Thursday, August 13, 2009

Volunteer Development Officer Needed

Project HOPE has an immediate need for a volunteer development officer for our office in South Africa. Learn More Now

Monday, August 10, 2009

Project HOPE Assessing Needs in South Africa

Over the past few weeks, with the help of a couple of interns, Project HOPE has been very busy conducting rapid needs assessments in a number of slums in and around the West Rand area.

We put together a survey to ask some specific questions about access to health facilities, water, sanitation, food, education and economic status and then went with someone from the local government into the slum area to begin conducting the survey.

The first thing to do is to count the number of shacks – as these slums are “informal” there are no statistics on them, no one even knows exactly how many people live in them! So we walk up and down the rows of shacks counting them. This gives us an estimate of how many people are living there. With that number we can work out how many people we need to survey to get an accurate sample of the population. After that, it's going randomly throughout the slum interviewing people and getting the information that we need.

It has been very interesting because it provides the opportunity not only to get information, but strike up conversations with people and let them tell you what the problems are and what they feel the solutions are. We have been having municipal strikes recently which has meant that a couple of these slums have not received any water. The government uses a tractor to pull a tank of water a couple of times a week into these areas. No water means limited cooking, washing and having to walk a distance to buy little bits of water from a shop when desperate.

In all of these slums that I have visited, little food is grown, which means that people have to buy everything that they eat. With soaring food prices the amount and quality of food that people are buying is being reduced. I like to dig a bit deeper with questions about food asking where they get their food from, and what they eat each day. A few people I interviewed were very honest. Their response was, “We don’t have money to buy food, so we steal it from the local farmer.”

Walking around these areas you can see the intergenerational transmission of poverty very clearly. The mom who had a child at a young age is illiterate. Her child went to primary school but had to stop because she was “naughty” which means she got pregnant. Her child faces so many barriers to overcome and break free from this cycle.

Project HOPE is right now designing a specific program to address the needs of children under the age of 5 years to help break them from this cycle of poverty and help give them a brighter future where access to quality health care, education, basic services, employment opportunities and food will not be a dream, but a reality.