Soul City Presentation
Ms Lebogang Ramafoko Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication (Soul City) said that a brief overview of the organization would be provided and then a new documentary funded by the Department of Social Development (DSD) would be screened.
Soul City had two flagship programmes: Phuza Wize, which aimed to reduce drinking, and One Love, which dealt with HIV/AIDS education and prevention. One Love was launched in 2009 by the Johns Hopkins University and analyzed the effect of mass media on HIV/AIDS prevention. The project had reached 61 percent of the national population in the first five months of its launch. The campaign was distributed through Soul City TV and Radio, booklets, and dialogue. The Phuza Wize programme was also distributed through Soul City TV and Radio and booklets and was launched in 2010. The programme affected 42 communities with taverns and shebeens, with the aim of turning these communities into safe drinking zones. Phuza Wize was now trying to work with the Department of Basic Education to ensure that every school became alcohol free.
Soul City had a variety of other programmes, which included Soul Buddyz, which was aimed at children between eight and fourteen and provided children with materials to carry out suggested projects. There were currently over 7,000 clubs with 140,000 children nationally. These children met every week with trained facilitators. The emphasis of the programme was on children’s rights and responsibilities as well as on empowerment and gender. When facilitators were trained, it was important to emphasize that children were their own agents, taking on activities, as they wanted. There was equal participation between boys and girls and participation from those who had disabilities as well. This should not be an ‘elite’ club that excluded.
Ms Ramafoko presented a short video clip that highlighted the work that Soul Buddyz had done.
Ms Ramafoko discussed another programme within Soul City called Kwanda; a community makeover show that challenged teams of people to improve their communities. Kwanda was launched in 2007 when the City of Cape Town became intrigued with the use of reality television. Media was pervasive and attracted many audiences. Reality television had the ability to get communities engaged and could be used to address issues that people did not normally talk about. Kwanda partnered with the DSD to encourage communities to reach a common goal by uniting around one challenge. Kwanda went into five communities: Lephephane, uMthwalume, Pefferville, Tjakastad, and Kwakwatsi. The project was originally supposed to enter into nine communities, but there was not enough funding.
Soul City had had a variety of achievements. There had been real change by addressing real issues. Kwanda was active in five communities, Phuza Wize had teams in 42 communities, and there were active Soul Buddyz Clubs in every district.
The Kwanda documentary video highlighted the work of Kwanda in the community of Lephephane. In Lephephane, positive change was brought about in: increased access to female contraceptives, the introduction of a food garden and planted trees, increased access to bicycles for children, and the reduction of maladaptive drinking behaviour. Addressing the issue of alcohol abuse was particularly hard in Lephephane because owners of the taverns and shebeens were not willing to jeopardize their profits. There was a clear link between unemployment and alcoholism. Many social problems required a social change: norms must be altered.
Ms J Masilo (ANC) asked for clarification on the funding. Did Phuza Wize go into the townships? If not, the programme should look to expand into townships, as alcohol abuse was a large problem in the townships. Soul City should look to link with the constituency offices; this could be a good partnership with the community development workers.
Mr V Magagula (ANC) asked why Soul City was just present in five provinces and not nine?
Ms H Makhuba (COPE) thanked Soul City for the presentation, noting that it was encouraging to see that most of the issues that were spoken about today were issues that really affected the Committee as Members in their own communities. What were the disappointments in funding that Soul City had faced in the past year? How would Soul City deal with this lack of funding? Television ads were very expensive. One of the objectives of One Love was to reduce HIV/AIDS by ten percent by 2014, how was Soul City going to measure this?
Ms H Lamoela (DA) asked whether the lack of recreational facilities had had a large negative impact of the Kwanda programme? The presentation by Soul City spoke of linking with other existing services, however was this connection really linking services or simply duplicating them? Service providers should work together to maximize results. Also, for the Kwanda competition, what were the criteria for choosing a winner? Lastly, it was excellent to get children involved in things that actually mattered. It could be a great solution to drug abuse and child abuse. Why were the programmes offered by Soul City only limited to certain provinces? Was there outcry for these programmes in other provinces?
Ms P Tshwete (ANC) recognized that funding was a large issue for Soul City, but wondered if pilot projects could be launched in other communities? How did Soul City pay for its employees - with a stipend?
The Chairperson thanked Soul City for a great presentation and asked for it to be made available. How did Soul City use the money that the DSD was giving it? It would also be necessary to have an annual report. Soul City had adequately presented what it was currently doing, but should also include what it aimed to do in the future.
The Chairperson echoed the question of Mr Magagula - when was Soul City going to move out into other provinces? Coming from the Northern Cape, the Chairperson stated that there was a large drinking problem there and there was a need for strategic intervention. Kwanda’s intervention in communities should be sustainable. How could Members establish Soul Buddyz in their constituencies? How could one establish Kwanda in other communities?
The Chairperson referenced to the language used throughout the Soul City presentation stating that there should be safe drinking. The Minister of Social Development instead stated that one should not drink at all. The Committee should aim to follow this language.
Ms Ramafoko thanked the Committee for its suggestions and questions. The question of funding was a very complex one. She apologized for not mentioning financials. The audited financial statement would be sent after the meeting.
The disappointment in funding came from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC had changed its focus from social issues to more biomedical issues. The CDC had cut the funding by eight million rand over three years. Soul City had also enjoyed R18 million from the Department of Health, but only received R12 million this year.
The challenge with funding was that community work was ongoing. This was especially a challenge when an organization was dependent on donor funding. The best practice so far had been to work with provinces that were able to partner with Soul City and allocate their own resources. Such had been the case with the DSD in the North West. The DSD had invested three million rand in all districts in the North West. With that money, one could plan and get all of the materials that were needed. The challenge of funding would not change soon; there was a global downturn in the economy. Furthermore, international organizations did not always prioritize South Africa.
Ms Ramafoko addressed the question of extending Soul Buddyz Clubs. There was currently the infrastructure to extend the clubs. The programme had run for 11 years. The biggest challenge was for provinces to take ownership of the clubs so that the programme was sustainable. When Kwanda was started in 2007, there was an ambitious aim of including all nine provinces, however funding had since become an issue. Funding and provincial support had determined where Soul City invested its resources. Soul City had met with the Departments of Health, Social Development, and Basic Education to coordinate these efforts.
The process whereby Soul City partnered with communities was called community mapping. Members of the community were engaged by Soul City and trained. The idea was that when Kwanda came into to the community, it did not exclusively want to work with the community development elites. The community dialogue process took a number of people. Soul City wanted to attract a diverse number of people that offer a number of different assets. The principle that we work was that we facilitate a process and should critically engage. We were working from outside. No community Members could or should be ignored.
The lack of recreational facilities was a legitimate point. In Soul City’s engagement it tried to work with institutions that exist, like schools. Soul City tried to think outside of the box all of the time. One such example of this was working with Dream Fields, which aimed to promote sport in schools. The ability to implement programmes like Dream Fields was linked to funding and the province that was most willing. Certain Sports and Recreation Divisions in certain provinces would be more willing than others. It cost R1 500 to acquire a ‘Dream Bag’, which had sporting supplies. Soul City was forever looking at ways to extend recreational games to divert behaviour in youth from drinking.
Ms Ramafoko talked about the difficulties with the alcohol industry. The Alcohol industry was not taking Soul City's efforts lying down. It was coming in fast and furious with promotional activities. The industry was coming into where Soul City did Kwanda and selling the alcohol at cost price. Sometimes this created a situation where one felt like one was fetching water with a bucket that leaked. It was hard to compete with the alcohol industry. The industry really eroded the work that Soul City did. This was a hard problem to overcome unless legislation made this heavy advertising by the alcohol companies illegal. On 09 and 10f November, Soul City would be lobbying Government to charge an extra levy on alcohol.
Ms Ramafoko spoke about the participants in the Kwanda project stating that Soul City would not be able to give them a stipend. But they were in the Community Works Programme (CWP). They must work a minimum of twice a week. The CWP had really helped Soul City. The problem that South Africa had was that it had created disparities in different communities. There were many inconsistencies about who got what. Those that had worked with Soul City on the Kwanda project had gone above and beyond and truly had become the agents of change for many people.
Ms Ramafoko talked next about the Phuza Wise campaign. She stated that when Soul City developed any of its materials, it went through a research and development phase. Soul City wanted people to alter their drinking habits. By altering behaviour, Soul City was making a dent in the drinking problem. The challenge that Soul City was facing now was that the DSD needs to prioritize drinking programmes. There was also a problem with the distribution of materials. Soul City was still printing materials and 14 million booklets had been distributed relating to medical issues. However, this distribution was dysfunctional. Even with the Soul Buddyz programme, distribution of materials was extremely costly, around R12 million. To solve this problem, provinces were helping address the cost. Limpopo was using its budget to work with Soul City. There was also an issue with international donors in that they were very quick to cut funding. One could not tell the international donors that one wanted to reprint a book. International donors, such as the CDC, were into new ideas and wanted new books. This did not always make sense. For example, Soul City published a book in 1998 about Domestic Violence and it was still in high demand.
Ms Ramafoko referenced the issue of funding once again in regard to future work. The Soul City Series was ending. This programme dealt with multiple medical issues, such as mother-child transmission and male circumcision. Soul City would no longer be on the radio because there was no funding. This was particularly unfortunate when considering the fact that Soul City was able to reach the rural areas. There was also a severe lack of funding for community dialogue. For the Northern Cape, the CDC had given Soul City money, and Soul City would be doing Kwanda there for three years. In the Northern Cape, Soul City had partnered with other organizations but would need to strengthen health structures, specifically addressing fetal alcohol syndrome.
There was not enough money for the Soul Buddyz programme. There was not enough funding for the programme next year. It was also unsure whether Soul City would have funding for Soul City Radio for next year either. For Kwanda, the DSD had approved funding to go back to Lephephane where the documentary was filmed.
The Minister of Social Development had stated that she wanted Kwanda in all nine provinces. In every season of the television series, Soul City could be in nine different communities with one in each province. However, the success of this project rested on funding. The entire process was expensive. For example, there was a film crew recording people in the community for six months. The advantage was that the follow up was inexpensive. This documentary was going to be part of a day talk, and then there would be a studio discussion. The idea was that through Kwanda one built a social movement.
Ms Ramafoko would send the audited statements and information on the work that Soul City was doing in the Northern Cape. There was no money for any new media, except for Kwanda Talk. Limpopo was very keen to join as a province, but that had not been confirmed.
The Chairperson stated that instead of the financial statement, she would prefer the annual report.
Ms Makhuba stated that Soul Buddyz was for ages eight through 14 and was worried what would become of children after this age. High school was generally the time where students become involved in drugs and there should be a programme to address this age group.
The Chairperson stated that Love life targeted twelve through seventeen year olds.
Ms Ramafoko thanked the Chairperson and agreed that Love Live did target these ages. Soul City did not want to duplicate efforts. Soul City should look to partner with Love Live and find out how it could best transfer the students over to a new system. However, the Department of Basic Education had asked Soul City to look at a pilot programme for eighth graders, as this year had traditionally a high drop out rate.
Ms P Xaba (ANC) thanked Soul City for the presentation. She emphasized the need for schools to deal with the problem of drugs interfering with schooling.
The Chairperson thanked Ms Xaba for her comment. She also thanked Soul City for its presentation.
The meeting was adjourned.