Overview of ACAT Swaziland


Historic overview

Africa Cooperative Action Trust (ACAT) is a Christian rural community development agency working to empower disadvantaged rural people especially women and children to improve their quality of life wholistically.

ACAT was established in Swaziland in 1982, where the main focus was savings for farming inputs. However, in 2001, the concept of savings and credit was launched in ACAT in order to widen the savings scope.

From inception, ACAT’s approach to people development has always been based on the mobilization of people to form savings groups that meet on regular bases for purposes of weekly savings that are used to promote household food security and other Self Help activities. It is through such savings processes that the local authorities are involved to ensure and encourage their full participation in the development processes. ACAT uses participatory methods in her community development interventions. This is done in an effort to promote strong ownership by community beneficiaries for any intervention aimed at poverty reduction and increased impact of our work. With the growing HIV/AIDs incidence and high mortality rate in Swaziland, most traditional social safeguards are eroding, hence, mainstreaming of HIV/AIDS trainings and awareness creation in her programs to ensure people are given knowledge about this virus, is a must.

In August, 2011, ACAT Swaziland embarked on a strategic planning process for the next 5 years, from 2012 to 2017. This process involved all levels of the organization. This was done to ensure full ownership and commitment towards its implementation. This process identified five (5) strategic focus areas that the organization would be focusing on in the next 5 years. These, together with the new vision and mission, are highlighted below.

Vision Statement

To practically demonstrate God’s love for the transformation of disadvantaged rural people through appropriate and sustainable development programmes.

Mission statement

To empower, enable and equip disadvantaged rural people to improve and sustain their own quality of life spiritually, physically, materially, socially and environmentally.

Strategic Focus Areas

Until the year 2017 ACAT shall use an integrated approach to achieve the following strategic focus areas:

  1. Sustainable Agriculture and Enterprise Development: - this focus seeks to integrate household food security initiatives with income generation activities. ACAT would promote the use of locally available resources and environmentally friendly means, by households, in their food production efforts. Environmentally friendly, in this context, to include, proper car for the environment and mitigation of climate change.
  2. Capacity Building: the main trust of this focus is on training of clienteles so that they are equipped will technical skills that would help then become drivers of their development. The mode of training would vary from group to group depending on their needs in their given location. Further, such trainings would seek to build on the indigenous and local knowledge that might be available in the target community being trained.
  3. Growth and Sustainability: the focus is making sure that both ACAT and community activities are not only growing but are also sustained over time. It is ACAT’s desire to grow both financially and material in order to reduce her external support.
  4. Partnerships and Stakeholder Relations: to ensure continued support and learning from our own work and other organizations, ACAT would work to establish formal and informal partnerships with our own established community base organizations and other organizations doing similar work.
  5. Internal Business Processes and Human Resource Issues: the focus is mainly to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of the organization in doing its work. This is particularly important in the age information and technology. ACAT would work to ensure that she paces up with the latest technologies relevant to her work in development.

Governance

ACAT is governed by a constitution and Trust Deed signed and endorsed by all members of the ACAT Board of Trustees. All ACAT finances are audited by reputable and International Auditors, Price Water House Coopers (PWC). As much as possible donor funds are accounted for in accordance with each donor requirements. The ACAT Board of Trustees receives periodic narrative and financial reports as well as audited statements at year-end. This is done to enforce overall and strong financial administration of all financial resources entrusted to the organization.

Management

The daily management of all ACAT operations is managed by a management committee chaired by the National Director. ACAT Management meets monthly to track down progress made in the execution of all planned ACAT activities. Annual budgets are prepared by Management and approved by the Board. Budgets are closely monitored to ensure that all expenditures are within the approved annual budget. Major budget deviations and shifts are justified and authorized respectively by the Board.

Training Centre and facilities

ACAT also owns and runs a training centre well situated at Mbuluzi Farm, 17km from Mbabane Head Office. This facility is used for staff development as well as capacity building of ACAT clientele to ensure they are equipped with skills and knowledge to manage and sustain their development. Since 1982 when ACAT was established in Swaziland, this centre has been used to equip our staff members and Savings & credit groups with basic bookkeeping and Leadership skills to support their savings activities aimed at promoting a self help approach to sustainable development.

ACAT’s approach to community development

ACAT interventions are spread in different parts of the country, with a relatively high concentration in the Lubombo and Shiselweni regions. The reason for this distribution is due to the fact that these two regions are where the poorest people are found, compared to Manzini and Hhohho regions of Swaziland. ACAT uses the group approach as its main development strategy to foster unity, mutual learning and exchange of skills and indigenous knowledge for self improvement and poverty reduction. The rational for this approach being that it is cost effective in terms of administrative costs to implement and support sustainable community development. Further, the approach has over the years proved very effective when it comes to group lending because group members become responsible for exerting pressure on their fellow members to pay back loans issued to them. ACAT is known for the following concepts;

  1. Leading in promotion of Sustainable and Conservation Agriculture to promote household food security
  2. Promotion of Savings and Credit Cooperatives Societies
  3. Promotion of working together “Lilima concept”
  4. Promotion of Collective bargaining for farming inputs supply
  5. Promotion of bulk inputs purchasing by SACCO members
  6. Promotion of Income Generation activities for job creation

Target groups

Women, youth and vulnerable children are ACAT’s target groups. This is based on the premise that women and children are the most vulnerable section of the Swaziland population. In addition, with women, they are practically the ones who care and provide for the whole household; hence any intervention improving their capacity is well targeted to positively impact on the whole family.