Social Investment R100,000 prize for NPO brings hope to rural Limpopo families

R100,000 prize for NPO brings hope to rural Limpopo families

A R100,000 cash prize for a non-profit water and rural development organisation will help it to expand desperately needed assistance to rural Limpopo families. 

The prize was part of the MTN Awards for Social Change, sponsored by the MTN Foundation, at the Trialogue Business in Society Virtual Conference held on October 13 and 14.

The Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD), which supports sustainable water resources and communities in the water catchment areas of north-eastern South Africa, received the prize because of its excellent monitoring and evaluation (M&E) methods.

The money will be used to support AWARD’s food parcel programme to vulnerable families in the Sekororo-Mametja area, on the northern banks of the Olifants River.

AWARD, which was established in 1998, won in the category of NPO with the best evidence of advanced M&E practice.

“We are obviously delighted,” AWARD executive director Dr Sharon Pollard says. “We have all worked so hard for nearly eight years to implement multiple projects whilst ensuring that we are able to track progress and learn along the way.

“Getting buy-in for a relatively innovative M&E system that we have called MERL (Monitoring, Evaluating, Reflecting and Learning) has not always been easy, but staff and partners now recognise the benefits of reflection and learning. 

“The recognition given through this award really builds confidence in the fact that we are on the right track.”

Pollard said AWARD had seen the effect of the national coronavirus lockdown in many areas where it provided assistance.  Most families no longer had income from tourism, construction, labour on farms or providing services in their villages.

Many people have run out of food and money completely and in some cases entire families were living off a child-care grant or an old-age pension. Others were turning to neighbours for help and many struggled to access water, Pollard said.

“Due to financial constraints, we have had to limit our support to the most vulnerable, such as child-headed households or those with no support whatsoever. 

“The award will enable us to extend our reach to other desperate families and to extend our programme for many more months.”

Trialogue director Cathy Duff said 143 NPOs had entered the competition in 2020 – more than double in 2019. Trialogue shortlisted 20 entries that three judges reviewed and scored.

The judges were Zulaikha Brey, an economist and M&E practitioner with Trialogue;  M&E specialist Asgar Bhikoo of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation; and development practitioner Kenneth Thlaka, executive director of SangoNet.

To support the AWARD feeding scheme project, visit