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  • Mapping HIV Hotspots with ArcGIS Seminar
    ​Esri South Africa

    Esri South Africa will be hosting a free seminar for all NPO/NGO organization on the 2nd of June 2017.
     
    The South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) is responsible for the coordination of a multi-sectoral HIV, TB and STI response for South Africa. SANAC's team will demonstrate how they applied ArcGIS to visualize areas where HIV positivity rate is particularly high and assist in the design of specific services and interventions.
     
    Date: 2nd June 2017

    Time: 09h30 to12h30

     Address: Esri South Africa, International Business Gateway  Office Park, Cnr New and 6th Road Midrand.

    Cost: Free for NPOs and NGOs 

    RSVP:  vnaidoo@esri-southafrica.com by Wednesday the 31st May

    For more about Esri South Africa, refer to www.esri-southafrica.com

    Event Start Date: 
    Friday, 2 June, 2017
    Event End Date: 
    Friday, 2 June, 2017
    Event Venue: 
    Esri South Africa, International Business Gateway Office Park, Cnr New and 6th Road Midrand
    Event Type: 
    Seminar
    Location: 
    South Africa


  • Home Affairs on Course to Digitise Records

    The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will step up the digitisation of records using the earmarked R10 million per annum received from National Treasury.

     

    This is the word from minister Hlengiwe Mkhize, during a presentation of the DHA's budget vote in Parliament.

    According to Mkhize, among the factors impacting proficient provision of public services has been a lack of efficient records management, which is why the department has prioritised digitisation of records.

    Most of these are records of births, marriages, deaths, ID applications, naturalisation and permitting, and date back to the late 1800s, as pointed out by the department.

    To read the article titled, "Home Affairs on Course to Digitise Records" click here.

    Source: 
    ITWeb


  • SA Entrepreneurs are Seeing Less Opportunities

    Opportunity and capability perceptions amongst South African entrepreneurs have dropped in the wake of political and economic setbacks in the country.

    This is according to this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) South Africa report, which says the drop in both opportunity and capability perceptions relative to 2015 is disappointing, but that the former is of particular concern as this had been steadily improving since 2009.

    The drop in opportunity and capability perceptions – which stood at 38 per cent – comes despite the consistently positive attitudes towards – and awareness of – entrepreneurship reported by South Africans, while both perceived opportunity and perceived capabilities levels are below the averages for efficiency-driven economies and the levels for the Africa region as a whole.

    “Given that a significant challenge faced by South Africa is chronically high levels of unemployment and underemployment, the persistent trend of low entrepreneurial intention is of concern,” said GEM.

    “Entrepreneurial intentions in South Africa have dropped by more than a third – from 15.4 per cent to 10.1 per cent – when compared to 2013 and almost halved when compared to 2010. Entrepreneurial intentions in South Africa are significantly lower than for the African region as a whole – the regional average is four times higher than for South Africa – while the average for the efficiency-driven economies is more than double South Africa’s score.”

    To read the article titled, "SA entrepreneurs are seeing less opportunities" click here.
     

    Source: 
    Disrupt Africa


  • Analysis: Tackling Violence Against Women Needs Support, Not Just Outrage

    Twenty-two-year-old Karabo Mokoena was allegedly murdered by her 27-year-old boyfriend Sandile Mantsoe and stuffed into a bin before she had acid poured on her, was necklaced and set alight. Her body was tossed into a dumping ground. The Sunday Times article by Athandiwe Saba exposing the details of Mokoena’s abominable murder ended with a chilling list. It named 13 women or girls recently killed by men.
     
    “Jeannette Cindi, 34, five months pregnant, raped, killed and burnt by five men in April,” reads one. “Akhona Njokana, 31, shot dead in January. Ex-boyfriend in custody,” another. Certain tragedies highlight realities. The brutal – Mokoena’s murder, Anene Booysen’s murder – sometimes spur calls for action.
     
    Mokoena’s family have reportedly called for her death to be a message against gender-based violence (GBV). On social media, #MenAreTrash has seen women share their experiences of abuse and rally against patriarchal values causing and supporting violence. President Jacob Zuma, in a statement on Tuesday, said the frequency of attacks committed by family members or intimate partners is concerning (remember the Khwezi case?)
     
    “The nation must forge a united front with the law enforcement authorities, government and all sectors of society in fighting this appalling scourge and isolate these criminals in society but within the ambit of the law,” said Zuma.
     
    The scourge is rampant. On Tuesday it was reported that 11 suspects were arrested for gang-raping a 22-year-old woman in Johannesburg. SAPS crime statistics last year recorded 51,895 sexual offences, a decrease that was received as potentially worrying, given that reported rapes are estimated to be as high as seven times those reported. A Statistics South Africa report released on Monday painted a bleak picture of women and violence. A look at the court roll reveals the grim reality of violent masculinity.
     
    The only government intervention Zuma noted was a toll-free, 24-hour GBV hotline (0800 428 428), but NGOs and civil society groups working in the sector are calling for the recent outrage to translate into practical interventions to tackle the horrors women face. Government supports a number of interventions, but its leaders have been noticeably quiet recently.
     
    The outrage, which rises up intermittently according to the latest horror, although confronting, must also be accompanied by action.
     
    Civil society organisations have pushed the state, for years, to adopt a national strategic plan on gender-based violence (NSPGBV), similar to the plan tackling HIV/AIDS. Marike Keller, policy development and advocacy co-ordinator at Sonke Gender Justice, said current strategies on confronting violence are underfunded and unco-ordinated. She said a national plan “will align the country around a set of clear strategic priorities and create an accountability mechanism for the performance of government, the private sector and civil organisations, in addressing GBV.”
     
    Keller said the plan would give stakeholders a voice and lead to specific goals and timelines. It would provide a budgetary outline for realistic and effective implementation. Underfunding is an important issue and a budget could provide for more Thuthuzela Care Centres, a crucial service for sexual assault victims, in rural areas, training social workers, and interventions teaching men and boys about gender equity. A national plan would also hold leaders accountable to their commitments, said Keller.
     
    The government has a plan to tackle the violence. It’s called the Integrated Programme on Violence Against Women and Children. But Keller said it wasn’t budgeted, didn’t include issues dealing with males or LGBQTI persons, and wasn’t consultative. A review of the integrated programme, which targeted 2013-2018, was meant to be conducted in 2016 but it’s unclear if there was any progress.
     
    “The strategic plan will ensure set time frames, resources and responsibilities to end violence against women. The plan will ensure that a thorough baseline survey is conducted on GBV to enable effective response for prevention. It will enable extent, effect, response and prevention of GBV to be clearly defined and tackled,” said Gender Links alliance and partnership manager Sifiso Dube.
     
    Proposals for a new national strategy on GBV have struggled to gain ground. “The hold-up is that there simply doesn’t seem to be a political will to address GBV. It simply doesn’t seem to be on the agenda,” said Keller. “We are aware that the department of women is holding dialogues in South African provinces on the GBV-related needs of communities. We do not know, however, what the next steps will be.”
     
    There are some questions as to whether the national strategic plan (NSP) is the way to go. Dr Andrew Gibbs from the Medical Research Council, who also works with the initiative What Works to Prevent Violence, said, “An NSP for GBV may give some sense of cohesion to the many, many different government departments doing things around GBV prevention and response and sense of strategic emphasis but it would have to carefully balance a range of interests and political dynamics and really have some teeth in government to drive things forward.”
     
    But those working in the sector are adamant there needs to be greater support for current initiatives. Keller said there needs to be a rollout of prevention interventions to address harmful gender norms and violent masculinities driving the violence. She said support for survivors of GBV is “severely lacking” and must urgently be increased.
     
    “If a government is committed to end GBV, the political discourse, resources, programmes will show political will to end this social ill. Legislation may be there on paper but this has to be balanced by changing attitudes through raising awareness and mobilisation at a community level,” said Dube. She also noted challenging cultural justifications for GBV, preventing societal apathy, and ensuring there is funding for shelters, protection services, legal aid, and training programmes.
     
    Gibbs said it’s generally known which interventions help combat GBV, but the problem is implementing them on a larger scale through government structures. “There is a massive amount of working being done by small (and large) civil society organisations, but these often rely on decreasing donor funding. So there’s a need to expand these interventions and imbed them in current government structures.” He said government initiatives like the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and Community Public Works Programme (CPWP) could be harnessed to support positive anti-GBV initiatives.
     
    Gibbs noted a number of initiatives that he said are working. To prevent violence, there’s Stepping Stones, which targets youth and promotes sexual health and reducing partner violence. The IMAGE project provides microfinance and gender transformative training for women.
     
    On responses to violence, Gibbs said the country has a strong framework but prosecutions are extremely low after reports to police. He said post-rape kits are important for ensuring charges stick and supported the efforts provided to sexual assault survivors by the Thuthuzela Care Centres.
     
    Dube identified five key areas of intervention: effective legislation, accessible and affordable legal services, specialised facilities for GBV survivors, effective coordination of anti-GBV efforts, and community mobilisation. Many initiatives exist to cover these priorities but they’re not supported enough to match the crisis.
     
    Outrage alone won’t end the violence. “Highlighting only high-profile cases is not enough to deter would-be perpetrators; GBV needs to be combed out community by community, naming and shaming perpetrators. Indeed, funding is critical for effective anti-GBV programmes; money is needed for protection services, shelters, legal aid and GBV training programmes,” said Dube.
     
    Gibbs said outrage can highlight society’s male dominance and the resulting violence, but it needs to lead to significant government responses and support civil society interventions to have any benefit. Otherwise, high-profile cases will only divert attention from the reality – “how many women and girls are killed each day by their partners or fathers”.
     

    • This article was written by Greg Nicolson. This article first appeared on Daily Maverick.

    Photo courtesy: MSF

    Countries: 


  • Into Thin Air: Thousands of SA’s Most Vulnerable at Risk as NGOs’ Subsidies Subside

    This year, 2017, will be remembered as the year of the Department of Social Development’s self-induced crises. First SassaGate, then an ugly social workers’ strike, and now, the mass non-payment of subsidies to NGOs running residential homes for vulnerable children, the elderly and the disabled; critical community support services, and even creches.
     
    The work of welfare in South Africa is overwhelmingly carried out by NGOs, rather than government facilities. So, the scope and impact of this crisis could be immense, both in terms of human suffering and potential loss. But although this calamity (like the others) was self-induced and therefore both foreseeable and preventable, the department seems paralysed and unable (or unwilling) to respond.
     
    Perhaps it is to be expected. In the week when the NGOs discovered that their subsidies had not been paid, the Minister of Social Development and her deputy were both absent from Parliament, again, and the news broke of yet another disgraceful wastage of social development money. It is indicative of a leadership crisis that has left thousands of NGOs across the country wondering if they will be able to continue providing food, warmth and shelter to those in their care.
     
    The hapless NGOs are the unwitting victims of a “perfect storm” that began as far back as August 2015 when the department failed to negotiate with Nehawu following the union’s demands for changes to wages and workload. It was a costly miscalculation. The union finally lost patience with the department in February 2017, just as the Sassa crisis was breaking, and at the most critical stage in the department’s planning cycle.
     
    At the time, the department was about to begin its annual process of negotiating tens of thousands of service level agreements (SLAs) with the NGOs it subsidises to care for vulnerable communities on its behalf. Knowing that failure to secure the SLAs (which involved the lengthy process of reviewing budgets with each NGO and then signing off an annual SLA with the NGO’s board) would result in the department not being able to pay subsidies for the new financial year, the union called a strike. It was a cynical act, designed and timed for maximum impact.
     
    Nehawu’s general secretary confirmed the strategy in an interview in early April: “All that we know is that our members are on strike. The intention of a strike is to affect services so the employer can present what would be acceptable. It’s up to those NGOs to speak to the department to resolve any outstanding issues.”
     
    According to the department, strikers went one step further, not only delaying the signing of SLAs but also disrupting the process by “tearing all the signed and concluded SLAs”. By choosing to strike in March, the unions effectively gave the department three options: negotiate quickly, make a contingency plan, or risk the calamity of tens of thousands of NGOs going without funds at the end of April. Where the unions may have miscalculated, though, was the belief that the NGOs would be able to put pressure on the department to negotiate (they couldn’t), or that the department would expedite the process to ensure that the NGOs received their subsidies (it didn’t).
     
    As a crisis became inevitable, one spokesperson described the department as being “in panic mode”. But perplexingly, either through a lack of leadership or a vain attempt to try to achieve everything, negotiations dithered on until the second week of April. In the end, the department acceded to the union’s demands. But by that time it was too late to get the SLAs signed before the new financial year. The department undertook to “expedite” the process, and even promised the NGOs that all SLAs would all be signed by mid-April (an impossibility given when the strike ended), and all payments made at the end of April. But, given that SLAs were still being completed in the first week of May, it soon became clear to everyone (with the notable exception of some parts of the department) that payments would be late.
     
    NGOs, with few or no financial reserves, faced the bleak prospect of having to “self-fund” the payment of April salaries. In addition, residential and ECD facilities have been forced to cover the cost of food, heating, petrol and all other items needed for the daily care of their charges until their subsidy is eventually paid (halfway through May, large numbers are still waiting). But, for a handful of NGOs, including Bethany House Trust which first drew the media’s attention to the non-payment crisis, the situation was even worse. These NGOs were responsible for “rescuing” and caring for children who had to be moved out of government institutions during the strike when social workers barricaded them into their homes without food or medical care. The NGOs have yet to be compensated for weeks of caring for these government charges, and “ironically” (there is certainly no humour in it), it was this act of mercy which brought several organisations to the edge of a precipice.
     
    Finally, to add to the calamity in some provinces, April 2017 also saw provincial authorities introduce new financial codes which (apparently) could only be tested once the new financial year began on 1 April. In what the department rather euphemistically described as a “technical glitch”, the system (inexplicably, it seems) attempted to make four quarterly payments at once. According to the department, “capturing and testing of new financial codes in the payment system… led to the current glitches” and “the first payment run [in the] last week of April… was not successful.” The problem is ongoing. Even for those organisations whose SLAs had been ratified, the “glitch” has made automatic payments impossible.
     
    Nonetheless, despite the technical problems and late signing of SLAs, the situation may have been salvageable had the department acted decisively and cohesively. It didn’t, and every province was left scrambling to make a plan. Some fared better than others. According to one NGO (which did not want to be named), they had very different experiences in Gauteng and the Western Cape. In the Western Cape they were notified by circular at the beginning of April that the system was changing and that the payments would have to be processed manually. Then on 2 May the provincial department apologised for the delay in making the payments and promised to pay them on the 3rd, which it did. Gauteng, by contrast, seemed to be in chaos.
     
    According to Les Sanabria, the deputy chairperson of the Gauteng Social Services and Welfare Development Forum, the MEC for Social Development met with interested parties in late March to explain that because of the strike, the department would not get subsidies to organisations when the first tranche was due. The warning and the apology undoubtedly came too late for the NGOs to make adequate contingency plans (and without any time frames, they were unable to do so with any effectiveness). Nor did the department warn the NGOs of the compounding system problems. Instead, according to Gert Jonker from Bethany House Trust, they were told that the payment had been made. Then, when it didn’t appear in their accounts, and worried NGOs began to contact the department, they were told that they would be paid as soon as the technical glitch had been found, then that they would be paid manually, then on 9 May, and now on 17 May. Although a small number of payments have trickled through, scores of NGOs in Gauteng are still stuck in an anxious wait.
     
    In the Eastern Cape the situation seems even worse. There, NGOs received no warning about a potential payment delay, and when the Eastern Cape NGO Coalition sent an urgent memorandum to Social Development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi and department head Stanley Khanyile asking them for answers, the memorandum was received and acknowledged, but no response was forthcoming. Concerningly, the rumour is that there is a political agenda governing the department’s actions. One NGO head is quoted as saying that they had “been told that department head had not finalised the subsidies because of internal politics at the department”.
     
    The most troubling aspect of this crisis, which worsens every day payment is delayed, is the sheer number of organisations and vulnerable people affected.
     
    In Gauteng alone, the department provides subsidies to 2,638 NGOs, including 101 children’s home and shelters, 72 residential facilities for the elderly, 30 residential homes for people with disabilities, and close to 1,500 ECD centres (creches).
     
    NGOs also run shelters for women, in-patient facilities for people battling substance abuse, and hundreds of community programmes related to support for the elderly, HIV/ AIDS centres, poverty alleviation and youth development programmes, victim empowerment programmes for abused women and children, crime prevention programmes, home and community care programmes for the disabled, and family services. These are the organisations that are currently scrambling to secure loans, borrowing on their overdrafts, or living off the kindness of strangers while they struggle to keep their doors open. Given the critical nature of these services, and the vulnerability of the people they support, the department’s lack of action seems even more negligent.
     
    All of which brings us full circle, to the minister. Even if we attribute this latest crisis to union manipulation, and the vicissitudes of technology; social welfare NGOs – who are effectively the department’s hands and feet – are increasingly experiencing hostility in their relationship with the minister and her team. And perhaps that is the most chilling part of the current crisis. Whether intentionally, or as an accidental consequence of serious incompetence and the department’s inability to make contingency plans, this crisis may force the closure of large numbers of those NGOs. If one missed payment resulted in children going to bed hungry, creches not functioning and the elderly huddling in unheated rooms, the potential cost of closure is devastating. And, by contrast, the department has neither the resources, the finances, the skills, nor (if truth be told) the inclination to provide those affected with adequate alternative care. The stakes are too high to avoid this reality any longer: the vulnerable are paying for the mistakes of the minister and her department. It cannot continue.
     

    • This article was written by Robyn Wolfson Vorster. This article first appeared on Daily Maverick.

    Photo courtesy: IOL

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