Final country report on Community-based Worker systems in South Africa


Improving service delivery is a key priority for the South African government to reduce poverty and enable growth. Khanya - African Institute for Community Driven Development (Khanya-aicdd) has been managing a four-country action-research project involving Kenya, Lesotho, South Africa and Uganda to see how community-based worker (CBW) systems can be used to widen access to services and empower communities in the process. The project focuses on promoting dispersed, active and locally accountable CBWs, in a range of sectors, addressing services which are widely needed and best delivered at community level.

The project collaborated with government and civil society organisations at national, provincial and municipal levels. The project reviewed the experiences of a range of organisations implementing service delivery using CBWs. Regional, national and four country workshops were held to share experiences, and five projects operating in Limpopo and the Free State piloted emerging models. Representatives from the four participating countries also went on a study tour to Peru.

CBWs are essentially volunteers, selected from the community in which they live, trained to render a specific task which may best be delivered at community level and supported and supervised by a facilitating agent (FA) which may be either a non-governmental organisation (NGO) or government entity. If people's livelihoods are to be improved, there is a need to strengthen micromacro linkages, both in terms of improving participatory governance and in terms of improving services, The CBW project aims to identify how services can be provided to all villages/communities in a cost-effective and sustainable way.

South Africa exhibits a variety of CBW approaches, each exhibiting its own unique characteristics, arrangements and objectives. Examples are development practitioners, forestry workers, volunteer social workers, home-based carers and urban rangers.

This report summarises the development and results of the CBW project, which has been running in South Africa over the past three years from 2004 to 2007. It aims to inform organisations in South Africa of the CBW context and to highlight key lessons learnt by the partners involved in the implementation of the project.


DFID, UK, xi+ 60 pp.

Final country report on Community-based Worker systems in South Africa

Published 1 January 2007