info4africa’s defining strength is our ability to collate, maintain and quality assure data. Over the past year we have significantly expanded this service and are currently engaged in data collection projects for a variety of local, national and international agencies.
info4africa - formerly known as The Centre for HIV/AIDS Networking (HIVAN) and the HIV-911 Programme, has a long history of working in the field of HIV, AIDS and TB:
- We have built a country-wide database of over 12 000 support service providers
- Annually, we disseminate upwards of 20 000 directories capacitating service providers in all sectors, and
- We engage in a variety of face-to-face networking activities including forums, workshops and training.
Over the past decade there have been a lot of very positive changes in the health landscape of South Africa. People now live and work with HIV and for many, HIV has become a chronic disease. Likewise, living with immune deficiencies has created new vulnerabilities for people with non-communicable and communicable diseases; a need for socio-economic support; human rights and legal support and increased pressure for training, education and development programmes.
Our focus has expanded and matured with these changes such that our database, wider networking and capacity building activities now more broadly reflect service provision in health, wellbeing and development in South Africa.
With this broadening of focus we felt it was time to change our name to one that more fully conveys the scope of our products, activities and expertise.
During 2013, we expanded upon our countrywide health, wellbeing and socio-economic database, which now includes 13000 organisations. This project is funded by USAID/PEPFAR, via the Foundation for Professional Development's Compass Project and seeks to collect comprehensive information on organisations and highlight the excellent work of all involved in these realms. Series 6 of the Directories was completed in September 2013, and Series 7 production has begun, with data collection for 3 provinces already completed by the end of 2013. During 2013, we added a data collection update option to our mobile phone service. Users can alert us to updates by calling *130*448# from their mobile handset and selecting option 3.
We recently collaborated with The Scribe to conduct the second research evaluation study on use of the info4africa Directory Series. This research built on a previous quantitative study conducted by Professor Paulus Zulu. The current research project included qualitative questionnaires and focus group discussions. Our contract with The Scribe includes preparing a research article for publication in a journal.
During 2013, we also provided data collection and data cleaning services to the eThekwini Municipality Civil Society Database, SMME Database pilot project and the Opportunities Centre Pilot Database. All datasets were handed over to the Municipality during 2013. We hope that these projects will continue to expand, whilst providing useful information for citizens and the Municipality's programmes.
Increasingly, we are being contracted by other NGOs and Municipalities to undertake data collection and data cleaning activities. The eThekwini Municipality partnership continues to flourish with info4africa now producing 4 localised databases and training youth from various areas of the City in job readiness. In addition, we are working with BroadReach Healthcare and Operation Sukuma Sakhe to produce a specialized isiZulu-language directory of service providers for Community Care Givers working in Ugu and uThungulu District Municipalities, KwaZulu-Natal. This is a year-long contract. Other contracts include a short-term youth recruitment and candidate screening contract with Activate Change Drivers.
Our Networking and Capacity Building projects continued to grow in 2013, and our longstanding partnerships with the Medical Research Council (MRC), National Social Welfare Forum and Religions for Peace have flourished.
Some highlights from our forum calendar this year include:
- The July 2013 MRC/info4africa KZN Community Forum, entitled "Getting to Zero with HIV Prevention and Treatment Interventions - Is the glass half full or half empty? - Perspectives from Biomedical and Behavioural Researchers", which hosted a panel discussion including Prof Quarraisha Abdool Karim, Prof Hoosen Coovadia and Dr Heidi Van Rooyen.
- The May 2013 WCRP/info4africa Youth Forum, entitled "Reclaiming Peace in our Communities", which saw school pupils from the South Durban region creating unique, upcycled artworks under the guidance of Umcebo Design.
We continue to provide mentorship support for The Ubunye Co-Operative. Craft development is a growing focus of this tourism driven co-operative. Throughout 2013 Ubunye were aided in the development of crafts product and skills by Umcebo Design.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) aims to be a truly South African university that reflects the society in which it is situated – not only in terms of race, gender and class – but in terms of how it structures its values and priorities and how it responds to social needs. As an institution of higher learning, it is committed to academic excellence, innovation in research and critical engagement with society. With its vision to be the Premier University of African Scholarship, the University of KwaZulu-Natal draws inspiration from an African identity and takes seriously its responsibilities to the development of the African continent. The tagline of the University is “Inspiring Greatness”.
The College of Humanities, the largest of UKZN's four Colleges, is the home of critical thinking, social commentary and robust intellectual debate. It is aptly referred to as "The Soul of the University." It is committed to the University's vision of advancing African scholarship and actively contributes to the intellectual development of the region and the world through teaching and learning, research, development and community engagement. It represents a significant repository on the continent, playing a critical role in the enhancement and promotion of arts, culture, social sciences and education.
A complex and strategic College, the Humanities comprises six diverse, yet complimentary Schools which are located across three of UKZN's five campuses: Edgewood - situated in Pinetown; Howard College - situated in Durban; and Pietermaritzburg. The College boasts 27 vibrant research, teaching and learning units, many of which are internationally recognised. info4africa is a Centre within the School of Applied Human Sciences.