Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN) SARPN thematic photo
Regional themes > General Last update: 2020-06-05  

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1.1 In this newsletter


This newsletter focuses primarily on new developments affecting civil society within Southern Africa. SARPN commissioned three contributions, from institutions and persons with a long-standing interest in civil society dynamics, to stimulate some thinking on this key topic.

In the first article Bocongo, based in Gaborone, writes about the imminent establishment of formal linkages between SADC and a SADC-wide Council of NGOs. As Bocongo notes, one of the objectives of the CNGO will be to facilitate an enabling environment for NGOs across the region, with poverty policies being a key focus of the Council and its national affiliates. As the region moves almost inexorably towards deeper political and economic integration, so too will linkages between civil society organisations increasingly deepen. Arguably, linkages between regional civil society, even if restricted to some specific sectors, are more advanced than formal inter-governmental linkages. SADC has committed itself to increasing civil society access to its workings; this space needs to be grasped by civil society formations.

The second article, by Georgie Frohlich of DRNF/Netwise from Namibia, reflects upon some of the technical issues involved in information sharing and dissemination between NGOs across the region. This NGO has built up specific expertise and experience in environmental networking which should be of direct relevance to other NGO or regional sector networks.

These articles are supplemented by a contribution from Roy Clarke, a Lusaka-based analyst and consultant. It takes the form of a dialogue between imaginary actors, representing key players in the development field. Despite its satirical nature, it raises key issues which need to be confronted in the development arena in Southern Africa. The poverty analysis section closes with two articles reporting on a new regional network (for farmworkers) and a review of civil society in South Africa, drawn from a new research report.

SARPN will be pleased to carry any short responses to these articles in the next edition of its newsletter. Please send comments to as soon as possible.

Other sections of the newsletter carry a wide variety of reports on poverty reduction processes and initiatives. Researchers amongst our newsletter readership will no doubt be particularly interested in the recently published proceedings of a conference organised earlier this year by Ravi Kanbur on the long-standing “Quants vs Quals” debate in poverty research.

1.2 Forthcoming SARPN events

Readers might be interested in two very different SARPN forthcoming events.

The first, to be held in Pietermartizburg later this month, is a follow-up to our June conference on Land Reform and Regional Poverty in Southern Africa. The workshop will examine the relationship between HIV/AIDS and land reform, specifically focusing on the experience within KwaZulu-Natal. The workshop will be held in conjunction with HIVAN, based at the University of Natal, Durban, and the HIV/AIDS desk at the South African National Department of Land Affairs.

Given the centrality of the topic, especially within a rights-based approach to development and poverty reduction, SARPN will also be facilitating similar workshops in Zambia and, possibly Malawi. These will probably take place in January next year.

Further details on the Pietermaritzburg workshop can be obtained from:

SARPN will also shortly be hosting Ravi Kanbur, the world-renowned scholar from Cornell University. Earlier this year, we commissioned Professor Kanbur to write a short critique of what is now known as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). Professor Kanbur will be speaking at a SARPN event on 10 December in Pretoria, where he will present his views on NEPAD, particularly how it might flesh out its anti-poverty agenda. SARPN will be bringing a wide range of regional actors to the meeting. Full details will be announced shortly.

Readers who wish to read the final NEPAD document can access it on our www at:

Given the centrality of NEPAD to the poverty debate we would like to host a number of smaller discussions across the region, in partnership with existing actors. Options for these workshops will be discussed at the Kanbur meeting.

Finally, SARPN has commissioned a number of reports from diverse actors and analysts in Mozambique on various issues affecting land rights and land utilisation particularly focusing on the Mozambican Land Law which is regarded as a progressive framework for regulating investor/community developmental partnerships. These papers will be debated by a wider range of persons at a roundtable event in Maputo in January. Our partner in this process has been the Nucleo de Estudos da Terra E Desenvolvimento (NET) at the University of Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo. This initiative also follows from debates and comments raised at our June land conference. Details will be available from SARPN shortly on the planned event.

1.3 New additions to the SARPN www

SARPN's www continues to grow as we develop firmer linkages across the region. For some time now we have been posting material sent to us by organisations and networks central to the fight against poverty and who do not have a www at their own disposal; these include the CSPR in Zambia and the MEJN in Malawi.

Some specific new additions can be mentioned:

  • the draft Zambian and Malawian PRSPs
  • the NEPAD document
  • a commentary (by Andrew Whiteford) on poverty data sources available from selected Southern African countries
  • an analysis by the South African Institute of International Affairs on poverty policies within the SADC region
  • some sectoral analyses, notably water, migration, HIV/AIDS and trade and their impact on poverty. Some of these latter papers will be posted in the next few days.

These papers, and others, can be accessed at:

Persons who might have missed our earlier newsletters can access them at:

Finally our www will also shortly include extracts and summaries from published documents on poverty from some SADC states. Our objective in posting these extracts is to alert readers to the extent of material that is available; these documents are often not available on government wwws. By publishing these extracts we hope to spur the demand for, and utilisation of, such material by a wider group of persons and institutions across the SADC region. They will be posted under specific country headings (material gained from a recent visit to Zambia and Malawi will be posted in the next few days).


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