Impact SA

DBSA and Mamas Alliance in sustainable rural ECD solutions

Duncan Village in East London_edited

The Development Bank of Southern Africa partners with MAMAS Alliance and other role players to create nurturing environments and provide quality education for SA’s next generation.

As one of Africa’s leading development finance institutions, the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) has a 40-year track record of successfully supporting development in Southern Africa. Over R100 billion has been invested in projects to date, all of which have accelerated job creation, improved access to education and healthcare, and played a part in reducing poverty.

The projects financed by the DBSA contribute to the achievement of the goals of the National Development Plan (NDP) and Sustainable Development Goals. One of the priority outcomes of the NDP is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. As such, a primary focus for the DBSA is on Early Childhood Development (ECD) in rural and peri-urban areas, which constitutes their primary CSI initiatives.

The DBSA’s commitment to working with the private sector, governments and civil society is their cornerstone of achieving these goals and making a sustainable impact within communities. CSI agency MAMAS Alliance, a network of independent and autonomous grassroots childcare organisations, is one of the development partners which is helping DBSA to identify ECD centres that need infrastructure and developmental support particularly in rural communities.

“There is a ripple effect from funding infrastructure development of ECD centres in the country such as helping the centres to comply with the relevant legislation that enables them to access  subsidies from the government,” says German More, CSI Partnerships Manager at MAMAS Alliance. He adds that this DBSA partnership will help ECD centres within the MAMAS Alliance network to create conducive learning environments for children in rural communities and give them a better start in their educational journey.

“We recognise the profound impact of these early years on a child’s development and future prospects. We believe that investing in ECD is a key strategy for promoting inclusive and sustainable growth in South Africa,” says Botho Lobola from the DBSA. “We understand that the early years of a child’s life is crucial for their cognitive and social development. By creating nurturing environments and providing quality education during these formative years, children can reach their full potential,” she says.

According to the revised Thrive by Five Index, released in August 2022, there are approximately 1.2 million preschool children in South Africa. Of these, only 45-55% of children are receiving some level of ECD. Even among those receiving ECD, more than half are facing barriers to thriving, hindering their holistic development.

These statistics clearly highlight the significant disparities and gaps in ECD provision, underscoring the urgent need for targeted support.

One of the major challenges in ECD is the state of infrastructure. Insufficient funding has

resulted in inadequate learning facilities in many parts of the country especially rural communities. Basic amenities such as electricity, water and sanitation, libraries, and well-equipped classrooms are lacking. These challenges hinder the delivery of quality education and contribute to the perpetuation of inequality.

MAMAS Alliance is dedicated to proactive intervention in education, emphasising the importance of early support. Through their network of NGOs, they provide vital assistance to numerous children in rural communities, ensuring a smooth and enriching educational path. As a pivotal partner, MAMAS Alliance collaborates closely with the DBSA to identify key areas where infrastructure support and funding are most needed, thereby optimising the impact of DBSA’s resources.

Quality ECD is essential for all children, regardless of their background, as it helps level the playing field and provides equal opportunities for success. Investing in ECD is a cost-effective way to improve the lives of children and communities. It leads to better academic achievement, reduced crime rates, increased earnings, and reduced reliance on social welfare programmes. By investing in ECD, companies are contributing to a stronger and more prosperous future for all.

In the last year alone, the DBSA has made a significant investment of R24 million in more than 27 ECD facilities and programmes in rural areas across the country, fostering self-sufficiency, empowering communities and enabling thousands of young children to thrive in the MAMAS Alliance Network and other role players. To ensure the long-term sustainability of their interventions, the DBSA actively collaborates with NPOs and engages with local communities. “We understand that addressing challenges in ECDs goes beyond infrastructure development and extends to areas like eradicating pit latrines and establishing vegetable gardens. By involving organisations such as MAMAS Alliance as well as other NPOs and local stakeholders, we strive to create sustainable solutions,” says Lobola.

MAMAS Alliance provides CSI services at no cost via a network of 36 sustainable NGOs from 75 predominantly rural sites countrywide, with different focus areas informed by the needs of communities in which they are located, with a specific focus on supporting vulnerable children.

The Mamas within the communities offer a range of programmes and services for children, youth and communities, including education, skills development, income generating activities and programmes for those living with disabilities. For more information, go to


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