11 January 2006
All over South Africa, people and organisations are working to uplift the poor, save the environment, care for children and develop the country’s economy. These projects make a meaningful difference in the lives of ordinary people, but rarely make headlines.
Rewarding these interventions and giving them the attention they deserve is the work of the Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust, which held its 2005 awards ceremony in December.
Impumelelo is a Xhosa word meaning “success through working together”. The Impumelelo Innovations Awards Trust was created to reward innovations in government and public-private partnerships that reduce poverty and address key development issues. It is based on a model developed by the Ford Foundation, in partnership with the John F Kennedy School of Government and Harvard University.
The trust rewards exceptional projects that involve partnerships with the public sector and enhance the quality of life of poor communities in innovative ways. Some R1-million is distributed every year to the most exceptional projects.
The idea is that Impumelelo will become a permanent resource and database of innovations and best practices in the delivery of social services.
At the 2005 awards ceremony, four projects received the Impumelelo Platinum Awards and prize money of R50 000 each. Gold Awards, also worth R50 000 each, went to 10 projects, while Silver Awards and R20 000 went to each of 24 projects.
Working on Fire Programme
Every year, wildfires cost the South African economy millions of rand and cause loss of life and livelihoods. They devastate not only the forestry and farming sectors, but also those least able to afford such losses – the rural poor. Working on Fire was introduced in 2003 as a multidisciplinary government and private sector response, providing support to the National Disaster Management Unit.
Four regional cluster offices, 44 fire bases and 46 Hotshot teams are located across the country, providing jobs to 1 120 previously unemployed people. They undergo rigorous training on fire-fighting, fire suppression, manual fire reduction, health and safety, social development and a wide range of life skills.
Zion Anti-Rape Project
South Africa has one of the highest rape statistics in the world. In 2004 a partnership between the South African Police Service in Limpopo’s Vhembe district and the Zion Christian Church, one of the biggest churches in SA, set up a joint educational campaign to educate people about rape and abuse, distributing 12 000 pamphlets and t-shirts. Community meetings reached 57 000 people, and reported rapes decreased from 11% to 4%.
Local Labour Promotion Project
To deliver services and decrease their municipal debt, the Western Cape’s Overstrand municipality introduced a debt-reduction pilot project in Hermanus’s Zwehile township in 2005. Eighteen people whose municipal bill was in arrears built ablution facilities at the local sports field in return for a reduction of debt. It cost the municipality R350 000; with a private company the same building would have cost the municipality about R1-million. The beneficiaries’ accounts were credited with R179 887.
Isibindi Umbumbulu – Creating Circles of Care – was initiated in 2001 by the National Association of Child Care Workers in response to the needs of HIV/Aids children and their families in the area surrounding Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. As an alternative to placing children in state residential institutions, 14 child and youth care workers were trained and visited 190 children and 55 families over a nine-month period, with 31 grants processed.
All the children attend school – school fees and uniforms have been provided – and their families have been trained in food gardening. Eighteen children are involved in income-generating projects, with 38 youngsters and their siblings having received life skills training. Public-private partnerships have made the project cost effective, with the cost per child some R120 per month, as opposed to R5 000 in state residential facilities.
The Learning Channel
To improve proficiency in maths, science and technology in South African schools, various partnerships were formed to launch the Liberty Life Learning Channel on SABC 3 in 1990, targeting children in grades 10 to 12.
It is a live phone-in broadcast where pupils have access to syllabus-specific lessons in maths, science, biology and English. Educational material is also published in newspapers such as the Sunday Times, Sowetan, Daily Despatch, Eastern Province Herald, Argus, Rapport, Die Burger, Beeld and Pretoria News.
The project’s success can be seen in the 600 hours of free transmission time the public broadcaster gives it every year, an indication of the channel’s impact and audience rating. This is the only live programme of its kind in the world.
HIV/Aids Task Team
In 2003 the Siyancuma municipality of the Northern Cape introduced an HIV/Aids Task Team to deal with the epidemic in Douglas and surrounding towns. After conducting a baseline survey of the area and setting up partnerships with churches and organisations in the area, the municipality conducted a protracted door-to door awareness campaign, encouraging voluntary counselling and testing.
Twelve peer educators were trained, four awareness campaigns were conducted in schools and churches, and condoms were widely distributed. The main objectives have been to change sexual behaviour and destigmatise the disease.
Grandmothers Against Poverty & Aids
One impact of HIV/Aids is that grandmothers are increasingly burying their own children and grandchildren. With this in mind, an occupational therapist and grandmothers from Khayelitsha in the Western Cape formed Grandmothers Against Poverty and Aids (Gapa), with the aim of helping grandmothers whose families are affected by HIV/Aids.
Over 400 grandmothers attend monthly workshops and address issues such as Aids education, how to access government grants, developing business skills, food gardening, bereavement counselling, child care, nutrition and drawing up a will. Nineteen home support groups cater for 190 grandmothers who look after 350 children. About 70 grandmothers receive preschool bursaries for their grandchildren. Similar groups have been formed in the Eastern Cape.
Integrated Serviced Land Project
The provision of early childhood development (ECD) services is a problem in poor communities on the Cape Flats in the Western Cape. In 2001 the South African government, in partnership with the ECD Centre, built six centres in Delft, Crossroads, Browns Farm, and Weltevreden Valley.
Seventy-six jobs were created, over 120 women were trained in ECD, and 480 children are now given preschool education. In addition, 158 community members were trained in school governance, leadership and financial management, while 1 324 children gained access to the child support grant.
Many township children are malnourished due to the poverty of their mothers. In 2004 a partnership between Philani, the community and the government established an integrated childhood illnesses management programme in Khayelitsha, a poor settlement near Cape Town.
The programme takes child health and nutrition beyond clinics into the community, with 65 volunteers in nine informal settlements providing support to women who care for their children at home. Some 2 000 malnourished children have been identified, 62% of whom have regained their age-appropriate weight.
One benefit is that the home-based approach costs less than clinic-based health and nutrition rehabilitation programmes. In addition, the children’s mothers have been helped to start their own money-earning activities.
The Eben Donges Regional Hospital in the Western Cape introduced the 18.2 Learnership project in 1997 to train unemployed women in auxiliary nursing, focusing on anatomy, physiology and basic health care. Since then 90 women have completed their internship and are employed, 40 cleaners have had their skills upgraded to auxiliary nurses, 36 nurses have completed a second year of training and 32 have completed a third. The national drop-out rate for such training is 40%; at Eben Donges it is zero.
Cape Flats Nature
The Cape Flats is at the heart of the Cape Floristic Region biodiversity hotspot, a world heritage site with over 1 400 indigenous plant species, including 131 rare or endangered species of which 76 are narrow endemics. Cape Flats Nature was set up in 2003 to foster the conservation of fragmented natural habitats in an urban setting where land is scarce and poverty is widespread. Functioning in a relatively poverty-stricken area, it has four pilot sites.
To foster a sense of community ownership and to cultivate a conservation ethic, surrounding communities were exposed to environmental education, recreation and job creation activities. Some 200 environment educators were trained, 252 jobs were created and almost 11 000 learners benefited from educational and recreational activities.
Go for Gold Programme
Go for Gold, established in 1999 as a partnership between the construction sector and the Western Cape Education Department, aims to help disadvantaged students improve their maths and science skills and help them enter the construction industry.
The project serves 23 schools on the Cape Flats, providing extra lessons and additional supervision. So far, 75 students have passed Grade 12; they are then placed at a construction site for a year. Some 72% of the project’s beneficiaries are currently employed in the construction sector or undergoing tertiary education. A second office has been opened in Mitchell’s Plain.
Stock theft is a major problem in Limpopo province. Before the South African Police Service launched Operation Thiba in 2004, most farmers did not bother to report stock theft as the recovery rate was below 10%. The operation involved establishing stock theft units in four districts, with small-scale farmers educated about branding and the registration of brand marks. Within two months, There was a 60% drop in stock theft. The operation recovered 949 cattle and 265 sheep, destroyed 12 syndicates, made 189 arrests and secured 89 convictions.
Beaufort West Hydroponics
The dry Beaufort West region of the Karoo is characterised by high unemployment and poverty, with drought hitting agriculture hard and making farming by conventional means extremely difficult.
A partnership between the CSIR, the municipality and the community led to the establishment of a hydroponics project in 2002, in which various herbs are produced. Hydroponics does not need soil; the nutrients are in the irrigation water and the crop grown inside greenhouses.
The project has given jobs to 60 people – the highest employment figure for a single company in the area. Crops grown include coriander, sweet basil, rocket, mint, spinach, lettuce and tomatoes, all of which are sold to Woolworths.
- iKamva Labantu
- Tshebele Pele (Gauteng)
- Talking Beads (Gauteng)
- Men on the Side of the Road Project
- (W Cape)
- Food Gardening (Gauteng)
- Enviro-Permaculture Project (Limpopo)
- Happy Hours Day Care Centres
- Customer Service Project (KwaZulu-Natal)
- Durban Air Quality Plan (KwaZulu-Natal)
- Emseni Community Projects (KwaZulu-Natal)
- Primedia Skills Development (Gauteng)
- Slang Park Housing Project (Western Cape)
- Zibambele Road Programme (KwaZulu-Natal)
- Cape Craft and Design Institute (Western Cape)
- Perinatal Mental Health Project (Western Cape)
- Community-Based Seed Production (Limpopo)
- Ebenhauser Dam (Western Cape)
- Morning Star Children’s Centre (Free State)
- Uthango Enterprise Project (Western Cape)
- Electrification of Ha-Muraga Village (Limpopo)
- Black Sash (Western Cape)
- Monash South Africa & the Hothouse Incubator (Gauteng)
- KZN Music Project (KwaZulu-Natal)
- Kgalagadi Sanitation Programme (Northern Cape)
- Ukunakekela Rape Survivors Project (KZN)SouthAfrica.info reporter
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