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Sustainable Livelihoods

Programme Overview

The Sustainable Livelihoods Programme (SLP) was introduced to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF) in 2009. It’s main goal is to strengthen families economically to cope with their vulnerabilities and work their way out of poverty, so that children may live in good health, peace, security, and comfort. The SLP capacitates implementing partners (IPs) financially and technically to achieve its objectives on the ground. The central component that SLP utilises is the Self-Help Group (SHG) approach. SHGs are encouraged to hold regular meetings in which members can discuss their challenges, support each other, come up with solutions, and exchange their knowledge and skills. Groups are trained on how to initiative and operate viable income-generating activities (IGAs), such as blockmaking, agriculture, poultry, and sewing, just to name a few. Groups are also engaged in Savings Mobilisation Programmes to build their financial reserves. 

 While the central idea is that communities can do away with dependency syndrome, it also recognises that the challenges they face cannot always be solved by them alone. Therefore, SLP also assists with linkages to other sources of support, such as Local Economic Development (LED) units, clinics, businesses, and other influential stakeholders.


If the SHGs are successfully run for a period of 12 months, they are graduated into formally registered Cooperatives to gain further support from government. While its own entity, the SLP also functions as the golden thread between the three programmes of the Fund to ensure more holistic efforts to achieve its objectives. In summary, if the SLP services babies, children, youth, pregnant women, and parents/caregivers by providing support to establish and run SHGs focussed on economic and social empowerment monthly for one year, then SLP can achieve economic and social resilience that supports children’s healthy development and outcomes.

Sustainable Livelihoods

Programme History

A graphical summary timeline of SLP (2016-2021) is provided below. For further details on the history of the program, refer to the SLP Critical Reflection and Review Document (2022).


Grant Allocated: R399 600

– R5 million reached by 241 SHGs that were active in the SLP saving mobilisation programme, whose members contributed R1 495 per person in the group during this strategic period

– 3346 families and 11 488 children reached

Grant Allocated: R250 000

– 24 latrines built by SHGs in blockmaking business in Isibizane, Eshowe to deal with sanitary issues

– 415 families and 1 452 children reached

Grant Allocated: R600 000

– Produced the first SLP video on the programme’s impact in the targeted areas

– SLP Youth on video production visit Brazil to capture children’s cultural programmes

– 5 families and 5 youth beneficiaries

Grant Allocated: R400 000

– In strengthening our partnership with the local municipalities where we exist (iLembe and Umlalazi local municipalities in Kranskop and Eshowe) respectively managed to train 13 SHGs who are ready to be graduated into Cooperatives

– 943 families and 2 892 children reached

Grant Allocated: R327 694

– In the area of agriculture, SHGs continuously produced good results by harvesting products that are sold to the communities and local supermarkets. e.g., mushroom production project of the Masakhane SHG in Esibizani, Eshowe

– 532 families and 2 904 children reached

Grant Allocated: R1 610 000

– On the agriculture activities, SHGs in North West and the Free State have been receiving support from their provincial department of Agriculture through their extension officers. Groups have received implements, seeds, solar, and plants to work on their gardens

– Now have 50 households with backyard food gardens mainly in the Free State and KwaZulu Natal, and a small subsistence farm in Ga-Ramokoka in North West Province

– SHGs in the Free State were able to identify the needy families and provided them with vegetables from their gardens. They also mobilised the local hotel, Naledi Sun, to assist with groceries in a form of food parcels to assist these families

– As a way of building an exit plan, we have registered 32 cooperatives during this period that will run independently without a close supervision from our community Facilitators

Sustainable Livelihoods

Programme Focus

NMCF recognises that there are numerous challenges the country and its people are confronted with. The organisation has identified the following most pressing challenges that it would like to contribute towards addressing.


The SLP will focus on addressing the above challenges in the following ways:


  • Use Self-Help Group (SHG) to ensure that parents/ caregivers of children become members and are active in group’s activities, such as income-generating activities (IGAs), Savings Mobilisation Programs, and meetings that deal with the socio-economic issues affecting them (including advocacy) – just to name a few
  • This will ensure that there is adequate income at the household level to enable families to better care for their children

Child Mortality

  • Collaborate with Child Survival, Development, and Thriving (CSDT) programme
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding moms included in SHGs
  • Involved in IGAs and food garden programmes to promote good nutrition of mother and baby, and additional income to supplement food gardens and pay for other necessities (such as healthcare)

Youth Unemployment

  • Youth encouraged to establish own SHGs (including IGAS and savings mobilisation) for self-employment and accumulate savings to meet their immediate needs and build capital towards establishing their own businesses
  • Youth SHGs platforms where young people can discuss their socioeconomic and psychosocial challenges, as well as access support to deal with their situations

Violence against Children

  • Ensure that parents/ caregivers of children in schools become active members of the SHGs
  • SHG platform where any issues affecting children can be discussed and workable solutions to ensure children grow and live in a safer environment can be developed
  • Work with CSP to develop a consortium that has an SLP agenda
Sustainable Livelihoods

Key Strategies to adddress Poverty

The key strategies that SLP will employ to address poverty are:

Sustainable Livelihoods

Conceptual Framework

NMCF places children at the heart of their focus and recognises the fact that children are located within a family and a community which is fundamental to their health, safety, wellbeing, empowerment, and the provision and promotion of their holistic rights and responsibilities. Bronfenbrenner’s (1986) socio-ecological framework views child development as a complex system of interactions at multiple levels of the surrounding environment, from family, friends, schools, and communities, to broader-level values, economics, laws, and policies. Bronfenbrenner divided a person’s environment into different systems, including the micro-system, exo-system, and macro-system.

Child Safety and Protection

Implementing Partners

The identified partners will operate in the following priority districts. As illustrated in the map below, a total of 25 priority districts have been identified for the strategic period (2023-2027). A subset of 12 priority districts will be targeted in the first phase (2023) (green pins) and the remaining 13 priority districts will be targeted in the second phase (2025) (red pins). The priority districts specific to SLP for the first strategic period are shown in green text.