While COVID-19 casts a new set of challenges for poverty in South Africa, two extraordinary women are showing the power that a grassroots foundation has in the fight against poverty. COVID-19 has had disastrous effects on poverty in South Africa, leaving many South Africans unemployed and unable to secure basic needs such as food and clean water. The Kwanisa Foundation aims to assist South Africans in need.

COVID-19 in South Africa

Surprisingly, in an analysis done by Global Food Security, food security issues caused by COVID-19 in South Africa are not related to supply, logistics or distribution. Food insecurity is due to a collapse in earnings.

A recent study conducted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), concluded that 34% of households are expected to fall out of middle-class status and into the vulnerability of poverty. The same study predicts that the South African economy will contract anywhere from 5-8% in 2020. Furthermore, the economy will likely recovery slowly through 2024.

The adverse health effects of COVID-19 and economic disruptions put South Africa’s food security in jeopardy. Shocks in the system due to COVID-19 have resulted in a complete stop of household income for many families, income that is vital for purchasing food.

Although the South African government has provided relief funds, it has not been enough to curb the effects of the pandemic. With the loss of income resulting in food insecurity, social protections and grassroots efforts are vital to providing short-term relief.

The Kwanisa Foundation

Providing much-needed short-term relief is exactly what Kopano Tsengiwe and Nwabisa Mpotulo, both from Johannesburg, set out to do by founding the Kwanisa Foundation. Starting in March 2020 when the nation went into lockdown, the Kwanisa Foundation has been providing food to families in need.

Delivering food packages around their community, consisting of dry and canned goods and even hygiene products such as toothpaste, the Kwanisa foundation has empowered those in the community to help in any way they can.

By developing these grassroots programs that draw in help from those who can give it, the Kwanisa Foundation has put an increased emphasis on outreach directed toward the youth of South Africa.

The goal is to build a network of individuals who can pool together resources and skills in order to develop and improve local communities.

The co-founders first met at the University of Pretoria and both worked at the nonprofit called Blue Palm. In an attempt to continue their philanthropic efforts, the two co-founded the Kwanisa Foundation whose mission is to empower disadvantaged youth to become advocates for change within and outside of their communities.

Other Initiatives

The Kwanisa Foundation’s efforts do not stop at food drives. Looking to empower the youth of South Africa and address unemployment, skills development workshops target students in underprivileged schools. These workshops include university readiness training and career counseling to help prepare the youth for their futures ahead.

Another youth-driven project is the Light in a Home Mission. This project looks to improve the living conditions and access to resources for the 2.3 million orphaned children currently living in South Africa. Orphans receive basic necessities and administrative help such as applications for grants and tertiary institutions.

Other community-driven projects championed by the Kwanisa Foundation include sanitary pads and toiletry drives, school shoes and stationary drives as well as blanket drives.

Instead of just hoping for change, Tsengiwe and Mpotulo are stepping up and creating change with a grassroots effort to help end poverty in South Africa.

 Andrew Eckas
Photo: Flickr