Opening Address at Empowerment Workshop for CDWs
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all here today for these very important discussions, and, Deputy Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, please accept our warmest welcome at this workshop.
The Western Cape Community Development Workers (CDW) programme currently employs at least 160 CDWs, 14 supervisors and seven assistant directors in the regional management team in the field.
In terms of Central Coordination, the programme is managed by a director, two deputy directors and supported by five administrative officers and an assistant director in information management.
The programme follows an Annual Performance Plan which is centrally monitored and the strategic goals of directorate are primarily related to:
- Providing information sessions to communities.
- Providing assistance with case referrals to government services.
- Project support and assistance with projects in communities.
- Support to communities in terms of government initiatives.
- Partnerships where required with relevant government departments, NGOs and CBOs.
The programme has improved progressively since inception as the investment and improvement in the reporting methods and systems have increased, which has also enhanced and greatly improved compliance.
Communication with staff is ongoing and underpinned with regular monthly provincial and regional meetings. When programme information needs to be communicated to the communities, the relevant information is presented at regional meetings and this has also promoted and enhanced seamless government.
We are committed to our new initiative of "Better Together" and the success we are achieving with these programmes is largely due to all the relevant stakeholders working in unison and doing it "Better Together".
Training and hands-on support is provided in a manner that ensures that we have an evaluation system which is credible and accountable for the staff performance system we have in place.
The coordinated information session in communities serves as a platform for our communities to find and understand valuable information about government services and programmes and how to access it.
Excuse the pun, but our projects are starting to yield fruits relating to food security where community interventions have succeeded in assisting people out of dire poverty in some of the wards.
Funding of projects, however, remains a challenge as it is not within our mandate to provide funding for small scale community projects but this is where CDW's come into the frame and they are ideally placed to lobby funding departments or NGOs to support initiatives relating to co-operatives.
The most significant function of the CDW is still around vulnerability and therefore the support and administration they perform in assisting communities to access grants is still a major function in the day to day work of CDWs.
In this regard, the word "vulnerability" needs to be highlighted because at the end of the day our biggest challenge remains poverty alleviation and the role our CDW's currently play is fast becoming a very valuable player.
We have rural regions in our province where there are dire levels of poverty and many of our communities in these far-flung areas are often unaware of assistance they can qualify for and in many cases have no resources available to assist them in accessing the support.
We have in our province many examples where our CDWs working in closely with our Thusong centres and mobiles have achieved great success in assisting the poorest of the poor. This is an area where I believe we must and can achieve even more.
The integrated service delivery approach of the Western Cape province through the mobile Thusong programme is also a vital function of the CDWs. At ward levels, CDWs support municipalities in mobilisation and administration in community consultation sessions around the IDP and budget consultation process.
Disaster management support programmes of the province is another area where the CDW teams play a major role.
An outstanding example of this occurred in May 2011, when more than 1 500 shacks were burnt down in the Masiphumelele community in Fish Hoek. Victims of the fire lost almost everything of valuable including their identity documents.
Working around the clock to assist those community members, CDWs, by applying their skills in photography, produced new photographs for the purpose of new ID applications to the Department of Home Affairs and they were produced at no cost.
Another typical example, during the floods in Eden, CDWs assisted by developing the database of community members affected.
In closing I would like to again refer to our slogan of "Better Together" and in this regard I believe that the national and provincial government must now as a matter of urgency:
- Reach finality on who between DPSA and DCOG at a national level, will take sole responsibility for the CDW Programme.
- We also need to finalise the framework for the Community Development Workers Programme.
Thank you and may your deliberations today be very successful and fruitful.