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Location: South Africa

Southern African Alliance for Youth Employment


The Southern African region (SADC) has a large youth population and low levels of decent employment for its youth, resulting in high levels of youth unemployment and underemployment. The lack of formal employment, irregularity of work and social protection means that youth in the SADC region face poverty and inequality.

Researchers have described the effect of this insecurity on youth as a ‘transitional limbo’. Without a secure income, young people are unable to meet their social roles that accompany adulthood. These challenges are compounded by a lack of credible information and a lack of mobilisation around youth employment. Youth voices in designing and implementing prevalent national and regional youth employment strategies and policies has been limited.


The Southern African Alliance for Youth Employment (SAAYE) was formally established in February 2016 by the Economic Justice Network with the Commonwealth Foundation’s support. The Alliance is made up of representatives from trade unions, church councils, student unions, and civil society organisations across nine Southern African nations. Trade unions, churches and the civil society organisations, cumulatively have considerable potential power to determine the shape of policy for youth employment in Southern Africa.

The Economic Justice Network (EJN) performs as the Secretariat of SAAYE. SAAYE aims to play a coordinating and facilitating role for youth formations to inform and influence public discourse about youth employment; contribute to reforming employment and youth related policy; and, to hold governments accountable to their commitments to address youth unemployment across the SADC region – both nationally and regionally.

The Commonwealth Foundation’s capacity development approach has facilitated training, engagement and development of structures within the Alliance. A six member Working Group serves as the highest decision-making body of SAAYE. They also represent the Alliance at events such as the SADC-CNGO Civil Society Forum and to plan regional actions.

Improving the environment and the livelihoods of waste pickers


The 2012 National Waste Information Baseline Report from the Department of Environmental Affairs in South Africa found that in 2011 approximately 108 million tonnes of waste was generated, 90% of which ended up in landfills. On these sites, and in inner-city streets, informal waste pickers are collecting and recycling what others have thrown away, a service for which they are not paid.


Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) will support waste pickers and their organisations in Johannesburg, Sasolburg, and Pretoria, South Africa, to effectively participate in decision-making in order to secure better working conditions and improved livelihoods. The research in many cities suggests that the formal inclusion of waste pickers in municipal waste management contributes to higher recycling rates, increased efficiency and cost effectiveness, as well as significant environmental benefits. Despite these contributions, waste pickers in the project locations struggle for formal recognition and inclusion in solid waste management plans, and for decent working conditions and fair compensation.

Through this project WIEGO will support the organising efforts of local waste picker organisations, to ensure the official inclusion of waste pickers in municipal waste management policies and systems, and to secure better working conditions and more secure livelihoods. This will be achieved through training, awareness-raising (both for waste pickers and decision makers), and facilitated negotiations and liaison with key officials and allies. Further, waste picker organisations will be strengthened within the context of vibrant regional, national, and international networks.

Endorsed project title: Improving the environment and livelihoods of waste pickers in South Africa

Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organising

WIEGO is a global action-research-policy network that seeks to improve the status of the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy, through increased organization and representation; improved statistics and research; more inclusive policy processes; and more equitable trade, labour, urban planning, and social protection policies. Alongside informal workers, WIEGO uses its credible, grounded knowledge of the informal economy to leverage supportive policies, services, and resources for the working

Strengthening the voice of older people


Forty percent of older people in South Africa live in poverty, resulting in poor health, increased likelihood of illness and disability, and difficulty in paying for basic needs like food and shelter. .


HelpAge International aims to make the National Development Plan more effective in addressing the key needs of older people, by promoting the inclusion of their concerns into the design and implementation of development activities. This will be achieved by developing a strong and cohesive voice for older people across the country, bringing together key civil society organisations (CSOs) to advocate more cohesively for their improved access to services and their delivery. Strengthened collaboration between these groups at provincial, district and national levels will ensure that older people’s issues brought to the national stage reflect grassroots concerns.

It is expected that by the end of the project, CSOs will be in a better position to coordinate their work and engage constructively with government representatives to influence decisions on older people’s issues at the local and national level.

HelpAge International

HelpAge helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives. They work with like-minded organisations in over 65 countries across all continents. They have an office in South Africa and have worked in the country for several years with local partners on a range of issues affecting older people. HelpAge will be responsible for the overall management of the project. It will be in charge of the capacity building component of the project and will provide technical assistance to the South Africa Older Persons’ Forum (SAOPF) on documenting and delivering advocacy messages.

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Partner organisations

The South Africa Older Persons’ Forum (SAOPF) was established in 2005 by the South Africa Human Rights Commission. Its mission is to identify and articulate the concerns and needs of older persons, as voiced by them, and, in consultation with government and other key players, to ensure that these needs are addressed in legislation, services and programmes.