Frequently Asked Questions

What is the vision of the Southern Africa Trust and what role is it playing in curbing poverty in Southern Africa?

The Southern Africa Trust’s aim is for the poor to have a better say in shaping policies to overcome poverty in southern Africa so that policies and strategies across the region work to overcome poverty. It supports organisations and processes to deepen and widen engagement in policy dialogue with a regional impact on poverty.

What is the Southern Africa Trust approach to development?

The Southern Africa Trust does not presume to have all the answers. It is interested in learning and innovation for sustained development and a sustainable end to poverty. Nor does the Southern Africa Trust believe that there is one answer for every context. Contextual analysis and evidence are crucial to addressing poverty effectively.

However, the Southern Africa Trust does believe that the quality of the process of policy development to address poverty not only determines the quality of the policies developed but their effectiveness as well. Policies are the outcome of processes of bargaining and negotiation between different interest groups of varied power and influence.

The Trust also believes that effective policies to address poverty should at once address both the supply side and the demand side of development inputs. Put simply, it makes little difference to provide electricity infrastructure to a person who cannot afford to pay for it because she has no income, for example. In a context of extreme inequality and chronic poverty such as southern Africa, the Southern Africa Trust believes that a mix of a “rights-based approach” (i.e. a needs-driven, social justice, and supply-side focus) to ensure social equity and a “sustainable livelihoods approach” (i.e. an assets-driven, market development, and demand-side focus) to create new wealth is appropriate.

The Southern Africa Trust further believes that an adaptable and responsive policy environment informed by the real experiences and practices of people living in poverty must be developed. In addition, it believes that efforts to overcome poverty are most effective when resources are placed directly where poverty is and that social, economic, political, and human development are all essential to overcoming poverty.
Ultimately, the Southern Africa Trust remains open to supporting different and innovative approaches that hold out the potential to reach its aims.

What does the Southern Africa Trust think poverty looks like in southern Africa?

Poverty in southern Africa is characterised by chronic livelihoods insecurity, at once exacerbated by and exacerbating an HIV/AIDS pandemic, and extreme inequality. The resulting steady erosion of the livelihoods of the poor makes the poor extremely vulnerable to shocks from a variety of sources – climate, disasters, markets, etc. At the same time, insecurity and steady urban migration create new forms of poverty while rural communities remain excluded from the social and economic mainstream of southern Africa. Rural women are typically at the bottom of the poverty trap and urban youth facing massive joblessness are an extremely vulnerable group. The poverty trap in southern Africa is at once a problem of inadequate institutional capacity to deliver poverty-reducing services; attitudes, structures and processes of governance that are not adequately responsive and accountable; and ineffective policies. Inadequate fiscal resources to meet urgent development objectives and the region’s marginalised position in the global political economy further compound the grip of the poverty trap for southern Africa’s poor.

What is the criteria for submission of proposals?

Specific criteria will be provided for each call for proposals issued by the Southern Africa Trust. Please look out for these criteria under the “Calls for Proposals” section of this website. However, general criteria for applications submitted to the Southern Africa Trust are:
Relevance to regional-level priorities for poverty reduction.

  • The ‘regional’ content of the proposal, i.e. Does it promote multi-country linkages and comparative learning across different country-level experiences of national policies and/or does it address issues that are regional by nature (e.g. climate change, malaria control) where regional policy is required to complement national-level policies.
  • Ability to show a link to policy processes and/or to policy opportunities. This may be in relation to the development, monitoring and/or review of policy.
  • The extent to which the proposal driven by or linked to existing stakeholder organisation or action.
  • Contribution to building dialogue, networks, and/or alliances within interest groups or sectors in the region and/or to building dialogue, networks and/or alliances between different interest groups or sectors in the region.
  • Inclusion of ways to engage meaningfully with ‘voices of the poor’ or enhance the participation of poorly-represented constituencies in its processes.
  • Extent to which the organisation submitting the proposal has an existing regional-level presence, a mandate relevant to poverty reduction, and a policy-influencing agenda.
  • Alignment of the activities proposed with Southern Africa Trust’s goals.
  • Innovation.
  • Proposals need not cover all the sub-themes indicated in specific calls for proposals but may focus on a particular dimension. For example, a proposal may focus on food security under a general call for proposals addressing ‘health, hunger and vulnerability’.

When is the next call for proposals?

We intend to issue open calls for proposals twice annually. Specific dates for when calls for proposals will be issued cannot be provided. Look out for the next call for proposals on the “calls for proposals” page in the “grants” section of this website.

Can I submit a proposal even if I am not from the Southern African Region?

We will not consider proposals originating from countries outside Africa. The trust will normally support programmes operational in the southern Africa region. However, in exceptional cases and on a case-by-case basis, we will consider proposals from other parts of Africa outside the southern Africa region if they meet the criteria of calls for proposals

How long does it take for a response from Southern Africa Trust?

It will normally take about four months from the deadline for submission of concept notes to the disbursement of grants to approved proposals. However, this time frame depends on a number of factors and could be changed without notice. The Southern Africa Trust will keep you informed about the process once you have submitted a proposal.

Can we submit a proposal in between calls for proposals?

The submission of general proposals that do not respond to a specific call for proposals from the Southern Africa Trust is not encouraged. It is better to speak to a grants or other programme officer of the Southern Africa Trust about your proposal before submitting it.

Can the Southern Africa Trust assist us in finding other sources of funding?

So as to support your work, we may be able to refer you to other grant-making agencies depending on what programme you want to raise funds for, but we cannot recommend your proposal or guarantee that a grant will be approved by that agency.

Does the Southern Africa Trust have offices other than in South Africa?

No. We do not intend to open any other offices but will work in partnership with a variety of organisations across the region

May I link my site to the Southern Africa Trust website?

Yes, you may freely link to this website. We encourage and appreciate links from your website to this website. You are welcome to link to as long as you comply with our terms of use

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