Community development workers (CDWs): a case study of the Bitou Local Municipality
Taylor, J D
MetadataShow full item record
Local government in South Africa is no longer simply an extension of the national and provincial spheres of government; it has become an independent sphere in its own right. Steady progress has been made in the delivery of services since the advent of a democratic and developmental state in 1994. The 1996 South African Constitution positions local government as an independent sphere of the government, interrelated to and interdependent with the national and provincial governments. To give it a collective voice, local government speaks from a position of strength through organised local government, as embodied in the South African Local Government Association (hereafter referred to as SALGA). The government is aware of the challenges facing local government service delivery, particularly in the rural areas, where progress in service delivery has been slow. During the former Presidential Izimbizo’s, the gap between the government’s delivery efforts and communities’ ability to benefit from that delivery was repeatedly highlighted. The introduction of community development workers (CDWs) is to assist the three spheres of government to ensure that service delivery reaches the intended recipients effectively and efficiently (IDASA, 2006: On-Line). It was against this background that community development workers (CDWs) were introduced as a link between the government and communities. CDWs are defined as participatory change agents who work in the community in which the live, and to whom they have to answer for their activities. They are required to help members of the community to improve their living standards and change circumstances. To do this, CDWs are expected to make the poor aware of their constitutional rights such as their right to basic service delivery including social grants and assist community members to understand how they can participate in the development plans for their communities. CDWs are expected to facilitate community participation in policy-making, implementation and in service delivery (Republic of South Africa. Grassroots Innovation, 2007). In this article, the role of community development workers in enhancing service delivery within the Bitou Local Municipality is discussed. The article concludes with recommendations based on an empirical survey to establish the extent to which CDWs play a role in improving service delivery and enhancing the accessibility of government services to communities.