The Southern Africa Trust has five programme areas and five strategies that contribute towards supporting deeper and wider civil society engagement in regional policy dialogue, to overcome poverty in southern Africa. Our five programme areas are:

Programme 1: Learning for Better Poverty Reduction Results

This programme area is aimed at strengthening participation of civil society in regional policy dialogue by improving knowledge base through evidence-based research information. It also creates and expands knowledge and learning to assist in the achievement of better poverty reduction results.

Programme 2: Understanding Civil Society Organisations and Building Capability to Do Pro-Poor Policy Work

This programme area aims to deepen knowledge of the nature, state, scope, linkages, operating context, and leadership changes in the civil society sector in southern Africa at a regional level. This supports the development of the sector and enables other role players to have a better understanding of the sector. The programme aims to strengthen the credibility and capability of civil society organisations, especially the regional civil society apex organisations, to engage more effectively in regional policy processes addressing regional integration, from a pro-poor perspective.

Programme 3: Constructing Regional Identity and Civic Participation Amongst Citizens

This programme area lays the foundation and creates conditions for making regional integration institutions more responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people of the region. The effectiveness of institutional mechanisms for regional integration depends largely on direct citizen representation and popular participation on all regional issues. People-centred regional integration requires that governments consult the public through parliaments, private sector, civil society, and other popular formations and platforms to get feedback on the regional agenda.

Programme 4: Creating New Opportunities for Voices of the Poor to Be Heard In Policy Dialogue

This programme area is aimed at establishing institutional platforms and mechanisms for multi-stakeholder participation in regional policy development and implementation, in order to insert the voices of the poor. The programme lays the foundation and creates conditions for making regional integration institutions more responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people of the region.

Programme 5: More and Better Financing to Civil Society Organisations in Southern Africa

This programme area includes grant-making practices, donor coherence, knowledge development about trends in philanthropic flows, perceptions of donors and civil society organizations, and the impact of changing donor and aid architecture on civil society organizations in the region. It aims to develop new knowledge about aid and funding flows to the sector, strengthen dialogue between civil society organizations and donors, and improve the volume and quality of financial resources to civil society organizations for regional policy work in southern Africa. This is the philanthropy programme of the Trust, aimed at cultivating new sources of support for the sector and development in the region.


Our strategies are:

  1. Capability building – This involves strategic leadership development, building new linkages and alliances, developing new knowledge and improving the environment within which civil society operates. It involves building individuals and institutions that are able to anticipate and manage change as well as institutions and individuals who are antifragile.
  2. Evidence-based advocacy – This involves generating research that is owned by and usable to civil society and non-state actors, policy makers and private sector practitioners.
  3. Policy dialogues – This involves creating space and platforms for convenings within the civil society sector and between civil society organizations and other role-players including the private sector as well as the public sector.
  4. Creating an enabling environment – This involves providing support to enable meaningful and effective engagement between civil society organizations and policy makers, among others.
  5. Grant-making – This involves providing financial resources and the related institutional and programme technical support to various civil society groups working in regional policy.