Durban old age association Tafta in cash crisis as state and donors cut funding

15 February 2021 - 15:49
Tafta in Durban is in a financial crisis because of state and donor cutbacks along with increased Covid-19 expenses. Stock photo.
Tafta in Durban is in a financial crisis because of state and donor cutbacks along with increased Covid-19 expenses. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/OBENCEM

A dramatic drop in state and donor funding coupled with escalating Covid-19 expenses has left Durban's The Association for the Aged (Tafta) — which cares for nearly 5,500 pensioners — struggling financially.

Its plight has prompted Tafta to appeal to funders and corporates to “dig deep to help the aged in their care as the organisation battles to close its deficit funding gap”.

According to CEO Femada Shamam, Tafta receives a state subsidy that covers about 7% of an elderly person's needs.

In addition Tafta has been receiving 50% of its usual funding allocation from the state for its service centres.

“To provide a total basket of services including care, Tafta has to fund a 64% shortfall in care costs for elders in our care, after an elder’s pension contribution and the department of social development subsidy we receive for care.

“This shortfall amounts to a R22m annual operational deficit that Tafta meets through fundraising and investment programmes. We meet this target through various activities that include events and activations which we have been unable to host in 2020 and in 2021.”

Shamam said the deficit is set to grow to about R26m this year “due to a difficult fundraising environment and ongoing Covid care costs”.

“If we cannot reach out to vulnerable elders in the eThekwini region, almost 5,500 elders will be affected. These elders depend on Tafta for their meals, community care and social support,” she said.

“We are trying to fill available rental vacancies in fit accommodation as this income also contributes towards the cross-subsidisation model we use to care for our needy elders.

“We are continuously trying to fundraise through other means, including online appeals and online fundraising drives, and we are extremely grateful for the support of our individual givers because corporate, trust and foundation giving has been severely affected.

“We have also braced for the affect through severe cost-cutting measures, but as an NPO we are certainly concerned about the future of our services in the current climate.”

Shamam said the organisation had been hit hard by Covid-19 infections and deaths.

“Since our first case in June 2020, we have recorded a total of 135 positive elder cases and 47 positive staff cases. Sadly, we lost 22 elders and an outsourced staff member. A further 108 have recovered, and we have now finally reached a point where infections have dramatically dropped to just five active cases.

“Nevertheless, the second wave hit us over the festive period with a force we were honestly not prepared for as we worked with skeleton staff as a result of the holiday and staff struck down with infection.

“Staff are also experiencing unprecedented levels of burnout as we fight the pandemic with as many hands as possible, and we’re sincerely appealing to those corporates able to assist, to please reach out to us to meet the financial demands of elder care.”

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