Original Research

Assessing the role of civil society in poverty alleviation: A case study of Amathole district in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa

Xolisile G. Ngumbela, Thozamile R. Mle
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 15, No 1 | a547 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v15i1.547 | © 2019 Xolisile G. Ngumbela, Thozamile R. Mle | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 February 2018 | Published: 30 September 2019

About the author(s)

Xolisile G. Ngumbela, Centre for Transdisciplinary Studies, University of Fort Hare, East London, South Africa
Thozamile R. Mle, Faculty of Management and Commerce, School of Public Management and Development, University of Fort Hare, Bisho, South Africa


The purpose of this study was to conduct an assessment of the role of civil society organisations (CSOs) in poverty alleviation, with a particular focus on three CSOs operating in the Amathole district of the Eastern Cape province. The CSOs were located in the local municipalities of Amahlathi (Ikhwezi Women Support Centre), Mbhashe (Nyhwarha Home-Based Care) and Mnquma (We Care HIV/AIDS Ministries). A combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods was used. Data were collected from 14 people either working for or associated with the CSOs using semi-structured interviews, structured interviews in which a questionnaire was administered and focus groups. Document analysis supplemented these data collection methods. The findings showed that different interventions by the CSOs played an important role in improving the well-being of community members but that the interventions did not necessarily focus directly on poverty alleviation. Where the CSOs made a direct contribution to poverty eradication, it was done by employing community members in their projects. The challenges that they experienced largely concerned funding and insufficiently skilled human resources. The CSOs were able to plan and monitor their performance, but the logical framework they used failed to prepare them for unexpected changes in their projects. Focused management support from the Department of Social Development will assist the CSOs to become sustainable.


Poverty; civil society organisations; poverty eradication; poverty alleviation; strategy.


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