With such a large number of families living on or below the breadline, the need for intervention to ensure people receive basic necessities such as food and water has become increasingly important.
This is why, for the past three decades, the Joint Aid Management (JAM) non-profit organisation has made the fight against hunger and malnutrition in Africa its main commitment.
“I think JAM is probably the best kept secret in upliftment around the world,” said Gavin Varejes, the executive chairman of Richmark Holdings, one of the corporate sponsors of the NGO.
“I think that their programmes – not only their feeding schemes and how they’re trying to change the lives of people – their housing [and] their very basic needs of life skills, life orientation, health and hygiene and Aids awareness, those are the real things, the knowledge that JAM imparts to people that need it.”
A large segment of the organisation’s resources go to sustaining the feeding schemes it runs scattered throughout Limpopo, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape.
Through these feeding schemes, JAM had managed to reach more than 44 000 preschool children attending JAM-supported early childhood development programmes by the end of 2013. It asks members of the public for help in reaching more children in need of proper nourishment.
Though much of the organisation’s initial efforts have gone to its feeding schemes, it has also taken steps to help improve people’s standards of living on three other fronts.
Its agricultural development programme was established to equip people living in poverty with the means to produce food for themselves through subsistence farming. The organisation has provided more than 900 micro-farmers in Gauteng with the skills and equipment to run and sustain their own backyard and community gardens.
Similarly its water sanitation programme focuses on teaching people about the threat of water-borne pathogens and the illnesses they cause, as well as ways to avoid fatal infection. According to the World Bank, more than 1.5 million people died as a result of water-borne diseases in 2012 alone, highlighting the danger of such infections.
JAM has made it a point to emphasise water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) issues in the communities where it has provided sources of water through boreholes, wells and rain-harvesting systems.
Since JAM began its water sanitation programme, it has drilled more than 2 500 water wells across the country, according to its website.
It has also created an early childhood development programme (ECD) which it has brought to more than 1 000 ECD centres, day-cares and crèches around the country. This is an attempt to help children living in rural and informal settlements to develop to their fullest.
If you or anyone you know would like to get involved in the activities of the JAM organisation, you can have a look at its get involved page on its website for more details regarding how you can help.
You can chose between donating funds to the organisation to help it meet its operational costs, volunteering your time at one of the many sites where the organisation is active or by using your connections to help spread word of the JAM initiatives in action around the country.
PLAY YOUR PART
Are you playing your part in developing South Africa and its citizens? Do you know anybody who is going out of their way to participate in the development of South Africa and its people?
If so, submit your story or video to our website and let us know what you are doing to improve the country for all.