Community Development & Social Welfare Services strategic plan: Deputy Minister briefing; National Development Agency strategy 2009/10

Social Development

22 June 2009
Chairperson: Ms Y Botha (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Social Development briefed the Committee on its strategic plan for community development and social welfare services.

The Committee’s concerns included the absorption of social workers in to the Department after graduation, the shortage of social workers
and sustainability of programmes and projects. The Department stated that the sustainability of projects was an issue that has been bothering the development world for years. The Department invested in civil society for the purpose of strengthening democracy. Members noted that there were many programmes that still had to be implemented during the financial year. The Committee also pointed out that the Department had not mentioned any of the challenges they were experiencing in their briefing. The Department replied that the challenges were poverty and lack of skills and the reduction in the budget meant there was less money to address these challenges. The Committee appealed to the Department to focus their attention on rural areas. They queried the usefulness of scholarships for social work students if they could not be found jobs. The Committee raised the matter of child-headed families and  funding home-based care.

The National Development Agency briefed the Department on its strategy. The Agency’s
main focus was on poverty alleviation however, it recognised its financial constraints. The Agency outlined its strategy for grant funding, capacity building and Civil Society Organisation Strengthening Programmes. It warned that during the 2009/10 financial year the Agency would reach the position where it would need to utilise contingency funds. There was a direct need for additional funding to enable the NDA to further fulfil its mandate.

The Committee discussed
how many projects there were that were generating income and how much employment was created from the projects. Members noted that many of the community projects collapsed. The Agency stated that the collapse of programmes resulted from problems experienced with capacity, monitoring, mentoring and access to money.

Meeting report

Community Development and Social Welfare Services branches: briefing
Before looking at the achievements of her branch, Ms Vuyelwa Nhlapo, Deputy Director-General: Integrated Development, discussed the branch’s strategic objectives:
to create an enabling environment that contributes towards the building of sustainable communities.
to develop / facilitate implementation and monitoring of guidelines and programmes for sustainable livelihoods. ▪ to create an enabling environment for the improvement of quality of life of the youth.
to reduce vulnerability to HIV infection and mitigate impact of HIV and Aids.
Targets also included ensuring efficiency in the administration of non-profit organisations and building institutional capacity of non-profit organisations (NPOs). The key outputs were then discussed.

Dr Maria Mabetoa, Chief Director: Children, Youth and Families, discussed the annual performance targets of  Social Welfare Services. They aimed to improve welfare service delivery by, amongst others:
developing, piloting & implementing norms and standards for delivering social welfare services by 2009/10,
reduced substance abuse by developing regulations for substance abuse by 2010/11 and
improve protection and care of children by facilitating implementation of Children’s Act through developing policies and strategies aimed at promoting children’s rights.

▪ to protect and promote the rights of people with disabilities by facilitating the development and implementation of policies, legislation and strategies on disability by 2011/12; to develop programmes for residential facilities by 2011/12.
▪ t
ransform services to older people by developing service delivery guidelines by 2010/11.
▪ to empower families by developing an integrated plan for implementing the family policy by 2009/10 and minimum norms and standards by 2010/11.
▪ to protect people affected by violence and crime by developing a shelter strategy and an integrated plan for implementing the victim empowerment policy by 2009/10.

The Department of Social Development (DSD) discussed its outputs for 2009/2010 for substance abuse and the Central Drug Authority (CDA) and its achievements in this area for 2008/09. Finally, the DSD discussed its achievements and future outputs for Social Crime Prevention and the Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP).

Discussion
In reply to a question on who funded community activities and if social work students on scholarships were absorbed into the DSD once they graduated, Ms Nhlapo stated that communities were funded by both the public and private sector. There was private sector funding through social investment initiatives.

Scholarships targeted learners from both rural and urban areas. Every student had a contract with the province in which they were employed. Once qualified, the student was contracted to work for the department in that province for two years. The Western Cape had an agreement with the Non Government Organisation (NGO) sector that they would employ social workers if they could not be absorbed into the DSD. The Department was encouraging all provinces to make this plan with NGOs. 

Ms N November (ANC) noted that Non Profit Organisations (NPOs) who were registered and delivering services for government often found that their funding was not given to them timeously. There was a major shortage of social workers in the country. Many social workers worked for NPOs. She wanted to know how this matter would be addressed. The programmes that would be implemented by the Department during this financial year were very impressive. She asked if the Department knew when exactly they would be implemented. She worried about the sustainability of programmes and projects.

Mr Zane Dangor, Chief Operating Officer, stated that the sustainability of projects was an issue that had been bothering the development world for years. There was a question of what the “returns” were for investing in communities through projects. If it were measured in Rands, it would be seen as a failure. If it were to be measured in other ways, such as an investment in skills or capacity, it would be seen as successful. The Department had to do more research on these investments. He added that small NGOs and NPOs were vendors at community level. This was an area the DSD needed to focus on, as the DSD could invest in their capacity. The DSD also had to focus on developmental projects. This would help to prioritise DSD objectives. The Department invested in civil society for the purpose of strengthening democracy. They gave people the space to engage at community level with local government and national departments. Here, the issue of sustainability was difficult, as there would always be recurring expenditures. These kinds of organisations would be funded purely because they were important. So, there was no question of what the returns would be and if there was sustainability; these organisations would have to be funded. The DSD funded civil society organisations because it was important to have them in communities.      

There were some projects that still had to be completed in 2009. The Department would be attending a strategic session in which they would be discussing programmes. They could forward a more detailed report on these programmes to the Committee. 

Ms H Lemoela (DA) stated that there were a lot of programmes that still had to be implemented during the financial year. She wondered if the Department would be able to reach all its targets with these programmes, especially since there was a shortage of social workers. She asked if the programmes were being monitored.  She noted that the DSD’s projects were excellent and hoped they would be implemented, as rural areas suffered the most when they were not.

The Department stated that there were community change agents and community forums in place. This brought agents together and allowed them to engage on project issues. The forum was used as a mechanism to strengthen capacity in communities and would also be used for research purposes.  

Ms Lemoela pointed out that the Department’s report had not mentioned any challenges that they were experiencing. She noted that scholarships were being given to social work students. However, when they became qualified, they still could not find employment. She wondered what the point was of giving scholarships and if the Department had sufficient resources to implement projects.

Deputy Minister Bathabile Dlamini stated that there was a challenge of implementing all the legislation that had been passed the previous year.


Ms Nhlapo stated that challenges were mentioned very broadly in the presentation. Some of the challenges were poverty, lack of skills and the reduction in the budget. The DSD had challenges because there was less money to address broader challenges.

Ms Lemoela appealed to the Department to focus their attention on rural areas. She stated that projects could be implemented to help people in rural areas; unfortunately it just was not being done. She asked how many sustainable jobs were created through programmes for the financial year 2008/09. 

Ms N Gcuma (COPE) noted that Community Development Workers (CDWs) and Community Development Practitioners (CDPs) seemed to be doing the same duties. She wanted clarity on the matter. She asked if the Department had a whistle-blowing process that communities could use to inform the DSD if programmes were not working. She asked if the DSD trained officials to treat the public with dignity. She added that people in public service needed intensive training to teach them how to interact with all types of people.

The Department stated that CDWs were established to ensure improved service delivery. They were not just limited to social development; CDWs ensured that services reached communities. CDPs were used to mobilise communities and to facilitate the implementation of community development programmes. The CDPs provided support to community-based organisations, strengthened networks existing in communities and drove community youth work. CDPs facilitated development while CDWs focused on service delivery. 

Ms S Kopane (DA) commented that many organisations were registering as NPOs and NGOs, even though they were not. She asked if the DSD was going to stop such registration of NPOs and NGOs at some point. She also asked the DSD if there was information on child-headed families.

Ms Nhlapo stated that the DSD could never stop the registration of NPOs and NGOs. Legislation was clear in terms of government structures and what was required of an organisation in order to be registered as an NPO or NGO.

Dr Mabetoa stated that the Department had recently completed studies on child-headed families. 

Ms W Nelson (ANC) asked if the Department funded home-based care.

Ms Nhlapo answered that the DSD was working with the Department of Health (DoH) on this matter. The DoH funded home-based care. This was part of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).

The Chairperson noted that one of the Department’s performance targets was to
facilitate the linkage of carers of social grant beneficiaries to sustainable livelihoods by developing guidelines for implementation of the “Linking social grant beneficiaries to sustainable livelihoods” concept. She asked if this would be collaboration between the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the DSD.

Deputy Minister Dlamini stated that the DSD was working with social security units at national level as well as with other departments. The Department was not working with SASSA on the project. However, it used SASSA’s database to link to beneficiaries.

Ms Lemoela noted that the country was approaching the 2010 FIFA World Cup. She asked if the DSD foresaw any increase in the substance abuse problem and if they had any strategies to deal with the matter.

Dr Mabetoa stated that this was also an issue for border control. The DSD would have treatment plans and facilities in order by 2010.

Deputy Minister Dlamini stated that the presentation showed that the Department was well-grounded and that they understood the challenges facing society. She noted that the DSD had moved from a welfare approach to a community development approach. This meant that communities would become empowered. She addressed the DSD’s budget, saying that it was clear they were faced with the challenge of being in a recession. Every Departmental official would have to account for every cent that would be spent. There were programmes that the DSD was involved in that were integrated with other departments. These would help to eradicate poverty.   

National Development Agency (NDA)
strategy
Ms Rashida Issel, Acting Chief Executive Officer, presented the srategy. The NDA’s main focus was on poverty alleviation however, it recognised the financial constraints within which the organisation operated.

The NDA focused on four strategic goals:
▪ to promote sustainable development which would contribute to eradicating poverty through grant funding and resource mobilisation.
▪ to promote
organisational sustainability, development practice and excellence
 to develop additional income streams to build and sustain the capacity to enable the NDA to operate efficiently and effectively.
to promote interface between Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Research Institutions, Development Practitioners and the State on development issues to facilitate dialogue to inform development policy and service delivery.
to facilitate research that informs grant funding decisions, procedures and development policy to facilitate information and knowledge generation to strengthen the development programming of the NDA and informing development practice and policy.

On their strategy for grant funding, t
he NDA received an annual allocation from National Treasury through the National Department of Social Development. 65% of the total allocation was allocated to grants for CSOs to implement poverty eradication programmes. In the 2008/9 financial year, the NDA disbursed R85.8m to funded projects

In terms of strategy for capacity building, t
he legislative mandate required the NDA to strengthen the institutional capacity of Civil Society Organisations that provide services to the poor. The NDA had over the past five years up-scaled a programme of strengthening capacity of CSOs in the country. The NDA has strengthened NGO networks and consortia to provide coordination and “voice” for the poor on public policy matters. The CSO Strengthening Programmes purpose was to strengthen the institutional capacity of grassroots organisations to deliver quality services and programmes to alleviate poverty.


The NDA had committed to projects in the economic development sector, foods security sector, community health sector and the education sector.

On the matter of its
2009/2010 finances, the NDA would reach the position where it would need to utilise contingency funds (in addition to income grant and interest) to meet operational costs and maintain grant funding levels. There was a direct need for additional funding to enable the NDA to fulfil its mandate. The NDA had reached a level of maturity where it had now positioned itself to commence with a systematic fund raising initiative. Initiatives included service level agreements with government departments to assist programmes and commercial opportunities for the sale and marketing of NDA project products. 


Discussion
Ms November noted that there was quite a bit of funding going towards communities and community projects; however, many of these projects collapsed. Projects could only be sustained if funds were being pumped in to them. She asked if the NDA monitored these projects, as that was the only way they would know what was happening.

Deputy Minister Dlamini stated that she was aware that there were programmes that were collapsing however the DSD provided training to ensure that people contributed towards the development and monitoring of the project. 

Ms Issel said that the NDA mostly worked with rural areas. Some provinces were more in need of funds than others, so NDA funding was not evenly distributed. Projects were monitored and evaluated. All projects had to submit their financial reports to the NDA. The projects were monitored every three to six months depending on how big the project was. When considering a project, the NDA also looked at how many jobs the project would create and how many beneficiaries there would be. 

Mr Mandla Ncube, Chief Financial Officer: NDA, stated that the collapse of programmes resulted from problems experienced with capacity, monitoring, mentoring and access to money. He added that the NDA hoped to have their website up and running by June 2010 so Members could see which projects they were involved in, in each province. 

Ms X Makasi (ANC) noted that there was an acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and asked what had happened to the previous CEO. She asked which areas in the provinces were given funding and how many NDA projects there were that were generating income. How much employment was created?

Ms Issel stated that the previous CEO turned in his resignation in February 2009. The NDA was in the process of appointing a new CEO.

She stated that the NDA never thought about returns on their investments when they looked at potential projects; however, they performed due diligence. Even though the NDA did not focus on returns, they looked at the sustainability of projects and how they could market products that resulted from projects they invested in.

Ms Issel added that the NDA needed more funds, as they received about 400 applications each day.

The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister for gracing the Committee with her presence. The meeting was adjourned. 

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