About Ingwavuma

Ingwavuma is a deep rural area situated in the northern most tip of Kwa Zulu Natal. The projects service three tribal areas of KwaMathenjwa, KwaNyawo and KwaMngomezulu, also known as part of District 27.2, the Jozini Municipality within Umkhanyakude District.

The population is approximately 108 000 with adult unemployment at 60%. 5% of households have piped water and 3.6% of households are supplied with electricity.

Umkhanyakude District Municipality is 1 of the 2 identified districts in South Africa where there is the lowest level of economic activity.

In addition, it is 1 of 13 nodes where the level of underdevelopment needs special attention. That is, Umkhanyakude is a presidential node as defined by the Department of Provincial and Local Government. (DPLG Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Programme Nodal focus).

To refer to this area as poverty stricken is grossly understated. Plainly put, there is a lack of access to basic human needs.

Ingwavuma’s Challenges


  • Schools are under-resourced, having insufficient classrooms, offices, toilets and water supplies.
  • There are also a high number of unqualified educators.
  • Few of the qualified educators have had the benefit of placements during training at modern establishments, so standards are generally lower than in city schools.
  • Learners cannot reach their potential due to the lack of sufficient educational services.

Economic Activity

  • The SMMEs face a number of problems/constraints i.e. no business premises, inadequate infrastructure, insufficient capital, lack of access to finance, high transportation costs. Further, there is limited access to sources of information, business management and training.


  • Of the 3913 deaths between 2003 and 2006, 53% were certified as having HIV/AIDS as the underlying cause of death. (For a population of 108 000, this is of serious concern).
  • Between 2003 and 2006, there was a significant increase in mortality in the 0 -4 years age group. 371 deaths were recorded, 30 % of the deaths were attributed to HIV/AIDS.
  • The highest death rates are between the ages of 20-49 (peaking between ages 34 – 39). 2182 were recorded with over 50% attributed to HIV/AIDS.
  • HIV/AIDS continues to be the dominant public health concern in the sub-district being responsible for most deaths and leading to the low life expectancy of about 40 years.
  • The women carry an enormous burden of caring for not just their children, but their nieces, nephews and grandchildren who usually have been orphaned as the result of HIV/AIDS. They have become sole-providers and carers with very little employment and income generating opportunities.
  • Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC)
  • The high HIV/AIDS prevalence has and continues to decimated the parent / young adult population (25 to 49 years), leaving a trail of OVC and many forced to grow up in child-headed households (57% of the population is between 0-19years). The consequence of these home situations is that very little essential parental / adult guidance is given. There are gaps in these children’s psychological and emotional development. Here is a typical scenario from a child-headed household –

The female in the household (as young as 13) drops out of school to care for her younger siblings. She falls prey to older men who ‘propose love’ and ‘promises’ to take care of her and siblings. Craving love and security she believes him. After she falls pregnant, he disappears. The pattern continues; she has more children from other men, contracts HIV and dies in 5-10 years. Her daughter repeats the cycle. On the other hand, the male OVC are easily lured into delinquent behaviour for survival and this is where some of the “Tsotsi’s” of South Africa begin their journey.

  • Orphans who are placed with extended family members (foster parent/s) are prone to abusive attitudes (sexual, physical and emotional) in their household. Here are two true stories to explain the situation –

An 18 years old female was orphaned at age 5. Her extended family took her in and she was sexual abused by her uncle. One day she asked her uncle why he did that to her and not his daughters, was it because she didn’t have parents? She eventually ran away and started fending for herself from the age of 12. She sometimes stole to survive and used sex to get money, food or accommodation. She was caught stealing at the local supermarket and was jailed. Because she was pregnant at the time, they released her pending the outcome of her court case. Instead of going to the hospital to have her baby, she delivered it alone in an outside toilet and dropped the newborn down the ‘drop toilet’. Obviously the baby died and the teenager went into hiding. Recently, she was caught and is in prison waiting trial. A three-year old HIV positive orphan is living with her extended family. The child has been grossly neglected and has become seriously ill. The relatives are afraid to interact with the little girl because they believe they would be infected. The uncle has refused to allow the aunt to take her to clinic for treatment. When asked why by one of our field workers, his response was ‘what do I get out of it?’

Situations of child abuse and neglect have become far too familiar. The local department of welfare is over-stretched lacking staff, transport and training to deal with such cases.