/ 16 April 2010

Building the future on innovation

Building The Future On Innovation

A war against poverty is not an ordinary war. It is dynamic, non-partisan and should be handled collectively through innovative partnerships that call for a commitment by all towards the eradication of poverty.

We believe a change in the way we do things could bring a revolution to the world we live in and that is what the Southern Africa Trust works for — systemic change to end poverty in the Southern African region. By raising ordinary voices in shaping public policies, we can fasttrack this revolution.

The influential Drivers of Change awards identify and share innovative ways to drive systemic change. Now in their fifth year, the awards highlight new approaches that have a direct impact on poverty and recognise policy work that makes a real difference to the material conditions of people living in poverty.

Nominations are accepted in four categories: government, business, civil society and individuals. Each year in October the awards are presented at a celebration in Johannesburg that attracts a wide range of leaders from all sectors of Southern African society.

In 2009 the calibre of nominations was particularly high, with the winners in all categories demonstrating a new kind of leadership characterised by innovation towards sustainable strategies for change that fundamentally transform the region’s development trajectory.

Across all the nominations, it was inspiring to see such passion and commitment to create positive change. In particular Dr Bingu wa Mutharika, president of the Republic of Malawi, the winner in the government category, is an inspiration to many.

He is building a new confidence in governments among the citizens of Africa. He has been instrumental in changing Malawi from a country in perpetual food-deficit to being entirely food-sufficient. He implemented a successful subsidy scheme to boost food production.

South Africa’s Archbishop Njongo Ndungane was the winner in the individual category last year, in recognition of his unwavering commitment to social justice activism and his service to Southern Africa, which is an inspiring example. He has worked for change in a practical way.

Archbishop Ndungane led poverty hearings in all of South Africa’s nine provinces and has taken the testimony of impoverished communities from throughout the country to the highest levels of influence in government. He has consistently advocated for an end to poverty, hunger, disease, genocide, war and corruption.

A sterling example of how broad-based partnerships can drive change at a local level is the partnerships between the Eastern Cape Red Meat Project and WBHO Construction. This partnership started the Umzimvubu Red Meat Project to support poor livestock owners to earn significant income from their cattle and was a winner in the business category.

Similarly, the Luanda Urban Poverty Programme (LUPP) built a new approach to policy and service delivery to overcome poverty in Angola. LUPP was named the 2009 Driver of Change in the civil society category for building fresh partnerships that bring together the government, communities and independent development organisations to work together in addressing poverty.

It benefits more than 400 000 of Luanda’s poorest men, women and children through building participatory governance and effective delivery of housing and basic services, such as water.

In 2010 we are on the lookout for Drivers of Change that are building the future through innovation, new partnerships and real change. We want to celebrate their success in working to overcome poverty in Southern Africa.

We challenge people in the region to acknowledge the immense reservoir of good examples, energy, commitment and real change happening in the drive to overcome poverty in Southern Africa.

Nominations are now open for the 2010 Drivers of Change awards.

If you know of an individual, civil society organisation, business formation or policymaker in government in any country of the Southern Africa region that is driving change and championing sustainable policy and practice for an end to poverty, we would like to hear from you.

The judges will, among other things, look for outstanding examples of different sectors working together, particularly government, business and civil society. In the business category the awards encourage working with others to do responsible business.

Neville Gabriel is executive director of the Southern Africa Trust

Nomination forms
Drivers of Change nomination forms are accessible in French, Portuguese or English at www.southernafricatrust.org or www.mg.co.za. Closing date for nominations is July 30 2010. Winners will be announced on October 28 2010 at a gala dinner in Johannesburg.