Focus Area

Safety and Protection

Innovation Lever

Existing Product, Platform or Service


Proof of Concept



Founded in 1992, Ikamva Labantu (Ikamva), meaning “Future of The People” works throughout Cape Town’s township communities with a focus on early childhood development (ECD), the wellbeing of older persons and after school initiatives that keep children safe and off the streets.

The Problem

On the 18th of March, all ECD operators (registered and unregistered) were instructed by the Department of Social Development (DSD) to close in order to prevent the spread and acceleration of Covid-19 infections. The closure of these centres along with the national lockdown (stay-at-home order) put in place by the SA government has placed significant additional strain on already burdened South African households. In poor and densely populated areas, such as the townships Ikamva works in, thousands of South Africa’s most vulnerable families are confined in large numbers to small informal houses, with the stress of food insecurity and the fear of contracting the virus escalating.

It is well researched that high levels of prolonged stress (termed toxic stress in academic literature), coupled with low levels of social contact (opportunities to connect with your social support system), negatively impacts on individual mental health and on the quality of family relationships. High levels of stress lead to increased tension and conflict in adult relationships, as well as parent-child relationships.

The Response

Ikamva Labantu usually works with ECD principals and practitioners to offer them training on how to manage their preschool, and how to provide quality early education to the children they care for. Their model preschool in Khayelitsha, Kwakhanya Educare, serves as a training facility, where practitioners can gain practical experience and mentorship in the classroom. Ikamva also has a Registration Helpdesk to offer support and guidance to help principals register their preschool and access a government grant.

Due to the national lockdown, Ikamva quickly pivoted their normal service offering and leveraged their ECD networks to inform their emergency response. The Innovation Edge rapid response funding is helping to support their efforts on the following:

  • Providing food and hygiene packs: Ikamva is delivering food and hygiene packs to households, which are home to over 8000 children; 7000 aged 2 – 6 years old. They have partnered with Yebofresh, a company which sources food from various suppliers, packs the food according to the Covid-19 regulations stipulated by the Department of Health (DOH) and delivers the food to Ikamva centres in the townships of Khayelitsha, Langa and Masiphumelele.
  • Providing Psychosocial Support: Ikamva’s psycho-social team consists of 2 social workers and 2 auxiliary social workers, who have essential service permits that allow them to move around in communities, distribute food and make use of the Ikamva community centres. The social workers have been supported to provide remote telephonic support (i.e. advice, referrals and counselling) to caregivers and children in need, as opposed to face-to-face support in homes or from Ikamva centres. Support includes psychosocial support and applying for government grants to alleviate financial distress and hunger.
  • Providing information booklets: Resources that focus on promoting positive bonding interactions between preschool children and their caregivers are included in each of the food and hygiene packs. The resources include a ‘little library’ of 4 isiXhosa storybooks for book sharing and one blank book for creating a story.

Their support is focused on (195) unregistered preschools, because unlike registered preschools, they are not eligible for government support.

Why we invested

Ikamva Labantu has well-established relationships with community leaders, ECD forums and many ECD centre principals making them extremely well-positioned to respond to the community needs. Their emergency response has been mainly focused on food and hygiene, however they have cleverly used this to promote awareness around their psychosocial support. The availability of psychosocial support has been identified as a key priority for the government as they are shifting their focus from purely food security to also deal with the psychological impact of the pandemic on households.

The Project Team

Mildred Bopoto has been working at Ikamva for 10 years, initially as the principal of Kwakhanya Preschool. She became Ikamva’s ECD Manager 3 years ago.