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Newsletter No 1: June 2001 - About SARPN... and Map, Omega and the Compact

1. Introducing SARPN
The Southern African Regional Poverty Network was established earlier this year by the Pretoria-based Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). As presently conceived the process has four major objectives. They are:

  • to strengthen emerging and existing links between policy actors, practitioners, applied researchers and civil society organisations concerned with poverty issues in the sub-continent;
  • to facilitate exchanges of information between these groups and between different sectors in the poverty field;
  • to promote discussion between these actors on pro-poor policy options, particularly within a regional setting; and
  • to work in partnership with already existing networks and institutions.
SARPN will try to meet these objectives by hosting regular seminars and round table events. Given its commitment to working in partnership with already existing regional focal points, SARPN will host events in different locations in the region.

But despite the barriers of geography, and associated travel costs for workshops, SARPN believes that theresults of its workshops can be distributed quickly and efficiently by electronic means to specialists in the countries that make up the SADC region. An active web site will also be available for the posting of papers and items of interest from related networks.

One such example can be referred to: SARPN has just hosted a conference in Pretoria on the theme of land and poverty issues in Southern Africa. The workshop was designed to facilitate the sharing of perspectives on land issues in several southern African countries and to generate debate about how pro-poor policy processes may be incorporated into land reform and land tenure policy options in the region. These insights will be incorporated into a post-conference document, which SARPN intends to distribute widely within southern Africa. The next SARPN newsletter will carry some points raised during the conference.

SARPN’s short life has already well illustrated the contemporary adage that “networks attract fellow networks”. Hopefully, research opportunities will also emerge from SARPN’s activities with the potential to link institutions in the region for joint research projects.

Funding has been committed by DFID(SA) to the HSRC for an interim period, expiring later this year. The secretariat is presently involved in a regional scoping exercise, meeting with key institutions, NGOs and policy researchers in various countries in the region. This exercise is being undertaken to inform a proposal for longer term funding and to gauge views on how such a process should be institutionalised and structured. This proposal will be submitted to donors for funding later this year.

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