A research brief for policy-makers and practitioners working with children in southern Africa
Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) are an important source for interventions that aim to support children living in difficult circumstances. By taking indigenous practices as a starting point, interventions can build on communal resources to sustain the wellbeing of children and adults alike. These are conclusions from two studies on social connectedness and indigenous approaches to care and support in southern Africa. Partners of the Synergos Institute South Africa commissioned the studies, with backing from the Samuel Family Foundation. One study, commissioned by the Foundation for Community Development (FDC), focussed on three districts in Mozambique.
The other, known as the Imbeleko study, was commissioned by the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (NMCF). Imbeleko field work took place in four provinces of South Africa (Gauteng, Limpopo, North West and the Eastern Cape) and three neighbouring countries (Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho).
Although the studies differed in scope, methodology and geographic location, they had a common rationale, starting assumptions and aims. Both studies recognised that models of care and support imported from outside of Africa have not always been effective and may undermine local responses that have endured over generations. At the outset, both assumed knowledge of heritage-true practices may contribute to locally-attuned interventions that make best use of scarce resources to provide a sustained pathway for social support.
About Our Work on Social Connectedness
Synergos’ Social Connectedness Program in Southern Africa aims to address social isolation in the context of poverty. It was established in partnership with and with support from the Samuel Family Foundation.
This work in Southern Africa is part of an emerging movement for social connectedness begun by Kim Samuel and led by the Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness, bringing together a growing, committed community of practice and networks of individuals and organizations around the world.