Solidarity Fund ramps up farming, food assistance

31st July 2020 By: Marleny Arnoldi - Creamer Media Online Writer

South Africa’s national Solidarity Fund has ramped up its efforts to bring relief to those most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The fund has been focusing its efforts since its inception in March on humanitarian efforts, as well as medical supplies, but food relief and gender-based violence (GBV) has been shown to need more effort.

In conceptualising its support initiatives, the fund has partnered with relevant government departments and agencies, representatives of the United Nations in South Africa, as well as civil society.

The Solidarity Fund has earmarked R175-million for Phase 2 of its food relief programme. It is in the final stages of planning its food voucher roll-out to urban and rural beneficiaries and will be starting preparations to roll out the farming input vouchers to rural communities.

The fund will also disburse a R100-million support package through a once-off R700 food voucher to identified beneficiaries in about 135 000 identified households.

Since urban job losses will also have a significant effect on rural households which regularly receive remittances from family members, the fund has taken a bold decision to target 108 000 urban households and 27 000 rural households which do not fall within the country’s social security net.

The beneficiaries will include unemployed young people, expectant mothers, women, and foreign nationals who are not classified as asylum seekers or refugees in terms of South Africa’s Immigration Act.

Solidarity Fund will further grant R75-million through once-off R2 000 farming input vouchers to 35 000 beneficiaries who engage in subsistence or household farming in rural areas across the nine provinces.

The farming input vouchers are to assist subsistence-focused smallholder and household/micro farmers who have lost income from a combination of sources owing to Covid-19 restrictions. 

This has compromised their ability to fund their ongoing farming activities or to prepare for the next farming cycle. By supporting their ongoing ability to produce food, this programme will provide these households with direct access to food and prevent them from being pushed into a poverty trap.

In recognising the increase in incidents of GBV as one of the unintended consequences of the lockdown, in Phase 1 of its response, the Solidarity Fund disbursed R17-million to organisations that support victims of GBV. 

Based on a rigorous needs analysis aimed at ensuring the largest possible impact of its contribution, the fund has partnered with the Gender Based Violence Command Centre, the National Shelter Movement and the Thuthuzela Care Centres.

Phase 2 of the GBV support programme, which will amount to R50-million, is still being conceptualised. 

The fund has begun extensive consultation with a range of stakeholders from government and civil society.  These interventions are envisioned to have a catalytic impact on GBV far beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

Solidarity Fund humanitarian pillar head Wendy Tlou says that in the face of such immense need, the fund has focused its relief efforts on where it can make the biggest impact both immediately and beyond Covid-19.

“It is thanks to the generous support of the many donors to the Solidarity Fund that we are able to demonstrate unity in action and bring relief to many of the most vulnerable in our society who face economic hardship at this time.”

The Solidarity Fund had received R3-billion in pledges as of mid-July.