The Sustainable Development Goals in South Africa
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in South Africa:
12 April 2021
The United Nations in South Africa signs MoU with government to provide support on the District Development Model aimed at progressing service delivery
O.R Tambo District, Eastern Cape – The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) and the United Nations in South Africa today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to kick start ground-breaking local development projects in O.R Tambo District in Eastern Cape Province. The partnership, which was ratified by Ms. Avril Williamson and the head of the UN in South Africa and Resident Coordinator, Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas, follows the launch of the District Development Model by government in late 2019 with the aim of enhancing service delivery in three pilot districts across three provinces including Waterburg District in Limpopo and eThekwini district in Kwazulu-Natal. In her address, the Resident Coordinator, Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas said that the UN South Africa office is very excited to provide support to government as “local government is where citizens and their Government interact the most and where most services are delivered. It is also where, for most people the government’s trust and legitimacy is won or lost”. She added that “to function effectively local government needs to be empowered, to be resourced and capacitated to be a driver of local development. Citizens are still having to travel long distances and even sleeping on the streets to access basic services only available in urban centres. We must reenergize our efforts to ensure that services reach all communities and are focused on their needs.” The UN in South Africa aims to provide government with support by realigning itself to support local government and service delivery and placing its resources and expertise at the disposal of municipalities and their citizens. “I am particularly excited about establishing Songhai centres, which have a proven track record of successfully boosting agriculture, but in a way that is sustainable,” said Ms. Bekele-Thomas. “They are a driver of employment and growth, while encouraging food security, they are a fitting embodiment of what the Sustainable Development Goals seek to achieve. These signature projects seek to empower citizens through the enhanced provision of services and bringing citizens and local government closer together.” Speaking at the groundbreaking launch of the DDM partnership with the United Nations, Minister Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma said that, the implementation would help lift millions of people out of poverty and open up space for job creation to stimulate the economy in O.R.Tambo District. The Minister, further emphasized that the district development model approach will assist in building sustainable, resilient communities in South Africa.
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13 July 2021
FAQs on the United Nations-Government’s Partnership on District Development Model (DDM)
Why DDM is important? Working together as partners, the districts of OR Tambo (Eastern Cape), Waterberg (Limpopo) and eThekwini (KwaZulu-Natal) as well as Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), the United Nations and other stakeholders have been able to identify bottlenecks to development that are affecting the efficient and effective delivery of services to local communities in the three districts. As a response to these bottlenecks, the partners have developed the District Development Model (DDM) to address the challenges to effective and efficient service delivery caused by government sectors operating in silos, which have had negative impacts and lead to a lack of coherence in planning and implementation. The silo approach to government delivery has also made it difficult to monitor and provide oversight to government’s programmes. What are the key features of DDM? The key component of the DDM is its ‘One Plan’ approach to local development. This approach is designed to incorporate public, private and civil society participation and investment in an effort to provide service delivery, localize procurement of goods and services and create jobs. The DDM places more emphasis on the importance of local area planning to realize its goals. To achieve this, all spheres of government must work in an integrated manner to create efficiency in service delivery. What will be the role of the UN implementing DDM? It is important to emphasize that the three DDM pilot projects are not UN projects but projects that have been identified by local authorities as development priorities. The role of the UN in the DDM will be to provide support in their implementation through its competencies and comparative advantage in South Africa. In implementing these projects, the UN will align them with the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF). The framework is the document that spells out the work of the UN in SA, focusing on the government’s development priorities. The UN has developed plans on signature projects that will be implemented in the three districts in collaboration with COGTA and the local authorities. These plans are built on three interrelated pillars: Unlocking Economic Value Chains, Social Transformation and Service Delivery enhancement.
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06 July 2021
The Long Road to OR Tambo District
On a chilly early Tuesday morning with a light drizzle engulfing the small town of Mthatha in Eastern Cape Province, small bands of people started to trickle in at the sprawling country lodge for what many agreed was a ground-breaking signing ceremony for a partnership agreement between the Government and the United Nations in South Africa. As the hours ticked by towards the kick-off time for the event, organizers became increasingly anxious that the unforgiving weather would discourage many people from attending. As it turned out, signs of a potential poor turnout quickly evaporated – as did the menacing clouds, giving way to a stream of more arrivals and reassuring organizers of a potentially well-attended event. Staff began putting up branding material in and around the huge white marquee that would host the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding between the partners UN and the Government on implementing various community projects under what is termed the district development model (DDM). The model was formulated following studies that pointed to bottlenecks to development which are impeding the efficient delivery of services to local communities in the three districts of OR Tambo (Eastern Cape Province), Waterberg (Limpopo) and eThekwini (KwaZulu-Natal). In response to these bottlenecks, the UN and its Government partners developed the DDM to address the challenges to service delivery caused by government sectors operating in silos, which has had negative impact in project planning and implementation. The silo approach to government delivery has also made it difficult to monitor projects and provide oversight. As required by Covid-19 protocols, invited guests were limited to half the capacity of the venue. Dignitaries at the event included the head of the United Nations and Resident Coordinator in the country, Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas; the Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Ms. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma; the Mayor of Mthatha, Goodman Nyaniso Nelani; the Mayor of OR Tambo District Municipality, Thokozile Sokhanyile and several heads of UN agencies based in South Africa as well as other senior Government officials. In her address, Ms. Bekele-Thomas said that the UN South Africa office was very excited to provide support to government as “local government is where citizens and their government interact the most and where most services are delivered. It is also where, for most people, the government’s trust and legitimacy is won or lost”. “To function effectively local government needs to be empowered, to be resourced and capacitated to be a driver of local development. Citizens are still having to travel long distances and even sleeping on the streets to access basic services only available in urban centres. We must reenergize our efforts to ensure that services reach all communities and are focused on their needs,” she added. The UN in South Africa aims to provide government with support by realigning itself to support local government and service delivery and placing its resources and expertise at the disposal of municipalities and their citizens. “I am particularly excited about establishing Songhai centres, which have a proven track record of successfully boosting agriculture, but in a way that is sustainable,” said Ms. Bekele-Thomas. “They are a driver of employment and growth, while encouraging food security, they are a fitting embodiment of what the Sustainable Development Goals seek to achieve. These signature projects seek to empower citizens through the enhanced provision of services and bringing citizens and local government closer together.” Minister Dlamini-Zuma told the gathering that the implementation of the partnership projects would help lift millions of people out of poverty and open up space for job creation to stimulate the economy in OR Tambo District. She further emphasized that the district development model approach will assist in building sustainable, resilient communities in South Africa. The model is made up of district-specific signature projects based on three interrelated pillars. These include the Unlocking Economic Value Chain pillar that deliberately focuses on growing an inclusive and sustainable economy, the Social Transformation pillar that seeks to tackle Gender-Based Violence and Femicide through increased stakeholder partnerships and advocacy, as well as the Service Delivery and Governance Enhancement pillar, which aims to resuscitate and restructure entities such as the Thusong Service Centres, which for decades have been a conduit for citizens to access public services and information.
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12 July 2021
‘We are with you’: The Sinawe Thuthuzela Care Centre providing hope for survivors of sexual violence
Lerato,* a 20-year-old first-year student at the local university, hunkers down on her chair a few metres from where I’m sitting, with her head fixed to the floor. She looks sad, tired and dejected, avoiding any eye contact, obviously ashamed of what we were going to talk about. During our roughly ten-minute talk, she gave short, hesitant answers. Dressed in a pink tank top and fading jeans with a small yellow handbag sitting on her lap, Lerato had come for her second assessment at a care centre for victims of rape. On a quiet early Saturday evening – about a week before I met Lerato – while walking back home from the shops, a car abruptly stopped in the middle of the road and two men violently dragged her inside before speeding off. A few minutes later, the car stopped at a dark spot. Shocked and helpless – and before she could process what was happening, one man raped her as the other watched. Overnight, Lerato became one of the latest victims of sexual violence against women in South Africa. According to police statistics, there were 53,295 reported sexual offenses during the year between April 2019 and March 2020, an increase of 1.7% from the previous reporting period. This is the equivalent of a sexual offense every ten minutes. And these are only cases reported to the police. Experts believe the majority of the offenses are never reported. We are with you Some women, like Lerato, end up at care centres specifically set up to help victims of sexual violence. There are more than 50 such centres scattered throughout South Africa serving as “one-stop facilities” or frontline posts in the war against rape. Their key role is “to reduce secondary victimization, improve conviction rates and reduce the time” between when a crime is committed and when the perpetrator is finally convicted. The centres are attached or located close to hospitals, ensuring victims have access to urgent medical attention. One such facility is the Sinawe Thuthuzela Care Centre located in the small town of Mthatha in Eastern Cape Province. Sinawe means “we are with you” in Xhosa, one of the country’s eleven official languages. It was at this centre that the head of the United Nations in South Africa (also called the UN Resident Coordinator), Nardos Bekele-Thomas, and her team – which included the head of the UN Women in Southern Africa, Anne Githuku-Shongwe – converged to sign an agreement with the government to revive the struggling local care centres, among other projects. The plan is to pilot an approach to development that targets specific districts identified as most vulnerable to operational bottlenecks that slows down the delivery of social services to local communities. Three districts in the provinces of Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal are expected to benefit from the programme termed “the district development model”. Impact of Thuthuzela Centres For many years, one-stop crisis centres made remarkable progress in living up to expectations. In 2012-2013, the Sinawe Centre won an award for being the best-run care centre in South Africa. Dr. Nomonde Ndyalvan, an energetic, highly motivated and enthusiastic woman, heads the Sinawe Centre, which sits across the road from the provincial Mthatha General Hospital. She wears several hats as an activist on gender, disability and mental health issues. Dr. Ndyalavan is also “an active member” of the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC). A qualified medical doctor, Dr. Ndyalvan, 53, started as a volunteer in 2002, a year after the Sinawe Centre was launched. Notwithstanding the countless and formidable hurdles she faces as the manager, one easily senses the high energy and enthusiasm she exhibits once she starts talking about her job at the centre. “The management needed doctors, counsellors, mental health specialists and nurses to come work here. It was emotionally challenging knowing how the women were being raped,” she recalls. Herself disabled, Dr. Ndyalvan says as a disability activist, “I realized that people with disabilities were targets for rape. And the statistics on this are high.” Night doctors Shocked by the enormity of sexual violence in the district, Dr. Ndyalvan opted to work full time at the centre in March 2009. “There was no full-time doctor. The patients would wait for the whole day for university doctors to come, and they would only be seen at night.” As the years went by, the Thuthuzela model gained fame. Incident reports from rape victims shot up. Prosecutors upped their game. The upshot was high conviction rates of offenders as more women felt safe enough to report cases to the police and care centres. Because the care centres offered dignified and friendly settings, they reduced secondary trauma among survivors. “Now we see about 60 to 80 patients a month on a low season,” says Dr. Ndyalvan, as she sat behind her office desk, a stone’s throw away from Mthatha General Hospital. “During holidays and festive seasons, rape cases go up to between 100 and 120 per month. We cover patients from as far as 200kms away. We go beyond OR Tambo municipality.” OR Tambo is one of the poorest municipalities in Eastern Cape Province, itself the most-poverty stricken of South Africa’s nine provinces. In 2012, UNICEF completed the construction of the building currently occupied by the Sinawe centre with funds from the Danish government and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Asked who was funding the care centres, Dr. Ndyalvan conceded it wasn’t clear. “The bigger chunk of the budget to run the centre comes from the Department of Health. The department has also been maintaining the centre. But now we have been told that the department doesn’t have money anymore” as the budget for the centre is not clear where it is coming from. The centre now relies on funds from other stakeholders for its running costs. The programme is an “orphan” as the centre does not feature at all in the hospital’s organogram. “We are just treating victims” According to Dr. Ndyalvan, the current set up is that each department pays for its people, i.e., health workers receive their salaries from their respective departments. For example, doctors and nurses are paid by the health department, social workers by the social development department while prosecutors and magistrates, NGOs and police – who are all located at or closer to the centres – are on the payroll of relevant government departments. When I asked Dr. Ndyalvan what she would consider as the main challenge facing the Thuthuzela centres, she said without hesitation: “The lack of a coordinator and a clear reporting structure. There is no one [entity] stakeholder from the multidisciplinary team which is directly responsible for the centre.” NPA has been trying to coordinate and lead but challenges still remain. “The municipalities are not involved. Now that UN is here, we hope they will assist to align it and develop this centre through the district development model,” she said, adding, “Gender-based violence is such a bigger challenge in this part of the world. The districts must own these centres because the current model doesn’t address the issues of preventing rape. They are just treating victims.” The challenge for the UN is do the best it can under the circumstances while at the same time managing the expectations that Dr. Ndyalvan and Lerato might have of the UN given its limited resources. *Not her real name. Services offered at the Thuthuzela Care Centres Welcome and comfort from a site coordinator or nurse. An explanation of how the medical examination will be conducted and what clothing might be taken for evidence. A consent form to sign that allows the doctor to conduct the medical examination. A nurse in the examination room. After the medical examination, there are bath and shower facilities for the victims to use. An investigation officer will interview the survivor and take his/her statement. A social worker or nurse will offer counselling. A nurse arranges for follow-up visits, treatment and medication for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), HIV and AIDS. A referral letter or appointment will be made for long-term counselling The victim (survivor) is offered transportation home by an ambulance or the investigating officer. Arrangements for the survivor to go to a place of safety, if necessary. Consultations with a specialist prosecutor before the case go to court. Court preparation by a victim assistant officer. An explanation of the outcome and update of the trial process by a case manager. Source: National Prosecuting Authority, “Thuthuzela Care Centre: Turning Victims into Survivors”
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07 July 2021
The District Development Model launch kicks-off in Waterberg
The initiative by the Government and the United Nations in South Africa to resuscitate district projects in the country’s three provinces picked up momentum in June when they gathered in Waterberg, Limpopo Province, to launch the partnership following a similar event in the Eastern Cape Province in April. The head of the United Nations in South Africa and Resident Coordinator, Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas, joined the Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, at the official launch of the partnership designed to implement what is officially termed the District Development Model (DDM). The event, held on 11 June, was the culmination of a three-day programme that included visits to the sites in Waterberg District that have been identified for restoration which included Business Solution Centres, Thusong Service Centres as well as Thuthuzela Care Centres as conduits to drive inclusive economic growth, social transformation and improve service delivery. Speaking at the gathering, Ms. Bekele-Thomas said her visit to the Thuthuzela Care Centres and Victim Support Centres in the district “highlighted that partnerships between stakeholders are key to their success. A multi-sectoral and a multi-stakeholder approach is needed to ensure that victims of gender-based violence receive the support that they deserve and are empowered to reintegrate back into society.” “We need to build upon the architecture of our support by strengthening our victim referral systems. As we move forward, we must find ways to address the infrastructural and security challenges that leave victims feeling unsafe,” said Ms. Bekele-Thomas. She emphasized the need to present a united whole-of-society approach that is rooted in partnership, community and acting with urgency and shared the “three key factors that I believe are essential to the success of our shared endeavour.” The first key factor was the need for communities to be placed at the heart of the district development model through engagement, consultations and empowerment. “They need to be brought into the decision-making process. Communities confer legitimacy on what we do. We need to improve communication, improve consultations, we need to make sure that our policies are informed by a bottom-up process.” The second factor was to fully embrace change in how services are delivered and technology harnessed to improve people’s lives in a post-pandemic world. “South Africa, Limpopo and the Waterberg District cannot be, must not be, left behind,” she said. “Embracing change means a just transition from fossil fuels and embracing the Green Economy. It means fully embracing a mindset that truly embraces the concept of service to the people.” The third factor was to translate words, policies and dialogue into results, the Resident Coordinator said. “The people have been patient for long enough – we should not try their patience further! The longer policies and plans take to translate into palpable, concrete results, the less legitimacy they have, the less legitimacy we have.” She reminded her audience that they didn’t have the luxury of time. “We need a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach.” The Waterberg integrated implementation plan will unlock the economic value chains, deliberately focusing on growing an inclusive and sustainable economy. It is also expected to tackle Gender-Based Violence and Femicide through increased stakeholder partnerships and advocacy to engender social transformation, whilst enhancing service delivery and the capacity of the municipality, through the Thusong Service Centres, as a one stop shop for access to information and services. In her speech, Minister Dlamini-Zuma emphasized that the DDM was not a project but rather an inclusive way of working that is premised on social partnership between government, business and communities. “As we pay homage to Mama Charlotte Maxeke, we are reminded of her reverberating words that when you rise, rise with someone, and I’m confident that the DDM will assist our communities to rise,” she said. Minister Dlamini Zuma was joined by the Minister of Small Business Development, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, who is the DDM District Champion; the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu; a Member of the Executive Committee in Limpopo, Basikopo Makamu; and the Executive Mayor of Waterberg District, Cllr Morris Mataboge, as well as mayors of local municipalities.
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