Fellow Since 1998
Oukasie Development Trust
This profile was prepared when Jacob Moatshe was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Jacob's insight is that you can build civil society layer by layer, starting in disadvantaged townships, but that this process need not be long, painful and fractious. The key is making sure you have the right issue and the best people. The solution for the township in any case is not a clinic or a school. The solution is to re-think the system in which services are delivered down to the local community level. Whatever else is done at the local community level, without this simultaneous re-thinking of the way the system should work very little progress will be made. If the system does not work it is plagued by vestiges of apartheid, cronyism, corruption, inadequate training and lack of adequate resources. To make sure that communities do not totally despair while Jacob seeks broad system changes he does two things: he mobilizes local resources, squeezing as much as he can out of volunteers; and he looks for partnerships with universities, outside donors, para-statals, local and provincial government and corporate support. At the same time he starts to work on the larger picture, putting in place a framework for clinics and hospital access, for example, that will serve not just the township but surrounding areas as well. When he encounters obstacles at that level, for example government unwillingness to fund those clinics once they are established, he moves up to the next level, using the connections with partners and additional community organizations to free up resources from the provincial level. Jacob's insights have allowed him to leverage an initial injection of resources to turn around a township of thirty thousand to allow him to push new solutions at the regional level in health, education and housing. While he has moved quickly he has chosen his partners carefully at all levels, with a particular eye to avoiding party politicians and people whose ethical fiber might be questionable, regardless of their title in the community.