Ikamva Letu Zwelihle

Community Greening Project Launched … Why is iKamva Letu Zwelihle going to work when others have failed?

“This greening project is a nice idea … there have been other organisations that have said that they are going to help us green Zwelihle, but, they come for a little while then go and nothing really happens. Why should we believe you will not also desert us?” How does one respond to such a question when proposing a community improvement project to a group of Zwelihle community leaders?

The question is interesting because the Overstrand Conservation Foundation (OCF) faced exactly the same scepticism when OCF manager, Rob Fryer, and Eco-Schools programme coordinator, Sheraine van Wyk, first approached schools in the Overstrand to propose that these schools should join the OCF’s Eco-Schools programme. Many had been into the schools with a bit of fanfare, handed out posters, booklets and brochures and then disappeared never to be seen again. Six schools somewhat nervously signed up onto the environmental education programme in the first year, wondering if the OCF would stay the distance … now, in the fourth year of the programme, the OCF facilitates environmental education in 21 schools and employs 5 people who champion the Eco-Schools programme across the Overstrand. Not only has the OCF stayed the distance but, the Overstrand Eco-Schools node is now the biggest in the Western Cape and one of the most successful in the country!

Relating this track record to the Zwelihle Ward Committees went some way towards instilling some hope that the proposed community project, iKamva Letu Zwelihle, might be different from previous disappointing attempts at greening the Zwelihle village. But what makes it different?

The OCF has drawn from the learning it has gained through the success of the Eco-Schools programme and is using the same model as the basis for iKamva Letu Zwelihle:

  • The project has a community champion, Ivan Vokwana, who used his own initiative to transform Lobi Street into a garden street.
  • The project name “iKamva Letu Zwelihle,” which means “Our Future Zwelihle,” was coined Ivan.
  • There are 5 improvement themes associated with the project; greening is only one aspect of the project. Lasting success will only be achieved if there is tangible evidence of improvement in other important areas of community life.
  • Each of the improvement themes needs appropriate support. The OCF has drawn representatives from other NGOs already working in Zwelihle onto a project steering committee to ensure that they are all working in concert and pooling resources toward iKamva
  • Letu Zwelihle objectives.
    The project needs to be community-owned and run using a simple plan-do-review annual improvement cycle to drive incremental change processes.

The iKamva Letu Zwelihle project may be facilitated by the OCF, but it is a partnership involving the Overberg District Municipality, the Overstrand Municipality, Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (DAFF), Red Door, Rainbow Trust, Community Police Forum, Reach for Life No Regrets, Small Business Support Group, Junior Town Council and Eco-Schools. Other NGOs or volunteers who wish to participate are welcome to contact Rob Fryer on 028 313 2025.

The project was publically launched by Mayor Nicolette Botha-Guthrie with a tree planting ceremony in Zwelihle on Monday 1st November. Zwelihle councillors and members of the community, supported representatives of the project steering committee, heard how they can participate in the greening component of the project and how other improvement components will be introduced.

Members of the community are invited to apply for free trees to plant on their own properties. To qualify for the allocation of a tree, the property owner will need to first demonstrate that the property is clean. The OCF will assist the owner to select and plant a tree. If the owner demonstrates that the tree has been looked after and that the property remains clean for 6 months, application can be made for a second tree or vegetable garden. If the property owner can get the neighbours on both sides to participate then the three neighbours become eligible for assistance to clean and green the pavement outside of their properties. Zwelihle schools, crèches and churches are also eligible to make application to benefit from the greening process.

Zwelihle people who want to take advantage of the assistance offered to green their properties are invited to apply to Ivan Vokwana who will soon be setting up to receive applications at the Zwelihle taxi rank.

The project has been fortunate to receive 100 trees donated by the Global Wheeling Foundation, an organisation formed by Kayden Kleinhans, and 50 trees supplied by DAFF. Kayden is cycling from the UK to Cape Town to create awareness of the need for greening of historically disadvantaged communities and raise funds to plant trees and provide bicycles for people in these communities.

Examples of how other themes in iKamva Letu Zwelihle are inspiring improvement work in the first year of the project include:

  • The collection for publication of Xhosa proverbs that show how these guide living in harmony with our environment. These will be collected through the Eco-Schools programme. (Heritage & Culture theme)
  • The publication of a calendar showing how the Xhosa names for months derive from nature. This will also be conducted through the Eco-Schools programme. (Heritage & Culture theme)
  • Implementation of the Reach for Life No Regrets moral regeneration programme in the Qhayiya Secondary School. (Healthy Living theme)

iKamva Letu Zwelihle is strongly endorsed by the Overstrand Municipality with the Mayor offering political support and the Municipal Manager committing tangible practical assistance by all departments. The Ward Committees have approved the allocation of R100 000 from their discretionary budget to contribute to the rolling out of the project.

Rob Fryer
Manager, Overstrand Conservation Foundation