The South African Research Chair Initiative (SARChI) was established in 2006 by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the National Research Foundation (NRF). The aim of the initiative is to strengthen and improve research at public universities across South Africa and to build research capacity of students and emerging scholars.

Professor Leila Patel, the founder of the Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA) at the University of Johannesburg was named the South African Research Chair in Welfare and Social Development in 2015 and has, in the past several years, used the position to build on the role she envisioned for the CSDA when it was established in 2004: as a site for innovative social development research from and about the African continent, and one from which to build the capacity of future generations of social development scholars.

In 2023 Prof Leila Patel stepped down from her role as South African Research Chair (SARChI) in Welfare and Social Development and remains connected with the work of the CSDA and the SARChI as she remains a Professor of Social Development. She will also continue to lead our flagship Communities of Practice for Child Wellbeing study until its completion in 2024.

Prof Tanusha Raniga, is currently the Interim SARChI Chair in Welfare and Social Development. She trained as a social policy analyst at the former University of Natal and did her doctorate on youth sexuality and HIV/AIDS at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She is a recipient of the National Association of South African Education Institutions Young Up and Coming Award and the University of KwaZulu-Natal Award for Outstanding Contribution to the School of Applied Human Sciences in the College of Humanities.

She has served as Treasurer and a Board Member of the Association for Association of South African Social Work Education Institutions (ASASWEI) and the Association for Schools of Social Work in Africa (ASSWA). She served as the Chair of the Editorial Board of the Southern African Journal for Social Work and Social Development and is a member of the Editorial Board for the International Journal of Social Policy and Social Work. 

Prof Raniga’s research focus is social protection policy, feminisation of poverty and sustainable livelihoods. She has published widely in national and international journals and has presented at Social Work conferences.  She is the co-editor of the books titled: The Tensions between Culture and Human Rights: Emancipatory Social Work and Afrocentricity in a Global World.

By providing strategic support and funding to outstanding researchers with vast experience and knowledge, DST and the NRF aim to support universities to nurture postgraduate students with high potential and invest in improving innovation and research output at universities.

Holding the position of SARCHI Chair in Welfare and Social Development helps to build on the strengths of the CSDA and creates valuable opportunities to enhance the work in which the Chair is involved with. The SARCHi Chair in Welfare and Social Development is housed in the CSDA and conducts research in poverty, inequality and vulnerability with a focus on women, children, youth, people with disabilities and in social protection, monitoring and evaluation of developmental social welfare policies and services.

South Africa is a leader in social policy and development in the global South, as a result Prof Raniga is using the SARCHI Chair in Welfare and Social Development to make a significant contribution to innovative new approaches to social development in the region.

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