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 Sukuma Sakhe

The origin of Masisukuma Sakhe, which is the motto on the crest of the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal, is taken from Prophet Nehemiah 2:18, where he yearns to rebuild a city that has been destroyed. “Operation Sukuma Sakhe” (stand up and build) then is a call for the people of KwaZulu-Natal to overcome the issues destroying communities such as poverty, unemployment, crime, substance abuse, HIV and tuberculosis.

“Operation Sukuma Sakhe has a ‘whole of government approach’ as its philosophical basis,” says KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Senzo Mchunu. “It spells out every initiative and how it links to initiatives being implemented by the different sector departments and the spheres of government — therefore, delivery of services is required through partnership with community, stakeholders and government.”

Mchunu says Sukuma Sakhe is a continuous interaction between government and the community to come together to achieve the 12 national outcomes. “We will encourage social mobilisation where communities have a role, as well as delivery of government services in a more integrated way.

“Government has structured programmes which need to get as deep as to the level of the people we are serving. This is at ward level, translating to all 11 districts and all households, in all 51 municipalities. Government humbly accepts that we cannot achieve this alone, but need communities’ hands in building this nation together.”

In February 2008 former President Mbeki announced the “War on Poverty” campaign in his State of the Nation Address. In KwaZulu-Natal, the campaign was launched in three presidential nodal areas. The provincial government later adopted it as part of the KZN Flagship Programme and in April 2011, re-launched the programme as Operation Sukuma Sakhe. The top five priorities of the provincial government embedded in the service delivery model of Sukuma are: rural development/agrarian reform and food security; creating decent work and economic growth; fighting crime; education; and health.  

According to the Sukuma Sakhe implementation model document, the desired outcome of the service delivery model is “the implementation of a comprehensive, efficient, effective, quality service delivery system that contributes to a self-reliant society in a sustainable manner”.

“For a society to be self-reliant it is important that its members are not passive recipients of services, but that they participate actively in local interventions which will have an impact on their lives,” the document reads. “Through community participation, individuals are able to connect with each other and they will be better placed to make decisions in terms of their individual and collective efforts  The Government of KZN has published a Citizens’ Charter that spells out what services will be provided, with an emphasis on service delivery improvements.”

How Operation Sukuma Sakhe works

Step One

• Community caregivers visit a set number of households where a key informant, usually the household head, provides information on individuals, household and community needs;

• The Household Profiling Tool is completed by the caregivers and the baseline is identified; and

• Youth ambassadors meet with the youth at households, schools, churches and clubs to jointly identify the needs and challenges of the youth.

Step Two

• Caregivers and youth ambassadors take the baseline information to the war-room each week;

• War-room members assess the needs and priorities are identified; and

• Youth ambassadors work with the youth to address their needs and challenges.

Step Three

• War-room discusses the needs and submits information to referral focal point person in each department for action;

• Weekly baseline data is consolidated and submitted to the local task team and to the relevant departments for action;

• Departments provide services via the war-room;

• Caregivers provide feedback to households;

• At ward level, solutions are discussed with government and other partners to embrace the youth;

• Programmes implemented; and

• Youth ambassadors provide feedback to the youth.

Sukuma Sakhe encourages the co-ordination of comprehensive services among government departments, state-owned enterprises and civil society, as it views the delivery of anti-poverty programmes as a collective responsibility. The strategy is to integrate services so that they collectively enable the communities to deal effectively with eradicating poverty. Integration is a systemic approach, which means that systems will be implemented to ensure that communities are assisted to access the required services. Sukuma services are divided into three priority levels; immediate, medium and long-term, defined as follows:

•  immediate (non-negotiable services which must be resolved within 90 days);

•  medium-term (which must be resolved within 91 to 180 days); and

• long-term (longer than 180 days).

Having an integrated approach means that all spheres of government (national, provincial and local) play a clearly defined role. It ensures that the different government departments work together in a cohesive manner and that an integrated planning tool is used. Co-ordination does not end merely with the provision of services from service providers. Communities are engaged to ensure that they contribute to their own development and that they are able to get out of the poverty trap when they exit the Sukuma system.

The overall strategic objective of Sukuma is to integrate, co-ordinate and facilitate transversal services to communities. To achieve this, the programme has six sub-objectives:

1. Create and maintain functional task teams at provincial, district, local, and ward levels to deliver integrated services to individuals, households and communities;

2. Create fully efficient and competent human capital structures across all levels of Sukuma Sakhe implementation;

3. Understand and identify pockets of poverty and social ills within wards;

4. Provide comprehensive, integrated, transversal services to communities;

5. Advocate for involvement from all stakeholders through marketing and communication; and

6. Monitor, evaluate, provide feedback and track service delivery.

The Sukuma Sakhe methodology is to gather information, develop a database of the identified needs and take the information in a stepped approach to the ward, local, district and provincial task teams. At ward level, after caregivers provide immediate interventions where appropriate, the needs are assessed and prioritised, then forwarded to the designated focal referral persons at the different departments for action, and escalated to a higher level where necessary. The most important part is to monitor the progress of the prioritised needs taken forward, with the designated focal referral persons to ascertain the progress made with the cases and to provide feedback to the communities at ward level.​