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South African mother and child

Christian Aid in South Africa

Christian Aid no longer has a country programme in South Africa but we provide solidarity and support through ACT Ubumbano, a regional network with ACT Alliance members and partners in South Africa, Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries. This network supports communities to identify and connect overlapping issues of economic, gender and environmental justice.

ACT Ubumbano

At the centre of our new model is the solidarity hub, which aims to connect people across Southern Africa through leadership, with solid research, and national and regional advocacy with close links with marginalised communities. It aims to explore new ways of supporting struggles for justice, and the solidarity actions that emerge from them.

The network connects partners and communities around economic, gender and climate justice. Among the emerging actions include the Ubumbano Community Voice app and website  which really has come to the fore in the coronavirus crisis

The ACT Ubumbano Gender Justice work enables dialogue between gender-based violence survivors, governments and faith leaders in Southern Africa. 

Key achievements

Christian Aid worked in South Africa for many years to bring about important changes to lives of the most poor and disenfranchised. Many of our former partners are now active Act Umbumbano participants.

Campaigning for change – national level advocacy

The advocacy of our partner Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII)'s was key to the country's first-ever national minimum wage legislation in 2018. SPII was the community constituency chief negotiator, and through strategic discussions with the government, business and organised labour achieved a higher rate than initially tabled. Currently, SPII are calling for this to become a decent living wage

The Economic Justice Network (EJN), played a central role in supporting the South African government to set up an inter-governmental body on tax, which will help to combat illicit financial flows out of Africa.

Mining – monitoring corporate and government behaviour 

The BenchMarks Foundation (BMF) is mandated by the churches to monitor multinational corporations in South Africa and the region to ensure they respect human rights and the environment. They ensure that affected communities are heard, protected and considered by big companies. The Soweto Health and Mining study 'Waiting to Inhale' on the impacts of mining on communities, gained widespread media coverage, leading both companies and the government to take positive action.

BMF has made important recent advances in pressuring mining companies to make their secretive environmental impact assessments, social and labour plans more widely available to the public. 

BMF and EJN are central partners in growing the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) – a space for communities to seek dialogue with the mining sector. It now has over 500 participants and provides an alternative platform to the corporate mining indaba. This gives mining-affected communities a voice, and the mining sector now directly responds to themes raised at the AMI.  

EJN formally represents civil society and faith voices in spaces like Civil BRICS, SADC and the G20, and together with other partners they are working on integrating tax justice with the advocacy work around extractives and mining to counteract illicit financial flows and corporate tax evasion.

We were about to lose hope about our land, our minerals and basic rights. Now we hope that we can work together as communities and come up with a plan to confront this.

- Khutso Phala, BenchMarks Foundation community monitor from Limpopo province.

Christian Aid partner BenchMarks Foundation (BMF) is monitoring the impact of mining on communities, ensuring they are heard, protected and considered within the business plans of big companies.


As a fitting closure to our HIV programme, former Christian Aid partners AIDS Consortium and KwaZulu Natal Christian Council worked to prevent stigma through additions they made to the  2017-22 National Strategic Plan (NSP) on HIV/AIDS launched by the National AIDS Council (SANAC) in 2017.  

The right to a dignified life

Church Land Programme (CLP) supports the ever growing Abahlali baseMjondolo (shack dweller) movement, in their struggle for land, rights and dignity. Together they have secured increased access to electricity, water and health facilities and recognition of their housing and land rights.

As a result of advocacy, 20 churches in KwaZulu Natal, which were destroyed by apartheid displacement have been compensated with community land. This led to the completion of several church buildings, allowing worshippers to return to a formal church.

A grandmother with a child outside their shelter in South Africa

A grandmother stands with a child outside their home in South Africa. - Irish Methodist World Development & Relief/Simon Hutchinson

South African learning review

Our exit review captures key insights and learning from the South Africa programme.

The South Africa Review aims to learn from over 60 years of working in South Africa. It focuses largely on the nature of the partnerships developed, and the mutual learning and exchange that was possible, examining the types of organisation Christian Aid partnered with, and also how those partners influenced Christian Aid’s thinking and its work.


Download the report

Contact us

Christian Aid South Africa was central in forming ACT Ubumbano, a joint network with other ACT agencies and southern partners, now connected via Christian Aid Zimbabwe.

We also draw on the expertise of our colleagues, Christian Aid teams, and networks across Africa, the UK and the world.

You can contact Act Ubumbano directly via 

Read more

Reports and resources

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With Aprodev, we supported organisations from India, South Africa, Bolivia and Peru to develop responses to World Bank energy strategy review.

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The latest news, photos and programme updates from around the world. Sharing resources and knowledge with development and humanitarian practitioners.
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