Two major issues dominate South African life today: HIV/AIDS and economic polarization. With about 5.3 million people infected with HIV-AIDS, and government delays in acknowledging the crisis, South Africa is facing a major problem in combating the pandemic that is reportedly claiming about 800 lives every day. The prevailing economic polarization is significant, with declining income in poor households and black households, and increasing unemployment, while income in white households is increasing.
LWF/DWS has been actively involved in South Africa since 1992 when, in the aftermath of the severe drought of 1991-1992, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (ELCSA) asked the LWF to assist rural communities in some of the worst affected parts of South Africa. In response, an emergency relief project was undertaken by the LWF/DWS Swaziland field office through the ELCSA structure.
When many of the most needy and vulnerable communities requested the ELCSA to provide a long-lasting solution to the problem of drought, the ELCSA invited DWS to help establish the ELCSA Development Service (ELCSA-DS). Since then, the ELCSA-DS has assisted disadvantaged communities and groups to better their lives using an integrated development approach. From January 2004, ELCSA-DS is an LWF/DWS associate program, carrying full responsibility for governance and management.
The program is involved in community development activities in parts of the provinces of Limpopo, Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu/Natal. The focus on community-oriented, participatory small-scale development activities includes: agriculture and environment; water and sanitation; self-help projects; HIV/AIDS; and awareness building and empowerment for gender issues and human rights. Funding shortages in 2003 have limited activities in many areas.
The HIV/AIDS project covers a broad spectrum of topics and audiences. It includes awareness raising at project sites, in communities and at schools, with an emphasis appropriate to the age level of students. Training is provided for volunteers in basic homecare, counseling and awareness raising skills, and people living with AIDS also receive training in counseling.
Workshops have been held for traditional leaders of different communities on the topic of harmful cultural practices that contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Workshops have also focused on the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.
For more information please contact:
Mr Duane Poppe, Program Officer
Mr Bheki Mathe, Acting Director