Book Club outreach project

In 2012, Book Aid supported the then 67 book clubs in Kisumu, helping Moses to lead class visits to the library and supported teachers selecting books for their schools. Book Aid is inolved in many such projects, each of which has a tangible human impact:



Choosing books from the FAWEZA mobile library. Courtesy of Book Aid.

Mobile Libraries provide access to books for communities which lack the funds or space to build a permanent library, or those with a nomadic lifestyle.

“Mobile Libraries will lead to improved education among the primary schools.”

– Resident District Education Commissioner, Manafwa District

In 2011, the Forum for African Women Educationalist in Zambia (FAWEZA) Mobile Libraries project expanded to the Kibera slum, bringing 7,600 books donated by Book Aid, significantly improving educational attainment for some of the most disadvantaged children in Zambia.

Prison Libraries can help provide literacy classes and book clubs, so that prisoners in wartorn and recovering regions such as northern Uganda can have access to the tools to help them change their lives. A spokesperson for the African Prisons Project emphasises exactly how desperate the lack of books can be for prisoners in the region: “Almost all the people we meet in prison are poor… many will wait in prison for five years or more without having a trial. Access to books and education is limited or non-existent.”

“Books related to skills like catering, tailoring and others can help to change one’s life…”

– Prisoner, Gulu Prison, Northern Uganda

Book Aid is providing 1,250 new books, as well as training prisoners and staff on how to run and manage a new library space being created by the African Prisons Project.


Lugala Lutheran Hospital, Tanzania. Courtesy of Book Aid

Books for Health provides much-needed health books and information to enable doctors, students, and ordinary individuals in sub-Saharan Africa  to treat patients, pass exams and protect their health and that of their families.

“The books from Book Aid were FABULOUS! Already they have stimulated in-service training and skill-sharing.”

– Kenya Medical Training College

Students and staff at the Kenya Medical Training College attest to the importance what Book Aid have achieved through the Books for Health Programme: “When books from Book Aid International were delivered, there was a lot of excitement in the department. Pharmacy students now regularly use the library. Reports from the Head of Department indicate that academic performance of students has improved. They appreciate Book Aid international for making their learning experience better.”

“There are now children who are coming even from Wiole, which is very far from the library…”

– Peter Kadunda, Mbeya Regional Librarian

By establishing Children’s Book Corners, such as the one at the Mbeya Regional Library, Book Aid International has helped to revitalise once-deserted libraries with books, toys, and reading mats. Peter Kadunda, the Mbeya Regional Librarian highlights the difference the project has made: “Before the project, the number of children was very small because there was nothing to motivate them to come to the library… There are now children who are coming even from Wiole, which is very far from the library…”

By training local librarians, children in the area now visit the library for drawing, painting, story telling, singing, poetry, crafts and library education sessions. You can see just what an effect this has had at the Mbeya Regional Library below:

Mbeya Regional Library from Book Aid International on Vimeo.

Book Aid also provides funds for refurbishment, new furniture and filling shelves with new books, transforming libraries and lives in Uganda through the Community Libraries project.


Book Aid International was the brainchild of Hermione, the countess of Ranfurly. following her appointment as Governor of the Bahamas in 1953, Hermione started what was then the “Ranfurly Library Service” in order to correct the lack of books in libraries and schools in the Bahamas. Upon her return to the United Kingdom in 1957, she began extending the work of the Ranfurly Library Service to provide English books to other developing countries in need of educational materials, and the organisation went on to become Book Aid in 1994. Book Aid now sends invaluable books to thirteen developing countries.

How you can help Book Aid

Whether it’s by donating books or money, organising your own events, connecting with a Trust or Foundation, leaving a legacy, supporting Book Aid while you shop, or any other ideas you might have, make sure to Get Involved!

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