The Hlanganisa Institute for Development in South Africa, the National Shelter Movement of South Africa and the Heinrich Böll Foundation, have recently launched a report which proposes new costing framework for shelter facilities and programmes. This is a much needed initiative as while shelters provide absolutely critical services to abused women, the majority are not only chronically under-funded – especially when provided by non-profit organisations – but also highly variable, with subsidies provided by the Department of Social Development (DSD) differing across and within provinces. Current allocations to shelters are not informed by a costing framework. This results in services being driven by resources rather than best practice. With public discussions still firmly centered on the recently tabled 2018 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, the time is opportune to talk about future budget determinations.
The EU-supported “What is Rightfully Due? Costing the Operations of Domestic Violence Shelters” report considers existing policy commitments and standards applicable to shelters as well as costings previously done – one by the DSD and the other by auditing house KPMG – and overlays this with information with consolidated information from four provincial shelter studies (research by HBF, National Shelter Movement and Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre) which profile a total of 294 women and their use of shelters across the country. The latter information an important tool to understanding the complexity and varying needs of abused women and the services they require.
The report, while richly detailed, provides a clear framework and logic for a set of standard service offerings and core costs that can be derived for which the DSD ought to be responsible.