Social development


The Department of Social Development (DSD) has the following primary core functions:

  • Management and oversight over social security, encompassing social assistance and social insurance policies that aim to prevent and alleviate poverty in the event of life-cycle risks such as loss of income due to unemployment, disability, old age or death. 
  • Developmental social welfare services that provide support to reduce poverty, vulnerability and the impact of HIV and AIDS through sustainable development programmes in partnership with implementing agents such as statefunded institutions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community-based organisations and faith-based organisations.

More than half of all households in South Africa benefit from government’s social assistance programme.

Role players

Ministry of Women

The Ministry of Women is situated in The Presidency. Its mandate is to lead, coordinate and oversee the transformation agenda on women’s socio-economic empowerment, rights and equality.

National Development Agency (NDA)

The NDA focuses on strengthening the institutional capacity of civil society. The agency also promotes consultation and dialogue between civil society and the State, debates policy development and conducts research.

Capacity-building interventions ensure that recipients of grant funding are not only given money to start and run their projects, but that they are empowered with the necessary skills to ensure sustainability.

The NDA’s Programme Management Unit provides project management services to private and public-sector stakeholders who wish to fund poverty-eradication projects. Particular emphasis is placed on those in the NDA’s primary areas of focus, namely food security, early childhood development (ECD), enterprise development and income generation programmes.

National Youth Development Agency (NYDA)

The main role of the NYDA is to initiate, implement, facilitate and  monitor   youth   development   interventions   aimed at reducing youth unemployment and promoting social cohesion.

South Africa, like most countries, is grappling with the challenge of youth unemployment. Youth unemployment in South Africa is estimated to be 36,1%, which is signifcantly higher than adult unemployment at 15,6%.

The Youth Employment Accord (2013) and the Skills Accord (2011) – signed by business, government, labour, civil society and NGOs – aim to improve the equipping and placement of young people in jobs, and generally make the economy sensitive to the employment needs of young people.

Government strives to provide an opportunity to raise the share of youth-owned businesses and to support youth to engage in cooperatives in the country.

South African Social Security Agency (SASSA)

SASSA’s core business is to administer, finance and pay social security transfers. Amongst other things, it is required to:

  • pay the right grant to the right person at the right time and place.

SASSA ensures the provision of comprehensive social security services against vulnerability and poverty within the constitutional and legislative framework.

The agency was expected to conduct extended benefciary education campaigns to inform benefciaries of their rights, and to protect them from unwarranted and unsolicited service providers marketing goods and products.

It was also expected to introduce  measures  to  deal with disputes arising from deductions and electronic funds transfer debits from social grants.

Programmes and projects

Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme

In December  2015, Cabinet approved the National Integrated ECD Policy, developed in consultation with a range of stakeholders.

The main objectives of the policy are to ensure that comprehensive and quality ECD services are in close proximity and equitably accessible to all children and their caregivers. It also enables parents to lead and participate in the development of their young children through the use of these services.

At the end of 2014/15, about 1,4 million children were accessing ECD services, of which just over half were receiving a subsidy. Government aims tos provide all poor children accessing ECD services in registered centres with an ECD subsidy. A total R663 million has been allocated to increase the number of poor children receiving a subsidy by about 104 000 by 2018/19.

Project Mikondzo

Project Mikondzo (which means “footprint” in Xitsonga) is a nationwide service-delivery initiative to assess the footprint and impact of the social development system.

Through direct interactions with municipalities and com- munity members, Project Mikondzo aims to monitor service delivery at community level, determine the gap between policy formulation and implementation, and understand service-delivery challenges and backlogs.

The project provides a platform for profling households and communities, and developing community and house- hold intervention plans. The intention is to profle 300 000 households and develop 2 400 community plans in 1 256 municipal wards between 2016/17 and 2018/19.

Tackling substance abuse

Substance abuse is a key social challenge in many South African communities, and the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act of 2008 prescribes that each province must have at least one public treatment centre.

By the end of 2015, there were seven operational in- patient treatment centres in four provinces. The construction of additional substance abuse in-patient treatment centres in Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, North West and Free State was expected to be completed by the end of 2016/17.

Gender-Based Violence Command Centre (GBVCC)

The GBVCC is a 24-hour call centre that was launched in March 2014 to provide immediate, consistent, coordinated and timely support and counselling to victims of GBV. The GBVCC is linked to the services of the police, emergency medical services and the Department of Health.

Among other awards, the GBVCC was named the Best Technology Innovation – Small Centre of the World at the Global Best Contact Centre Awards in Las Vegas, USA, on 5 November 2015. As the Gold Medal winner, this means the GBVCC is ranked number one in the world in its category.

The toll-free number to call to speak to a social worker for assistance and counselling is 0800 428 428 (0800 GBV GBV). Callers can also request a social worker from the Command Centre to contact them by dialling *120*7867# (free) from any cellphone.

The GBVCC has attended to a variety emergency situations including indecent assault, physical violence, rape, abandoned children and verbal abuse. It has also attended to cases such as stalking, emotional abuse, sexual harassment, forced marriages, forced prostitution, elderly citizen abuse, bullying and family disputes.

The GBVCC uses technology to geographically locate a caller from a mobile phone in order to determine the resources nearest to the caller such as a social worker, a police station, a hospital or safe house.

Social security

Government is committed to eradicating inequality and pov- erty by providing social grants to vulnerable citizens.

According to the results of the General Household Survey released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) in June 2016, the percentage of individuals that benefted from social grants increased from 12,7% in 2003 to 30,1% in 2015. The percentage of households that received at least one grant increased from 29,9% to 45,5% in 2015 over the same period. By 2018, it is expected that nearly 17,5 million South Africans would receive some form of social grant.

South Africa’s social assistance system is one of the largest in Africa and is government’s most direct means of combating poverty.

The Child-Support and Old-Age grants are the two largest social grant programmes, constituting about 75% of total grant spending. Others are the War Veterans, Disability, Grant-in-Aid, Foster Child and Care Dependency grants.

Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP)

The EPWP is a nationwide programme under the auspices of government and state-owned enterprises.

The programme provides an important avenue for labour absorption and income transfers to poor households in the short to medium term. It is also a deliberate attempt by public sector bodies to use expenditure on goods and services to create job opportunities for the unemployed.

EPWP projects employ workers on a temporary or ongoing basis either by government, contractors or non-governmental organisations under the Ministerial Conditions of Employment for the EPWP or learnership employment conditions.

Social security and assistance

South Africa’s social assistance system is one of the largest in Africa and is government’s most direct means of combatting poverty. Spending on the social grants system accounts for 3% of the gross domestic product and is projected to rise from R118 billion in 2013/14 to R145 billion by 2016.

The Child-Support and Old-Age grants are the two largest social grant programmes, constituting about 75% of total grant spending. Others are the War Veterans, Disability, Grant-in-Aid, Foster Child and Care Dependency grants.

Food for All Programme

An estimated 14 million South Africans go hungry every day. FoodBank South Africa collects edible surplus food from manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, and redistributes this food to hundreds of verifed NPOs that collectively feed thousands of hungry people daily. The vision is 'a South Africa without hunger’.

Food Bank South Africa relies on the generosity of corpo- rates and individuals to implement this cost-effective solu- tion to feed hungry people.

HIV and AIDS support

The National Strategic Plan on HIV, AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Tuberculosis (TB) 2012 – 2016, which addresses the social drivers and social impact of HIV and AIDS, is a key component of the department’s fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS.

The DSD developed a new National Action Plan for orphans, vulnerable children and youth affected by HIV and AIDS (2012 – 2016), which is aligned with the NSP on HIV, STIs and TB (2012 – 2016).

The action plan calls for meaningful involvement and participation by all stakeholders in the national response to orphans, vulnerable children and youths affected by HIV and AIDS.

People with disabilities

In December 2015, government released the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (WPRPD) for pub- lic comment.

The White Paper is a call to action for government, civil society and the private sector to work together to ensure the socio-economic inclusion of persons with disabilities. Government seeks to create a caring and inclusive society that protects and develops the human potential of its children, a society for all where persons with disabilities enjoy the same rights as their fellow citizens, and where all citizens and institutions share equal responsibility for building such a society.

The WPRPD is intended to accelerate transformation and redress regarding full inclusion, integration and equality for persons with disabilities.

South Africa has been celebrating the International Day for Persons with Disabilities annually since 1997.

Children and youth

The Home Community-Based Care (HCBC) programme is the centrepiece of government’s interventions to build a protective and caring environment for vulnerable children. Most services to orphans and vulnerable children are rendered through the HCBC programme and include early identification of vulnerable children and their families, referrals, training of community caregivers and psychosocial support and material assistance, to name a few.

This approach is geared towards keeping children within their families and communities.

It is aimed at providing comprehensive care and support which is complemented by proactive action at community level. This includes linking families with poverty alleviation projects and other services in the community, such as food security initiatives and ECD services.

National Youth Policy (NYP)

The NYP for 2015 – 2020 (NYP 2020) focuses on redressing the wrongs of the past and addressing the specifc challenges and immediate needs of the country’s youth.

The NYP 2020 builds on South Africa’s frst NYP, which covered the period 2009 – 2014.

The policy seeks to create an environment that enables the young people of South Africa to reach their potential. It outlines interventions to enable the optimal development of young people, both as individuals and as members of South African society, enhancing their capabilities to transform the economy and the country.

This will be achieved by addressing their needs; promoting positive outcomes, opportunities, choices and relationships; and providing the support necessary to develop all young people, particularly those outside the social, political and economic mainstream. The NYP 2020 emphasises the need for various youth development efforts and interventions that holistically respond to all aspects or spheres of young people’s lives.

Blind SA

Blind SA is an organisation for the blind and is governed by the blind. Situated in Johannesburg, it is aligned with other member organisations throughout South Africa. The organisation provides, among other things, study bursaries for visually impaired students for further education, Braille publications in all of South Africa’s official languages, Braille training that entails writing and reading, and orientation and mobility training.

South African Braille Authority

The South African Braille Authority was established in May 2012 as a non-governmental organisation. Its purpose is to set and maintain standards for Braille in all 11 official languages of South Africa.

South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB)

The SANCB is the coordinating body for over 100 member organisations throughout South Africa. These organisations span the full spectrum of services offered for and to blind and partially sighted persons.

Support for the deaf

South Africa’s national organisation for the deaf is the the Deaf Federation of South Africa (DeafSA), formerly the South African National Council for the Deaf, which was established in 1929. DeafSA has nine provincial chapters throughout South Africa. An estimated 500 000 to 600 000 South Africans use South African Sign Language.

Other private organisations include the National Institute for the Deaf and the South African National Deaf Association.

Older people

The DSD promotes a holistic approach to active ageing and well-being among the country’s senior citizens. A number of initiatives have been rolled out by the departments of social development, health, tourism, sport and recreation South Africa and other stakeholders to promote general health among older persons, especially through sports to promote general well-being.

The government has since 2008 implemented a national active ageing programme in line with the Madrid Interna- tional Plan of Action on Ageing  of 2002.

The Madrid Plan of Action offers a bold new agenda for handling the issue of ageing in the 21st century. It focuses on three priority areas: older persons  and  development, advancing health and well-being into old age and ensuring enabling and supportive environments.

The Older Persons Act of 2006 aims to enhance the quality of life and improve the health of older persons by engaging them in programmes that promote social, physical, mental and emotional well-being to prevent or delay the onset of ageing challenges and keep old age related illness at bay.

The Older Persons’ Parliament takes place annually in October. It gives elders the opportunity to engage with the executive on critical issues affecting their lives.

Source: Pocket Guide to South Africa 2015/16

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