Digital Content

Local non-governmental organisation (NGO) Sangonet has been licensed by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) to re-introduce and further develop the South African development directory, Prodder, as an online service.

As a result, the South African NGO Coalition (Sangoco), the Non-profit Organisation (NPO) Directorate and Sangonet will produce a comprehensive online database of South African NGOs and other development agencies. The database, to be launched in March, is expected to benefit at least 90 000 organisations within the non-profit sector.

“This is a milestone in our 10-year history. Digital poverty mirrors the marginalisation that most of our members confront on a daily basis,” says Zanele Twala, executive director of Sangoco. “Internet and e-mail access in SA is largely used by privileged groups and does not amount to more than 3% of the population. Thousands of NGOs, faith-based organisations and community-based organisations (CBOs) have to respond to the plight of over 9 million people living in dire poverty. Most of the CBOs do not even have a fax machine, let alone e-mail or Internet facilities – something we must remedy,” she says.

Gail Smith, director for the NPO Directorate, says the partnership will bring to life the department's database, which will benefit NGOs and CBOs primarily, and the cause of sustainable development in general.

The new Prodder directory aims to serve as a user-friendly, one-stop Internet entry point to information on South African NGOs and development organisations. It will showcase the work of South African NGOs, raise awareness of their development activities, and highlight the issues and challenges they face. It will also offer information and reference and resource tools for NGOs.

Prodder was established in the 1980s and 1990s as the most comprehensive development publication of its kind in Africa and became a much sought-after reference tool on southern African development, says Sangonet. The new Prodder will be a combination of the NPO Directorate's database, collected over the past eight years, Sangoco's membership database, HSRC Prodder and Sangonet's electronic databases and services.