Field Support & Capacity Building

A Field Worker is allocated to each Local Development Office (LDA) who is the primary inter-face with Scat. The Field Worker is a development practitioner who provides guidance, monitors and evaluates progress and assists LDAs in their linking, brokering and advocacy roles. All Scat fieldworkers speak the language of the community they work with. The relationship between Scat and its LDA partners is based on an annual contractual agreement which is derived from the LDAs’ own internal evaluation, planning and budgeting.

Capacity Building

Capacity building and training is offered by Scat’s Field Workers and covers committee skills, fundraising, financial management, project management, community research, HIV and AIDS related issues and Local Economic Development (LED).

Capacity building refers to skills development and learning for the individuals involved in the management and operations of the Local Development Agencies (LDAs) as well as other rural community-based organisations (CBOs). Scat also facilitates opportunities for community members and volunteers. Typically, a number of workshops focus on financial management, fundraising and sustainability. One of the ongoing institutional challenges for CBOs is that as people develop skills, they tend to leave the organisation and move on to new positions. The result is a continuous need for skills development within the CBO.

The benefit has been that some people leave to use their skills in local and provincial government and thus potentially continue to add value to the community. Scat also runs HIV, AIDS and Local Economic Development (LED) related workshops based on needs identified by LDAs or by Scat. These have included counseling skills for the HIV and AIDS activators who are often faced with difficult and complex HIV counseling situations.

Other workshops give attention to self care and prevention of burn-out. In the LED context Scat has been running workshops with LDAs which are trying to facilitate small business development in their communities.

Institution building

Scat provides grants to small rural community-based organisations to cover their core costs, together with specific grants for capacity building and HIV and AIDS. Scat believes that rural community-based organisations need mentoring and support more intensively while they are in the early phases of their organisational development and in times of crisis. Scat provides this support and capacity building through dedicated fieldwork.

Scat refers to its rural partners as Local Development Agencies (LDAs) as it is our experience that effectively and accountably governed LDAs contribute to a broad range of development in their own and surrounding communities. Bathurst Advice Office is an example of the value of a strong organisation in a rural community. Based in the small township of Nolukhanyo (Eastern Cape), the LDA serves the community of Bathurst. It provides a paralegal service and generally responds to more than 400 cases in a year.

In its efforts to address issues of poverty it has initiated a number of partnerships with the Departments of Agriculture, Labour and Social Development, as a result of which they have so far secured R500,000 for agricultural activities and media training for the youth. The LDA also negotiates on behalf of the community for the best labour arrangements as well as with regard to Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) companies which are being formed.One such discussion they are taking forward is for the pineapple farm and factory for which the MEC for Agriculture has set aside R30 million.

The LDA has an HIV and AIDS program which has played a coordination role as well as facilitating relevant workshops in the community. It has lobbied for an improved sanitation system and for a voluntary counseling and HIV testing (VCT) site in the community. Despite its visible successes, the LDA's biggest challenge is to overcome the stigma attached to HIV positive people and to people living with AIDS. It is targeting youth, parents and grandparents in trying to address this.

Mobilising resources

Ensuring that Scat is a sustainable organisation is achieved through a diverse funding base and careful management of assets. Scat has intentionally and steadily broadened its funding base and so far, has more than tripled its donor base over the past few years. Scat also took a strategic decision that while we still raise funds from international donors, the local donor base must increase.

Scat in turn, encourages LDAs to source income from local and provincial government and seek other potential donors and economic development opportunities in order to achieve their own financial independence from Scat. In this spirit, Scat rewards local community fundraising efforts through the Fundraising Incentive Scheme. Through this scheme LDAs learn how their own community can become funders and about the opportunities and resources that exist within the community. Local fundraising reward payments to LDAs are now around R1 million per year.

Developing intellectual capital

Scat is a learning organisation. As such we use the action, reflection, learning cycle as a way of ensuring continuous learning and opportunities for learning. Scat encourages this model both in the LDAs we support and in all teams within Scat. In 2007 Scat engaged in a Learning, Evaluation, Research (LER) process with Vision Quest Africa as the facilitators. The purpose was to generate a true learning process within the organisation, culminating in a strategic process and the development of a five year strategic plan in 2008.

Through our website, the research and evaluations reports are shared with others in the development sector. Also in 2007, Scat coordinated a partnership meeting with all the Scat funded LDAs, our donors, and other networking partners. This extraordinary learning process resulted in a publication which has been widely shared with all LDAs, funders and others, and which also features on our website. In its commitment to foster the sharing of best practices and learning from others, Scat also regularly participates in networking partnerships such as the Community Grantmakers Cooperative, through which we share our own experience and learn from others in the community grant making and development sector.