Redefining Development: A New Role for Foundations

Jay Naidoo is Chairperson of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition. He was Founding General Secretary of COSATU and former Minister of Reconstruction and Development in the Mandela Cabinet. In this article for the Alliance magazine website he looks at development and the role foundations can play in redefining this.

Naidoo discusses what he sees as the fault lines in the modern system of development assistance development assistance i.e. “The rush to seek single-issue solutions to complex problems fails to recognize or respond to the overarching structural social and political factors that connect them.” Naidoo talks about how foundations can focus their efforts to have maximum impact. He argues that the greatest opportunity for foundations operating in highly polarized societies is to create a sense of viable opportunity for individuals and society, looking at innovation, social connectedness and positive identities. From migrant workers in South Africa to women engaged in agriculture, Naidoo looks at the areas in which foundations can address social justice issues and connect boardrooms with those they may be able to benefit.

“What is the role of foundations in highly unequal countries in the South? This is the question raised by several contributors to the special feature in the June issue of Alliance . It is certainly not to create parallel systems but rather to focus on the levers that will enable us to hold our political and economic leadership to account on public expenditure.

In South Africa today the biggest breakthrough in ensuring access to quality education and health has been the role of social justice organizations in mobilizing and using the Constitution and the courts to enforce our basic human rights. That is how victories are won day by day in relation to access to ARVs, the end of mud schools and the right to textbooks in our public schools….”

Click here to read more on the Alliance website.