Mozambique Minister of Trade and Industry to Officially Open Dialogue on Regional Cross Border Trade
The Honourable Minister of Trade and Industry in Mozambique, Armando Inroga, will on the 24th of April 2013 officially open a dialogue on regional cross border trade in Maputo, Mozambique. The dialogue will create a platform for informal cross border traders from SADC countries to engage on critical issues of the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA). The TFTA is a free trade agreement being negotiated between the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Eastern African Community (EAC). Other issues to be discussed will include the SADC Free Trade Area, COMESA and the simplified trade regime. Mozambique Informal Cross Border Traders Association (Mukhero) and the Southern Africa Cross Border Traders Association (SACBTA) will host the regional meeting with support from Southern Africa Trust and Oxfam.
Cross Border Trade (CBT) has the potential to contribute significantly to economic, sustainable growth and development in southern Africa. It is estimated that Informal Cross Border Trade in Africa contributes about 43% of official Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, because cross border traders often operate outside the formal economy, they face challenges in their undertakings which exacerbate conditions of extreme poverty in their communities. Due to poor literacy levels and inadequate access to information on trade regulations for the different Regional Economic Communities (RECs), traders make repetitive payments for redundant documentation and procedures and certificate of origin requirements. Their business is hampered by limited access to financial assistance. Moreover, women are subjected to harassment and sexual abuse especially at the border posts for favours with clearance.
Click here to download the full text of Cross Border Trade Dialogue.
SADC Must Guarantee Food Sovereignty through Agrarian Reform
With support from the Southern Africa Trust, Via Campesina, the Trust for Community Outreach Education (TCOE) and the National Peasant Union of Mozambique convened The Peoples Dialogue. This was held from the 13th to the 15th of August in parallel to the 31st SADC Heads of State Summit.
In this year's dialogue, participants discussed factors affecting SADC's economic growth and development which include food sovereignty, land and water grabbing as well as climate change.
After three-days of discussion, debates and analysis, the SADC Peoples Summit and The Peoples Dialogue came up with a joint declaration which called for SADC to guarantee food sovereignty through agrarian reform and the establishment of indigenous seed banks. The declaration also called for governments to be accountable to the people of SADC in agreements affecting extractive industries as well as the implementation of the protocol on free movement of people. It was then presented to the SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Tomaz Augusto Salomao, after a march with over 1000 people participating which ended at the venue of the SADC Heads of State Summit in Maputo.
The Peoples Dialogue is deeply rooted around rural movements, peasant organisation and smallholder unions. It is space where participants come together to share experiences and perspectives on developing alternatives to neo-liberal globalisation.
Click here to download the full text of the statement from the SADC People's Summit.
The SADC We Want
The Southern Africa Trust supported the 8th Southern Africa Civil Society Forum, which was held from the 6th to the 9th of August 2012 in Maputo, Mozambique. The theme for this year's session was "The SADC We Want".
The forum aims to bring together a unified civic voice that will influence the SADC agenda towards overcoming poverty. It is a platform for discussion, analysis and debate on issues of concern to civil society that impact regional integration and development.
A statement was adopted which addressed the demands of civil society through a shared vision of "the SADC we want". In the statement, civil society called for the expeditious implementation of the SADC gender protocol, recognizing that the region is still facing the challenge of gender inequality. Other issues demanded for in the statement include the promotion of the decent work agenda, signing of the free movement of person protocol, promotion of the informal economy and address the challenge of trade and regional economic integration.
The Southern Africa Civil Society Forum is a joint collaboration of the regional apex alliance, the Economic Justice Network (EJN) of the Fellowship for Christian Councils in Southern Africa (FOCCISA), Southern Africa Trade Union Coordination Council (SATUCC) and the SADC Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (SADC-CNGO).
The Trust's Support to Smallholder Farmers for Increased Food Security in the Region
On the 23rd of August 2012, the Southern Africa Trust hosted a food security task team meeting to discuss and develop a program of action to support smallholder farmers for increased household food security. The task team prepared for the upcoming regional food security policy dialogue that will be held in October 2012 in Lusaka, Zambia. They discussed how they will take forward the recommendations made by smallholder farmers from the previous dialogue held in Pretoria in June 2011.
The meeting was attended by SOLIDARIDAD, Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), Eastern and Southern Africa Farmers' Forum (ESAFF) Zimbabwe, ESAFF Zambia, ESAFF Lesotho, Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU), National Peasant Union of Mozambique (UNAC), Trust for Community Outreach Education (TCOE) and the National Association of Smallholder Farmer (NASFAM) Malawi and.
The meeting reiterated that smallholder farmers play an important role in meeting food requirements at household level. For example, Malawi and Zambia smallholder farmers meet 80% of the nation's food requirement. If smallholder farmers are empowered with the necessary agricultural resources, food security is achievable in southern Africa. The performance of the agriculture sector has been declining because of the challenges smallholder farmers face, which includes lack of agricultural inputs, inadequate land and poor infrastructure.
The meeting recommended actions that the voice of smallholder farmers should be prominent in policy making platforms through the organisation and coordinated policy advocacy interventions. Smallholder farmers ought to be agile in seeking policy change and challenging existing inappropriate national and regional agricultural policies. The meeting also noted the persisting non-recognition of smallholder platforms in regional and national policy making platforms. Finally a programme of action was developed to strengthen smallholder farmers' participation in policy advocacy, linking to output markets and addressing production constraints.
Southern Africa Trust and SAMA establishing a regional mineworkers association
On 26th - 27th June 2012, the Southern Africa Trust held a meeting with representatives from the Southern Africa Mineworkers Association (SAMA), a regional association of mine workers. The purpose of the meeting was two-fold, firstly to have more information on SAMA; its membership and organisational structure and, secondly to examine how the Trust and SAMA can collaborate on designing an implementable programme on the "portability of social security benefits for the migrant workers", especially for the migrant mine workers within the SADC region.
SAMA was represented by Messrs Rantso Mantsi from Lesotho (President of SAMA), Moises Umausse from Mozambique (Secretary General of SAMA), and Vama Jele from Swaziland (Treasurer of SAMA), all of them being ex-miners. The Trust was represented Dr Themba Mhlongo and Dr Prega Ramsamy. Also present was Dr Nyenti Mathias from the University of Johannesburg representing CICLASS who undertook the initial scoping study on portability of social security benefits for migrant workers in SADC.
The President of SAMA, Mr Rantso Mansti, welcomed the meeting with the Southern Africa Trust which he described as timely, constructive and a ray of hope for ex-miners. SAMA has a membership of 2,700 miners across the region and has a potential to grow. Its mandate is to (i) assist ex-miners to get their social benefits from their employers (ii) reduce poverty through social reinsertion and job creation after retrenchment of miners (iii) build capacity and encourage self employment (iv) mobilise funds for the sustainable development of communities of ex-miners (v) create a database for research, communication and documentation of ex-miners, widows and orphaned children and (vi) advocate and lobby for full participation of ex-miners in the decision making process affecting them at national, regional and international levels.
SAMA briefed the Trust on progress in establishing the organisation including the expansion of membership beyond Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland. They also reported on the activities SAMA has undertaken while being established which include prevention of the spread of HIV and AIDS through the involvement of mine workers. SAMA agreed to provide all necessary information to the University of Johannesburg (CICLASS) to enable them to prepare the background document for the first meeting of the task force on the "Portability of Social Benefits for Migrant Workers".
The Trust briefed SAMA on the progress following the public dialogue on cross border migration and portability of social security benefits which was held in Pretoria on 25 March 2011. The Trust undertook to explore ways to support the establishment of SAMA including institutional capacity development and linking SAMA with other relevant stakeholders including donors.
Members of the Southern Africa Mineworkers Association (SAMA), from left: Messrs Rantso Mantsi, Moises Umausse, Vama Jele.
Sustaining Multi-Stakeholder Processes In Africa
Poverty in all its dimensions is the major development challenge facing the African region. Strong Multi-Stakeholder Processes (MSPs) are increasingly seen as relevant and necessary mechanisms to engage all stakeholders to eradicate poverty, including governments, the private sector, civil society organizations, and academia.
The Change Alliance is a global network launched in 2009 aiming to create the conditions and capacities for effective MSPs. It supports specific stakeholder processes and links these to a global learning platform, in which lessons learnt are shared and new knowledge and understanding about these processes are created.
The Change Alliance focuses in particular on increasing the effectiveness of MSPs that are working towards transformational social change in complex settings. It forges joint processes in order to learn about, develop and strengthen the capacity to achieve systemic change. In addition, it brings together experienced process facilitators to synthesize experiences on methods for MSPs facilitation.
Facilitating these processes goes beyond organising interactive events or 'workshop facilitation' - it is about the design and facilitation of long-term, systemic change processes.
These approaches raise a number of challenges and questions:
What are the roles of the convening or initiating organisations (often donors)?
How can we bring on board a diverse group of stakeholders, especially the private sector?
How do we deal with conflicts, diverse interests and power imbalances?
What is needed to make multi-actor collaboration locally sustainable?
How can these approaches be married with persistent (conventional) linear development approaches?
What capacities are needed to facilitate long term change processes?
As a follow-up of a two-day Inspiring Changeevent held in Nairobi at the end of the year 2010, the Change Alliance will continue exchanging experiences in Africa around these challenges and questions, by organizing a next MSP event in South Africa. This event is embedded in a strategy for longer term engagement and network development for MSPs in Africa.
The Southern Africa Trust is partnering with the Change Alliance and has proposed to host this regional event on 24 - 25 April 2012 in Johannesburg. The Southern Africa Trust has a history of connecting organizations and development leadership that provides network connections and infrastructure resources. It is involved in a broad range of MSPs and regional stakeholder platforms in a variety of fields. Their initiatives can be involved in the envisaged Change Alliance Network of Practice in Africa.
Miracle Tree is Like a Supermarket By Kristin Palitza
When a food crisis hits the continent, African countries tend to look to the international donor community to mobilise aid. But a fast-growing, drought- resistant tree with extremely nutritious leaves could help poor, arid nations to fight food insecurity and malnutrition on their own.
A 15-hectare plantation of the "miracle tree" with the botanical name Moringa oleifera has already started to make a positive change in the rural village of Tooseng, which is located in one of South Africa's poorest provinces, Limpopo. Moringa leaves are dubbed a "super food" because scientists found that they contain the calcium equivalent of four glasses of milk, the vitamin C content of seven oranges, the potassium of three bananas, three times the amount of iron found in spinach, four times the amount of vitamin A found in a carrot and twice the amount of protein in milk. It is like a supermarket on a tree.
Mavis Mathabatha, a former school teacher from Tooseng, has been working hard to set up a Moringa farm over the past three years that will produce enough leaves to make a positive difference in her community and further afield. "I want to make an impact in my area, province and across the country through this project," she explains In 2009, she started harvesting, drying und grinding Moringa leaves from the first few trees she had planted, to sprinkle them on the meals provided to about 400 poor children at the local Sedikong sa Lerato (meaning "Circle of Love" in Sesotho) drop-in centre. The centre feeds children from households with a combined income of less than 250 dollars a month, which includes practically all boys and girls in Tooseng, a community suffering from high rates of unemployment, poverty, food insecurity and low diet-diversity, malnutrition and HIV-infection. "The results were visible almost immediately. The health of the children improved in a short period of time," says Elizabeth Serogole, the drop-in centre's manager who works closely with Mathabatha. She says many children had been showing signs of malnutrition, like open sores on their skins, which started to heal soon after the children regularly ate the leaves.
Supplementing their meals with Moringa also notably increased children's ability to ward off new illness and infection and boosted their mental development, Serogole adds: "Most can now better concentrate at school." All it needed was one teaspoon of leaf powder a day. Dr Samson Tesfay, a postdoctoral scholar at the South African University of KwaZulu-Natal's Horticultural Science Department, confirms that Moringa is truly a multi-purpose wonder. "The Moringa plant is unique in that every part can be utilised for beneficial purposes. It has medicinal, therapeutic, nutritive and practical uses. It is extremely effective in combating malnutrition," says Tesfay. In addition, Moringa's immature pods were full of essential amino acids.
Moringa leaves can also be used for medicinal purposes, to treat skin infections, lower blood pressure and blood sugar, reduce swelling, heal gastric ulcers and to calm the nervous system, Tesfay further explains. The plant, which is native to northern India, has been used in Ayurveda medicine for centuries and is said to prevent 300 diseases. Moreover, the seeds of the tree can be used to purify water in rural areas where access to clean drinking water is difficult and often a cause for disease. "The seeds are effective in removing about 98 percent of impurities and microbes from contaminated water," says Tesfay.
The slender tree with drooping branches is non-invasive, needs little water and grows fast, reaching a height of three metres within a year. It even grows steadily in Tooseng, in South Africa's northeast, an arid region that has been suffering from repeated lack of rainfall in recent years. "The tree can survive in relatively unfavourable conditions and does not require sophisticated and expensive farming methods or inputs," explains Tesfay. Moringa could thus indeed become a widely used hunger prevention method, food experts say, as it can grow in all of the world's subtropical areas, where droughts and malnutrition are prevalent – in most parts of Africa, Central and South America, the Middle East and South-East Asia.
Since 2009, Mathabatha has built up her Moringa plantation little by little. After she heard about the multiple benefits of the tree, she applied for a grant from regional funding agency Southern Africa Trust, which helped her to set up her own plantation. Today, she is the proud owner of 13,000 Moringa trees. But Mathabatha did not stop here. She wanted to share her discovery of Moringa's nutritious benefits with others and has therefore distributed more than 6,000 Moringa seedlings to poor families in various communities around Tooseng, together with a nutrition education campaign.
"Planting and distributing Moringa is a holistic approach to deal with the problem of food insecurity," Ashley Green-Thompson, who managed the project grant, explains why the Southern Africa Trust decided to finance the project. "The level of household food insecurity is one of the key indicators of poverty, and it's very high in this region."
Today, Mathabatha's farm produces and packages up to 10,000 tonnes a year of Moringa leaf powder, which is distributed not only within South Africa, but also exported to Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho. "I am hoping to further extend my market in the next few years. There is a lot of interest in my product," Mathabatha says. But it is the urge to help much more than the desire to make money that motivates Mathabatha to expand her business. At the cost 60 cents per 40 grams of leaf powder – which lasts one person for about a month – the 52-year-old business woman puts affordability clearly before profits.
SACAU embraces good corporate governance to enhance credibility of farmer organisations
With support from the Southern Africa Trust, the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) embraced good governance practices and elected a new board at its annual general meeting on 18 May 2011. In the process, SACAU developed a governance instrument to enhance credibility of farmer organisations as well as strengthen their leadership to effectively influence pro-poor agriculture policies.
The governance framework includes revised articles of association which came into effect on the 18 May 2011, which introduce a category for associate membership of organisations with a regional outreach to participate in agricultural value chains. The code of conduct and ethics commits SACAU and its members to high standards of ethical conduct in management and employment practices, whilst good corporate governance guides the minimum acceptable standards for member organisations.
A new board for SACAU was also elected; Douglas Taylor-Freeme from the Commercial Farmers’ Union in Zimbabwe was re-elected for a third term as President of SACAU, and Mr Felix Jumbe from the Farmers Union of Malawi and Dr Theo de Jager from Agri-South Africa were elected as vice presidents.
Beam of Hope for Chagossians
Supported by the Southern Africa Trust, the Chagos Refugee Group (CRG) constructed a training and resource centre for poor Chagossian refugees in Mauritius.
The centre, which was launched in March 2010, offers computer literacy training for young people, career counselling for high school students, and after school care for younger children. Working in collaboration with the Ministry of Women Rights through training in adult literacy, cookery and Information Technology, the project also empowers Chagossian women.
The Southern Africa Trust will continue to support a food retail project for Chagossian women through its Change4ever campaign.
Social Security Policy in need of a Multi-Faceted Approach to Improve Integration
"Social security policy in Southern Africa is fragmented; it has no clear or common approach to migration within the region," were the voices from the public dialogue hosted on 25 March 2010 by the Southern Africa Trust. The dialogue was held in partnership with the Flemish Government, the Centre for International and Comparative Labour and Social Security Law (CICLASS), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the University of Johannesburg.
Representatives from government departments and agencies in South Africa, Mozambique and Lesotho were in attendance. "The first thing with law is that it restricts access to benefits. There are social security laws governing UIF and social assistance, but also the impediments of immigration law, which regulates the rights of migrants. The laws by themselves are a major impediment," said Mathias Nyenti from CICLASS.
Various participants from research institutions, international organisations, private sector and civil society organisations also made recommendations on ways to improve access to social security benefits for migrant workers. These will be taken up at the upcoming SADC meeting in Namibia in April 2011.
Southern Africa Trust and TrustAfrica Jointly Publish Major Civil Society Book
The Southern Africa Trust and TrustAfrica jointly published a book; (Dis) Enabling the Public Sphere: Civil Society Regulation in Africa (Volume 1).
The book investigates relations that have developed between states and their citizens as well as interrogates the role that civil society formations have played in the democratisation and governance of Africa's public sphere. It was edited by Dr. Bhekinkosi Moyo, the Program Director at TrustAfrica and it features a foreword by renowned development activist Graça Machel.
The volume, which features in-depth analysis of the increasingly contentious relationships between state and non-state actors in 18 African countries, is drawing interest from members of the diplomatic corps, academics, governments, development policy makers, representatives of civil society as well as national and international organizations.
Voices of Informal Cross Border Traders Strengthened
Informal cross border trade has not featured on the SADC trade agenda. This is reflected in its absence in the Protocol on Trade although evidence shows that this sector contributes between 30 to 40 percent of SADC intra-regional trade worth more than 17 billion dollars per year. After conducting research on the importance of informal cross border trade in poverty reduction in the SADC region and through evidence based advocacy to SADC, the Southern Africa Trust has succeeded in putting informal cross border trade on the agenda of the SADC International Conference on Poverty and Development in 2008. The Conference Declaration recognized the importance and recommended to give a particular attention to this sector.
Since then, the Southern Africa Trust has supported national associations of informal cross border traders of SADC countries. A regional workshop in Malawi in October 2008 decided the establishment of a regional platform of Informal Cross Border Traders and the following meeting in Zimbabwe in May 2009, adopted the strategic plan, elected the leadership of the regional platform and decided to be located in Gaborone in order to engage SADC on a daily basis.
Today, although not yet formalized, informal cross border trade has gained recognition on the SADC agenda. The photo exhibition organized in August 2010 in Windhoek (Namibia) alongside the SADC Summit demonstrates that informal cross border traders can speak up and voice their concerns and challenges they face when they do their business.
Diversification from Banana Farming to Upland Rice Farming in Tanzania Provides Income and Increases Food Security for Smallholder Farmers
Through the promotion of upland rice farming, sixty (60) smallholder farmers (30 men and 30 women) from the Missenyi and Kagera regions in Tanzania were able to increase their household incomes through increased productivity. The increase in rice production, up to 11 tonnes realized in the 2010, also provided a food substitute in place of bananas.
With the support of the Southern Africa Trust, the beneficiary smallholder farmers were trained in upland rice farming, planting, managing and harvesting using principles of sustainable agriculture such as crop rotation.
The smallholder farmers were provided with 600kgs of upland rice seeds as well as organic fertilizer.
Before the project, smallholder farmers in the two regions were faced with land infertility, attacks on banana plants by diseases, lack of environmentally friendly techniques to farming as well as poor farming practices. Food production had also declined due to HIV/AIDS prevalence in the area.
Food Gardens Improve the Livelihoods of Visually Impaired People of Grahamstown
With support from the Southern Africa Trust, and through the Grahamstown Area Distress Relief Association (GADRA) project, ten (10) visually impaired individuals were trained in agricultural practices such as mulching, fertilization, planting and harvesting. Ten (10) gardens were established that directly benefit up to a total of 52 individuals. In addition, water taps were installed at the homes of the visually impaired to help with watering the gardens and fences erected to protect the produce from being destroyed by cows and goats.
This has enabled at least half of the beneficiaries to earn an income by selling some of their produce. Five (5) of the households sell their produce and earn between R100 to R200 extra income per month. The beneficiaries are now suppliers to the Fruit and Veg City (one of South Africa's largest fresh produce market). The gardens have also helped them to meet their nutritional needs, especially for those who have HIV. In addition, the project has played a role in building the self esteem of these beneficiaries. In July 2010, a soup kitchen was started that provides food once a week to approximately 30 individuals who are on ARV treatment.
Apart from the skills training in gardening, GADRA also provides other skills and activities for the visually impaired including beekeeping, sewing, computer literacy, current affairs sessions, and musical bands sessions.