Southern Africa Trust prioritises needs of civil society during Covid-19 lockdown


The spread of the Coronavirus has seen infection numbers quadruple across the 16 SADC countries in a matter of days. Among these are the 88 million vulnerable people that are, by economic circumstance, at greater risk of suffering from the infection. The time to flatten the curve in the SADC region is now, and any delay in implementing precautionary measures will have negative ramifications across the globe.

Vulnerable communities urgently need fact-based guidelines, practical solutions, as well as linguistically and culturally contextualised information, in order to be aware of and protect themselves from the Covid-19 virus. While some governments in the SADC region (for example South Africa) have provided financial relief mechanisms for people living in their country, these mechanisms are sorely lacking in their response to the needs of these communities and the civil society organisations (CSOs) that provide them with crucial support and representation. This means that CSOs are at risk of not being able to fulfil their work, which will gravely affect the communities they support and represent.

At the heart of the responses and relief to Covid-19, is the question of whether those on the margins of the economic and political systems will be able to comply with the measures required to flatten the curve. Southern Africa Trust, based on its mandate, will work with CSOs to provide information and support rapidly to vulnerable groups, while simultaneously mobilising their voices to influence the response strategies that various governments are putting in place.

As an organisation, the Southern Africa Trust focuses its efforts on making an impact on the following groups of people: women in rural areas, ex-miners, informal and cross border traders, domestic workers, small scale farmers, migrant workers and refugees. It is through CSOs across the region that the needs for those affected by poverty can be heard and addressed. The Trust has 211 direct CSO partners that are supported through our programmes and initiatives, which provide them with the knowledge, skills and financial resources to reach a greater number of beneficiaries in their communities. Without CSOs, communities would be without support and representation.

Call to action

The Southern Africa Trust is calling on corporate organisations with a community responsibility in Southern African Countries to heed the needs of CSOs that serve these very communities, by giving financial and other resource contributions. Additionally, the Trust is calling on all members of the public to do the same by means of donations.

Why Southern Africa Trust?

The Trust has, over the past 14 years, built credibility and used its convening power and social capital to drive policy change to attain equality, social justice and accountability in the SADC region. The Covid-19 outbreak is a reflection of the deeply complex and interrelated global challenges that face the world. Similar to climate change and persistence of extreme poverty, the Coronavirus pandemic has cut across national borders and continents. The Trust is well poised to tackle inequality and represent the voiceless living in poverty.

With a track record of uniting the most vulnerable and key partners to influence policymakers, the Trust has successfully provided platforms for dialogue that bring community representatives and CSOs to engage with governments directly. As a trusted partner within the SADC region, the Trust has a unique opportunity to build on the intersectionality of issues.

The Trust is best placed to further amplify African voices to be agents of change in their own context. However, they are greatly concerned that there has been very little space for organised public dialogue to feed into the policy responses that the SADC and its member states are taking on Covid-19.

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