Southern Africa

RECLAIMING SUSTAINABILITY FOR POVERTY REDUCTION

Solidaridad’s 50th anniversary gave us the opportunity to reflect on our organization’s rich heritage – and the monumental task we must still accomplish. After five decades of effort, rural poverty and inequality in supply chains remain a fact of life. In response, our team helped craft a new continental vision for Africa, and convened a successful dialogue on environmental, social and economic sustainability. Implementation initiatives continued on the ground, albeit under complex circumstances.

Regional Commodity Programmes

  • Fruit & Vegetables

    Our Horticulture project in South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique provided smallholders with training in good agricultural practices and entrepreneurial skills, and addressed gender and generation gap issues. It also increased access to formal and informal markets. Food safety was a key issue here and capacity building was a major activity in 2019. Solidaridad Southern Africa was also involved in developing a national food safety standard for Mozambique.

  • Livestock

    Our Livestock programme is being implemented on Zambia’s Kafue Flats, home to 20% of the national herd. Interventions included agroforestry, livestock management and soil health components. Community leaders actively participate in the programme and enact by-laws. They have forbidden the burning of grass to help cattle survive the dry season. And they controlled an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease within two months. The best practices are being shared with other communities by programme beneficiaries.

  • Soy

    Soy production and farm gate prices in Malawi and Mozambique increased rapidly due to demand from manufacturers of soy products for human consumption and poultry feed millers. Our programme provided smallholders with training in good agricultural practices, access to high-quality seed, mechanization, and finance, and promotes the participation of women. Yields and livelihoods improved most dramatically in Mozambique, with over 17,000 farmers participating and yields up from 400 kg to 1,450 kg per hectare.

Developments

Rural populations impacted 

2019 will be remembered in Southern Africa as a challenging year. Drought impacted the entire region, especially Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Mozambique. It exposed the vulnerability of smallholders in both crop and livestock farming. Additional extreme climate events, political turmoil, and lacklustre regional economic growth combined to deliver a complex set of issues, affecting rural populations in particular. 

Weather events and political turmoil

Mozambique – a country with high agricultural potential, but some of the region’s poorest citizens – suffered two cyclones that devastated coastal provinces and crippled livelihoods. The situation was compounded by political turmoil as a result of a debt scandal and general election. Our teams partnered with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and other agencies to support affected farmers as they rebuild their lives.

The largest regional economy, South Africa, continued its slow but steady descent into economic chaos and social turmoil. Of particular significance to our work was the country’s debate about transforming (agricultural) land ownership and how to develop a broad base of commercial agricultural skills. 

Putting farmers first

One of the clearest responses to the challenges highlighted above has been to sharpen our focus on the central role of farmers in our work. Our mission is to support them to move away from poverty and achieve more resilient livelihoods. Promising work like our Soy programme has been strengthened with additional resources. 

In the livestock sector, our advocacy programme was replaced by a Practice for Change initiative which is more farmer-focused. Unfortunately, our work here was hampered by an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease and our targets were impacted by restrictions on livestock movements.

Achievements

Prioritizing digital solutions

Solidaridad Southern Africa's first objective was future-proofing smallholder farmers through digital solutions, in order to position them for the fourth industrial revolution. We digitally registered 33,000 farmers, conducted 585 soil tests, recruited 100 farmers to our Business Solutions App and 50 to our Farming Solutions App. Remote sensing was activated on a total of 26,600 hectares of land, farmed by 7,251 smallholders. 

We achieved almost triple our target of farmers receiving support from extension officers trained through our Practice for Change programmes: 55,070 against a target of 19,500. This was part of our effective implementation objective. We did even better bringing land under good agricultural practices: 95,311 hectares (including pastures) against a target of 30,000. 

Engaging with multiple stakeholders

We also managed to achieve part of our strategic objective by establishing collaborative sector platforms. We convened 11 out of 27 multi-stakeholder platforms, as well as contributing to the improvement of seven out of ten policies and mechanisms, in the region during the reporting period. 

Solidaridad Southern Africa continued to increase its branding and visibility in the region. We held two media breakfasts in Mozambique and South Africa to share what we do with the media and others. We also convened our first regional sustainability conference, which was attended by more than 100 stakeholders from Africa and beyond. Our innovation leads spoke at or participated in 34 events, contributing to our thought leadership objective. 

Supporting women and youth

We developed and integrated gender plans for all eight of our programmes as part of inclusivity. By the end of 2019, 125 out of a target of 150 women were supported to engage in the value-added processing of targeted commodities, mainly soy, fruit and vegetables, and livestock. We supported the establishment of 14 female-led service providers in soy seed multiplication, against a target of 20. 

Our programmes have worked with 40 young school leavers in various internship tasks such as registrations for our Open Data Kit. We hope to bring some of the top talent into the organization as full time employees. 

Scoping new partners

As part of our financial sustainability objective, two proposals for projects with USAID and the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development received positive reviews. Even more significant was the investment in building a business development system that can effectively manage the process of responding to opportunities.

Delivering effective landscape management 

We developed a sustainable landscape management programme for a district in Zambia. It aims to address challenges related to ineffective natural resource management practices including charcoal burning, land degradation, and poor agricultural practices, and lack of coordination amongst stakeholders.

As part of the programme, we helped set up a multi-stakeholder platform with four technical working groups: one each for natural resource management, fruit and vegetables, livestock, fisheries, and aquaculture, each with its own pilot. Local communities started taking charge of the natural resources in the pilot areas.

Annual expenditures in thousand euros

 

Personnel in full-time equivalents

 

PARTNERSHIPS

The Dutch government continues to be our main funder and is the partner in most of our interventions within the Practice for Change and the Advocacy for Change projects. 

Support for our programmes from the EU...

Our assessment across the region indicates that the European Union (EU) has become one of the most significant funders, commiting to multi-year programmes in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique. 

We aim to be part of the implementation of these programmes, especially where they focus on agricultural development in Southern Africa, and we are very pleased to have obtained major co-funding from the EU delegation in South Africa for our work in the country’s fruit and vegetable sector. 

...the UN and WWF

In Zambia, the UN Development Programme and World Wide Fund for Nature are now supporting our programmes in the fisheries sector and to improve livelihoods in areas under pressure from charcoal production.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development is another important donor, especially in the livestock sector, and we are awaiting a decision on a multi-country programme in partnership with it. 

While USAID and the UK’s Department for International Development are major funders in the region, our programmes have yet to attract funding from these potential partners.

Expanding our role in Mozambique

Our team partnered with Solidaridad Europe to help victims of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique. A campaign appealed to the general public in the Netherlands for donations to support rebuilding affected livelihoods.

Also in Mozambique, we were invited to join the multi-stakeholder platform for Cabo Delgado, the country’s northernmost province. It is looking to achieve a coordinated approach to development initiatives. Thanks to our participation in the platform, we fostered a relationship with the African Development Bank, which funds major infrastructure projects but also takes an interest in initiatives which improve livelihoods.

Partnering with government agencies

Government agencies across Southern Africa continued to play an important part in our ability to deliver programmes in the different countries: 

  • our partnership with the Water Resources Management Authority in Zambia delivered tangible results in developing water user associations
  • the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Gauteng Province in South Africa was been essential in supporting the development of vegetable production clusters
  • we helped develop the final version of MozBoPa, Mozambique's national good agriculture practice regulations, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture.

ORGANIZATION

Becoming an employer of choice

Our team grew in 2019: we hired 20 new staff members, bringing the total to 77. Of these, 40 are women.

We continued to strengthen our Human Resource management. Investment was needed to establish Solidaridad Southern Africa as an employer of choice and preferred partner in sustainable system change. This will help attract a pool of competent, engaged, accountable employees who are able to adapt and innovate. 

Investing in new tools 

Our HR management team implemented a set of tools, including a new manual, template for performance appraisal reviews, and a proposed employee engagement survey. These are designed to stimulate staff to:

  • cooperate and achieve the best results

  • make use of various talents, expertise and knowledge to make the difference

  • absorb the growth of the organisation.

We now also have a code of conduct, whistleblower procedure and grievance policy in place.  

COMMUNICATION AND CAMPAIGNING

Demonstrating thought leadership

As part of our thought leadership agenda, we put together an international sustainability perspectives conference in Johannesburg to celebrate Solidaridad’s 50th anniversary. It enabled us to profile the organization as a knowledgeable industry player, and highlighted environmental and social governance.

We largely achieved our aim of mainstreaming conversations about sustainability in digital solutions, agroecology, gender mainstreaming, holistic management, North-South relations, and the food-energy-water nexus. 

Growing our profile

We hosted two media breakfasts in Mozambique and South Africa. Here, 45 journalists learned more about the impact our work achieves on the ground. The three-hour sessions included presentations of our projects and how we are moving the dial within the smallholder sector. Each session ended with a Q&A session that allowed everyone to delve deeper into the points made.  

We made sure that our work remained visible to international audiences by posting a monthly article on solidaridadnetwork.org. Meanwhile, our social media served to display the organization’s daily impact by giving updates from the field and profiling the farmers we work with. This year, our followers increased from 143 to 430 on Twitter and from 177 to 403 on Facebook. 

Targeting our primary audience

Branding support was another key focus for the Communications team in 2019. This saw projects like our Livestock programme being branded in a way that appeals to our primary audience: regional stakeholders, partners and farmers. 

FINANCE

Solidaridad Southern Africa has entities in three countries: South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique. The entities prepare separate, not consolidated financial statements. The income was € 2.8 million, slightly higher than budgeted, and expenditures were € 0.4 million lower than budget, due to which the actual result was also € 0.4 million less negative and ended at € 154,000. 

Income was higher than budget due to budget support and new projects which had not been included in the budget. Expenditure was lower than budget due to delayed reporting from one of the partners on the EU Switch project and delayed activities on the project as well as lower expenditure on staff costs due to certain budgeted positions not being filled during the year.

Please find the official audited annual accounts from the three Southern Africa legal entities below: 

Mandla Nkomo

Managing Director, Solidaridad Southern Africa

1st Floor, 25 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, 2196 Johannesburg, South Africa