Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) has welcomed the United Kingdom (UK) government’s donation of R50 million to the Solidarity Fund.

“The grant is aimed at extending the Solidarity Fund’s ongoing efforts to counter the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa, focusing specifically on projects supporting and promoting women,” DTIC said on Tuesday.

This contribution forms part of the UK’s international COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, and signals its support for the Solidarity Fund as an independent, South African-run initiative.

“The sum earmarked for the Fund amounts to a £2.15 million (R50 million) donation, which will be used to bolster high priority initiatives currently supported by the Fund. To date, the UK has committed £6.5 million in support of South Africa’s response to the pandemic,” the department said.

The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Nomalungelo Gina, thanked the UK government for the donation.

“I am excited that the British Commission has made specifications that this donation must be directed to the fight against gender-based violence and that it must also be channelled to supporting women’s economic empowerment and small, medium and micro enterprises,” said Gina at the signing ceremony.

The department said the Solidarity Fund could make a meaningful contribution to approximately 360 existing local and community organisations, which provide critical services in the GBV eco-system.

“With this grant, funding for the second intervention in GBV support will now increase from R50 million to R75 million,” the DTIC said.

Gina said a portion of the donation will be paid to women involved in agricultural projects through a voucher system.

“Evidence shows that we have more women than men in the agricultural sector, both in small-scale and subsistence farming, in our rural areas. Women produce food for their households and sell some of these products as hawkers at taxi ranks and other public spaces.

“It is therefore logical that the empowerment of women in this important sector will boost their efforts,” Gina said.

Subsistence and household farmers have been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, compromising their ability to continue their ongoing farming activities or preparing for the next farming cycle.

“A farming input voucher for subsistence/household farmers has been deemed to be an appropriate short-term response to support these farmers. The total number of beneficiaries is estimated to be 47 000, across all nine provinces. The UK government’s donation will increase funding for the farming input voucher project to R100 million, targeted at 66% women subsistence/household farmers in rural areas,” the department said.

British High Commissioner to South Africa, Nigel Casey, said they were delighted to contribute to the Solidarity Fund, a new and innovative initiative that combines public, private and individual commitment in tackling the impacts of this global crisis.

“We are particularly pleased to support the Fund’s work to help women affected by persistently high rates of gender-based violence, and to promote women’s economic inclusion and empowerment along the long road to recovery,” Casey said.

Interim Chief Executive Officer of The Solidarity Fund, Nomkhita Nqweni, said such donations, and all the generous contributions from governments, business and individuals, enable the fund to keep the fight going, and provide much needed assistance to those who need it most. –