In the past few weeks, there has been yet another huge public outcry on the functioning of the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) and this has provoked a range of talk (and a lot of hot air too) about how we can go about fixing things to make one of the larger national development funders in South Africa, work better. This talk and the occasional Business Day op-ed have however failed to look at the bigger picture of the development landscape and how that aspect affects not just the NLDTF or the National Development Agency (NDA) but the manner in which we build the post-1990 envisioned development state.
In attempting to deal with any process to improve the functioning of the NLDTF or the NDA, it may be prudent to acknowledge the (very large) elephant in the room, which is the obvious lack of any sort of comprehensive social service and development legislation in South Africa that provides for the holistic location of both agencies as well the myriad of other public and private sector funding in the country. The lack of this overarching legislative framework for bringing the developmental state agenda to life, is the key to unlocking the value of both agencies as well as a host of the other good and great initiatives that seek to build a more just and equitable society.
Thus any recommendations and conclusions to improve the NDA and NLDTF need to be understood in the context of what else is needed to ensure that this situation of a poorly functioning national development agency and a misaligned national lottery funder, are both fixed and not repeated in the way we develop and implement future initiatives to realise the ideals of the Freedom Charter and Constitution. The social, cultural and economic rights of the people of SA are central to the way we think about and implement the programmes and policies that seek to meet and exceed those rights.
On a macro level, we need to commence a dialogue about the nature of the social compact to meet and exceed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and ensure greater prosperity for all who live here. The state has claimed ownership of the developmental state and finding ways for civil society to engage meaningfully and constructively are limited. Admittedly, this is a reality of past and current modalities of engagement, but if we are looking to move ahead, then we need to be clear, as a nation, that civil society is not a secondary partner in this process. It is a collaborative relationship, where partners are engaging, on the ideals we seek to set and the process to achieve them.
We must also be wary of the red herring touted by senior Department of Social Development (DoSD) officials about the lack of an apex civil society structure to engage with and thus, they “do not know who to engage with in civil society.” There are a range of current networks that can be called upon and if this is not enough, it is a simple matter to put out a public call for engagement.
For the NLDTF and the NDA, there is a need for a piecemeal reform approach, as well as systemic change in the broad development landscape. It is possible for both these options to co-exist and given the urgent needs of the sector, we need to win space for both immediate reforms as suggested below, as well as a large-scale development priority shift.
Better-designed regulations for both the NDA and the NLDTF are needed, with broad consultation and ideally this process should be funded by the respective entities but managed by civil society. In this fashion, we will have developed regulations that not only improve the functioning of the entities but are also owned by the people affected by them.
We need a separate board for the NLDTF, to oversee the mandate of the NLDTF and ensure compliance with that mandate. This board will also serve to ensure that civil society is both represented and equally accountable for the success or failure of the NLDTF to meet its lofty mandate.
We also need the Advisory Board for Social Development (Act 3 of 2001) also needs to be appointed as a matter of critical urgency. It is baffling to say the least, that this matter has been outstanding for 11 years now. The appointment of such a board would ensure that talent, skills, knowledge and experience of the civil society sector is shared in the process of ensuring that development in SA takes place as a collaborative process between government, civil society, business and labour.
So while we can ‘take-on’ the NLDTF in marches and media campaigns, it will serve the interests of civil society in general, much better, if we are to focus our collective energy on working together to bring about some macro-policy shifts that will create an enabling framework for a long term developmental approach to funding of civil society organisations at the coalface of delivery and those engaged in the process of constant innovation, not just of service delivery but of our thinking too.
- Rajesh Latchman is the Coordinator of the National Welfare Forum, Volunteer Convenor of GCAP South Africa, guerrilla gardener, cyclist and an unreformed recycler. He writes in his personal capacity.
 The need for an over-arching legislative framework for social services, National Welfare Forum, 2010 accessible on the following link www.forum.org.za/The-Need-for-an-Over-Arching-Legislative-Framework-May-2010 Understanding the International Covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, Coalition for ICESCR ratification, 2010 accessible on www.blacksash.org.za/files/icescrseminardoc.pdf
ONE Campaign says that increasing agriculture investment is one of the best ways to reduce poverty in Africa.
ONE Campaign's deputy director, Nachilala Nkombo, says Africa has the potential not only to feed itself but also to become a major food supplier for the rest of the world.
Nkombo points out that unlocking Africa's potential will also unlock its development, adding that farming is Africa's predominant lifestyle with more than two-thirds of Africans depending on agriculture for their incomes.
To read the article titled, “Agriculture best way to reduce poverty - NGO,” click here.Source:Post Zambia
Development money sits in bank accounts around the world, including South Africa, tagged as unallocated, undistributed, under-spent and unspent or as earmarked funds that cannot be touched. It runs into billions of dollars.
Africa remains the poorest region in the world according to the World Bank yet through inept planning, poor grant management, lack of donor consultation and administrative blunders funds for development remain stuck in treacle.
We are led to believe that the root cause of poverty in Africa is not necessarily inequality in economic freedom but corrupt political leadership, lack of educational opportunities, limited health services and even climate change that perpetuates the cycle of poverty. ‘Goof ups’, ‘foul ups’ and ‘mess ups’ are never mentioned as contributing factors to grinding poverty triggered by the very same machinery empowered to address the tragedy.
A disproportionate number of an estimated one billion people, those living in poverty and despair, living on less than US$1 per day, are in sub-Saharan Africa.
A recent study on financial flows in the United Nations (UN) shows that UN agencies are carrying a build-up of unspent funds. The study examines five different UN agencies to which Norway, the funder of this study, is one of the most important donors. The agencies are the UN’s Development Programme (UNDP), the UN’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN’s Population Fund (UNFPA), and the humanitarian agencies, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP).
The study covers the period 2000-2010 where selected UN agencies have experienced a steady increase in financial contributions from donor countries to the tune of US$100 billion (R800 billion) most of which is linked to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
By the end of 2009 unspent funds including mandatory reserves at these agencies are estimated to have exceeded US$12 billion (R96 billion). The report states that aside from mandatory reserves, much of these balances are from non-core earmarked funds received in advance under signed legal agreements for specific projects/programmes whose implementation extends beyond one financial year and roll-over from one year to the next year. These funds could be sanctioned for other purposes or returned to donors for reallocation.
This is a critical issue yet not delegated to key people to resolve; how can the overarching mission to reduce poverty by half be achieved if the drivers and implementers of the 2015 MDGs act complacent and content with the status quo?
The United Nations is not alone in this act of complacency. Some private foundations do not fully utilise their allocations to good works claiming all sorts of reasons for not awarding grants such as a lack of proposals from credible organisations. A local trust fund with a mission to address poverty has consistently under-spent for five years an amount of R50 million as unallocated funds. We all agree on responsible grantmaking but this example is nothing but miserly execution.
More than R2 5 billion of accumulated amounts sit in the trust fund of the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (Source: NLB Annual Report April 2011 to March 2012) before a call for proposal is made. Thirty-four percent of ticket sales are transferred each week after the lottery draw and invested directly into the trust fund. Accumulated monies during a particular financial year are available for distribution in the following year. For example funds accumulated in 2011/2012 are available for distribution in the 2012/2013 year and so on. Although prudent financial management is good this model is painfully slow, so much so that the 2011 adjudication process took nearly 15 months. The accumulation of monies to be approved or disapproved is at the mercy of Mandarins, people who pray God with no sense of urgency.
The Lottery distributed an amount of R1.69 billion to 2 667 nonprofit organisations after the 2011 call for applications - during this ‘call’ more than 8 000 applications were submitted to the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) requesting R32 billion for project or programme funds. And this desperation for support from the NLDTF only represents 10 percent of the total number of nonprofit organisations registered in the country.
The closing balance of the NLDTF as of April 2012 was R2.1 billion but there are operational expenses to be considered - this is not to be confused with the amount allocated to good causes for the 2012/2013 period.
A large company with a strong African footprint has its headquarters in South Africa; they allocate one percent of net profit after tax (NPAT) each year to a corporate social investment (CSI) budget. The company enjoys record profits each year and is able to make multi-year commitments. In 2011, the CSI budget was R25 million but only dispensed 70 percent of the total citing a lack of internal capacity as the problem. The unused R7.5 million could have gone a long way in helping poor communities. We need to ask the question. Why did the management fail to motivate for more CSI staff to cope with project oversight?
Although a majority of CSI budgets are fully exhausted each year some stall tranches when grantees do not comply with agreed terms of a grant; causing delays or redirection of the monies to other projects. This is often reflected as undistributed funds and factored into the next years’ budget.
Nonprofits are also not blameless, they too like to play banker-banker and re-direct what they perceive to be their money without consulting donors. A super-size non-government organisation (NGO) received R4 million of designated funds for a project. They underutilised the money on the project by 22 percent. They then reapplied for an increased amount to the same donor for the same project the following year without reporting on the surplus amount remaining. There was no sense of answerability; they have since lost the trust of the donor. Squirreling money away that has been awarded for specific work is unethical and possibly illegal.
The Gauteng Department of Social Development neglected to spend R54 million of its welfare budget in the past financial year; R35 million of the money had been budgeted for childcare services and R13 million for old age homes. A newspaper reported that R18.9 million of the money should have been spent on NGOs working in the field of HIV and AIDS prevention and R12.8 million in support of vulnerable families. A spokesperson told the media at the time that under-spending had been caused by ‘cash flow problems’ at the health department. A number of nonprofit organisations (NPOs) are now forced to cease services and shut their doors.
Municipalities left R2.27 billion of the municipal infrastructure grant unspent in the past financial year - delaying delivery of services such as water, sanitation, roads and electricity - even while anger spread over local government failures and underprivileged communities protested violently nothing seems to have changed or even added a sense of urgency to the matter.
The national government awarded R4 billion to hospital revitalization in 2011 yet only 79 percent of the amount was used-up. Five provinces underspent on public hospital infrastructure to the tune of about R800 million. Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, explained to Parliament that the underspending was caused by delays as a result of poor quality work by contractors, poor management of build programmes and land allocation problems. This reckless awarding of tenders to amateur construction companies and poor planning risks lives and jeopardises patient health.
As citizens and members of civil society we must make it our business to halt unthinking, uncaring, incompetent responses to poverty is risking the lives of future generations. Unspent funds is nothing more than incompetence and complacency, it is a crime against humanity, no more excuses.
“To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required - not because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” JF Kennedy
Reference UN report: www.norad.no/en/about-norad/news/study
- Ann Bown of Charisma Consulting, Johannesburg. Cell: 083 271 0572. Ann is a financial sustainability advisor to the non-profit sector and has been in development for over 25 years.
South Africa's election to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) comes at a significant time, according deputy minister of international relations and co-operation Ebrahim Ebrahim.
Ebrahim notes that, “It is significant that South Africa will be a member of this critical organ of the United Nations (UN) at the time that the target date for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals is fast approaching - 2015."
South Africa was elected by the members of the UN General Assembly to the 47-member ECOSOC, one of the principal organs of the United Nations alongside the Security Council and General Assembly.
To read the article titled, “ECOSOC membership significant - Ebrahim,” click here.Source:The Citizen
President Jacob Zuma is using his time at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to make a wholehearted push for changes in the way the global body maintains international peace and security.
As part of the country’s aims at this year’s General Assembly, South Africa is calling on the UN to overhaul the Security Council, in order to make it more effective in dealing with crises in various countries.
The country is also pursuing its key policy objectives, including the African agenda, peace in the Middle East, sustainable development, the global financial and economic crises, and the promotion of the Millennium Development Goals.
To read the article titled, “Zuma to push for change at United Nations,” click here.Source:Business Day Live
A NGO has created various development programmes calling on stakeholders to come out and support them up for the benefit of the country.
Addressing a news conference in Dar es Salaam, Building Africa chairperson, Deogratious Celestine, stated that the programmes were created with the aim of complementing and supplementing the government efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs).
"We have over 600 programmes created with the aim of helping various countries in Africa come out of poverty using own resources and achieve the set goals," added Celestine.
To read the article titled, “NGO calls for development support,” click here.Source:All Africa
The United Nations (UN) has welcomed the election of Home Affairs Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as head of the African Union Commission.
In a press statement, UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, says he is looking forward to working closely with Dlamini-Zuma on peace and security issues on the continent, highlighting the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and promoting sustainable development in Africa as priorities.
Ban pledges the UN's full support and says that the UN will continue to strengthen its strategic partnership with the African Union to consolidate peace, security and development in the years ahead.
To read the article titled, “UN chief applauds Dlamini-Zuma on new post,” click here.Source:SABC News
- Much debate surrounds the real progress made by Africa to date with regards to attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). If the aim of having the MDGs was to encourage development by improving socio-economic conditions in the world’s poorest countries, why then, after over a decade of the initial meeting and with just under four years left to reach the set deadline, are the poorest nations still poor, and in some cases their conditions have even deteriorated since the turn of the millenium? Have the world leaders commited themselves in principle to something they know they will not achieve in practice? Has the environment, which is the most important resource essential to achieving these goals, been conserved and utilised sustainably so as to assist in poverty eradication?
Most of our problems today are a result of poor policy planning, rampant corruption and greed among those in governments themselves. Governments are failing to render basic service delivery to citizens. There is a lag in employment opportunities, which has led to Africa being the ‘poorest’ continent. Perhaps now is the time for Africa to look at newer avenues so as to convert today’s ‘challenges’ into tomorrow’s opportunities. What if Africa looks at recycling, not just in principle, but also in practice? What if we look at recycling as a solution to ending poverty? As a strategy that will help attain universal education and promote gender equality? What if we see an opportunity in waste recycling to help combat HIV and AIDS pandemic and promote and foster sustainable partnerships, together with ensuring environmental sustainability? Perharps waste management and recycling could be the answer Africa is looking for to attaining the MDGs by the year 2015.
It has been generally accepted that in any crisis (economic, social, natural) strapped nation, especially the less economically empowered world, the physical environment tends to suffer the most from human interference due to man’s coping strategies. The effects of the economic recession has had on many western countries has had drastic effects on African economies. Many have been left without a source of income due to mass retrenchments by many companies. This has played negatively on Africa’s human development, as can be seen by the number of African countries ranked to have very low human development in the 2010 Human Development Index Report. This has also added more burden to the already existing situation in development patterns in Africa, where unemployment and poverty levels are generally high.
The reason why Africa has been lagging in achieving the MDGs, with little progress being recorded for the whole region, has been because of the lack of financially empowering employment opportunities that focus on the most disadvantaged. With high unemployment rates being prevelant, and many countires going through economic chaos due to unaccountability of public office bearers, Africa as a whole will certainly not be able to reach the MDGs before the set 2015 date. Formal employment is hardly readily available, and nepotism and greed have seen only a priviledged few being absorbed into the mainstream economy. However, provision of a steady income to households through selling of waste has potential of seeing many families send their children off to school, and hence achieve universal primary education in societies that are currently fincancially and economically challenged in Africa.
So, will introduction of recycling initiatives and a scaling up of already existing initiatives in Africa mean a reduction in poverty and thereby address the development goals before 2015?
The Cooperative Model - A coordinated and focused approach to waste recycling, employment creation, poverty alleviation and Africa’s attaining of the MDGs:
The cooperative model is one that many African countries can relate to. Even in the early ‘primitive’ years of Africa’s development, many of our forefathers believed in ‘strength in numbers’ to get a particular task done. If properly coordinated, the cooperative model can offer poverty alleviation solutions not only in the waste recycling sector, but in all other sectors outside the mainstream economy. This is because employment creation opportunities created through the cooperative model are vast as compared to individual efforts. Much can be achieved with regards to poverty alleviation and other MDGs, apart from attaining environmental sustainability. One cooperatively run recycling initiative, for instance, a multi recycling buy-back centre, can create employment opportunities for no less than five individuals. The average direct beneficiary number per initiative can be 15, with an unlimited number of indirect beneficiaries who will be selling recyclable material to the buy back centre, in return for cash. In the end, depending on the locality, the sphere of influence that such an initiative can have will be large, extending to other communities where such initiatives are not readily available. Hence, everyone within the chain, from the street and kerbside waste picker to the cooperative running the buy back centre will have some form of income, that will help them meet some of their day to day needs.
However, this can be best achieved if all stakeholders; including government, community members, schools, private sector and civil society, play their respective roles to providing an environment conducive for the promotion of these recycling initiatives in areas where there are high unemployment rates and environmental degradation owing to a lack of waste management services. The contributions of waste recycling to attaining the MDGs are unlimited. However, it is only through a properly planned and coordinated cooperative model structure that will help provide bulk buying, branding, marketing and financial services to both direct and indirect beneficiaries that the real benefits of waste recycling are realised and contribute to Africa’s attempt to reaching these goals. In so doing, African communities both rural and urban are empowered to be socially, economically and financially sustainable. Perhaps it is time for government to strongly consider recycling as a potential economic game changer in Zimbabwe as well.
- Eliot Chisango is a researcher (focusing on waste management, recycling and sustainable development under the Environment sector) with P.E.A.C.E Foundation Trust, a Johannesburg-based NGO working towards addressing rural poverty. For more information on the Foundation’s activities, refer to www.peacefoundation.org.za.
The United Nations (UN) Women says decisions taken at the Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio+20 from 20-22 June 2012 will inform what happens once the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015.
UN Women executive director, Michelle Bachelet, points out that decisions taken in Rio will give direction to new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), critical among those the empowerment of women and gender equality.
Bachelet believes that there are many competing interests in Rio but central to the success of any new SDGs will be the positioning of women in the document.
To read the article titled, “Rio+20 will pave way forward once MDGs expires',” click here.Source:SABC News
According Global Monitoring Report for 2012, the developing world's progress is ‘seriously lagging’ on global targets relating to food and nutrition, with child and maternal mortality rates still unacceptably high.
The report notes that dealing with food price volatility must be a high priority, especially as nutrition has been one of the forgotten Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Released by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the report states that recent spikes in international food prices had stalled progress across several of the MDGs.
To read the article titled, “Poor countries remain hungry,” click here.Source:Sowetan Live