Small Grants Fund
West Coast Green Projects
Mainstreaming sustainable development through micro grants projects
Siphokazi Mnyani – Project Manager
The Table Mountain Fund (TMF) in partnership with WWF and the West Coast District Municipality, under the management of the West Coast Biosphere Reserve, undertook a pilot Phase of the micro grants project. Fifteen projects were funded and mentored. The focus of this initiative was to demonstrate success in management of natural resources to enhance local economic and rural development. Results from this pilot demonstrates that improving livelihoods and conserving the environment are not merely compatible goals, but intricately linked.
The West Coast District Municipality is located north of Cape Town and forms part of the Cape Floristic Region biodiversity hotspot, one of 34 global biodiversity hotspots. A biodiversity hotspot is a geographic site that has a high concentration and diversity of endemic species (i.e. species that are found nowhere else in the world), and that has been severely impacted on by human activities. Conservation actions in these areas are critical.
Green projects were piloted as they have both environmental and social development benefits. The West Coast Biosphere team searched for green project concepts in the far corners of the west coast. The process of identifying opportunities was done by reviewing IDPs, facilitating workshops and one-on-one meetings with municipalities across the Municipality. Projects with environment, social and economic benefits were prioritised. Local economic development builds small business entrepreneurs; develops skills – management and trades; provides Jobs – wages; potential for repetition rather than one-off; develops partnerships – government, community based organisations, non-profit organisations and fundamentally those projects should be aligned with the IDP objectives.
With much surprise, when a call for projects was advertised a whopping 80 projects applied, all with compelling environmental concepts. Fifteen projects were financed, and each implemented successfully. Each project received R15,000.00. The response from the call for project concepts and the success rate of implementation demonstrates enormous potential for continuity and scaling up.
San Youth Environmental Education and Entrepreneurship
!Khwa ttu is an eco-tourism project that raises awareness about all aspects of the SAN culture. As an opportunity to learn about conservation and its benefits !Khwa ttu San youth between the ages of 9 and 21 built a medicinal plant nursery where they grow different medicinal plants for sale to tourists. This innovative idea was inspired by a growing demand for plant sales after each medicinal plant tour offered on site. Excitingly, after hearing about how different plants heal different ills tourists will now be able to take home a plant from this newly built “nature’s pharmacy”, an opportunity that was not available before. In the nursery each student has a set of different plants that they are responsible for growing. Revenue generated contributes towards their fees and will be re-invested in their individual businesses.
Critically, they will be involved in the administration of that process.
Since the inception of this project, students get dirty on the mud after school, planting different plant species while simultaneously learning. This has hugely stimulated their interest in biodiversity conservation and techniques such as seed harvesting, propagation and cultivation. Now each rand budgeted translates to the value for biodiversity thus, students now see the environment as where their future wealth depends and a solution for future self-employment!
Also based at !Khwa ttu, the Darling stagger is one of three ‘slack packing’ walking experiences starting in Darling., running through Alexanderfontein and Rheboksfontein in the Darling Hills, !Khwa ttu, to Tygerfontein and finishing at Yzerfontein on the coast. For the longest time adventure tourists have always wanted access in this beautiful scenery and the best areas for this route were identified through a feasibility planning process undertaken by the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve and funded by the Development Bank of South Africa.
The micro grant was invested in the construction of a basic bridge over the deeply cut river donga just before getting to !Khwa ttu and a structure over the game fence in the South Eastern corner. The project not only provided jobs to eight workers but it also provided training for the guides servicing the trail and it continues to increase revenue to the tourism facilities along these towns.
Nature’s View alien clearing project
Another conservation champion- Nature’s View has emerged. This is an adventure camping site situated about 10km way from Citrusdal, on a fynbos covered farm. Here, there are no extensive constructions just a showcase of nature in its pristine form. Nature’s View has a hiking trail that leads to a fountain of fresh water and a stream that runs down into a splash pool passing through the property on its way to the Oliphants River. Sadly, the farm’s greatest challenge and a threat to the beauty of the site are alien trees such as Port Jackson and Blue-gum trees.
Nature’s view as an organization believes in the conservation of the environment and has found creative ways to communicate conservation. With TMF funding they have established outdoor Environmental Education classrooms that the local schools can now use for camping. Also, locals benefit from alien clearing activities and planting indigenous trees. These efforts are geared towards at least securing fresh water from the Fountain. Three trail guides have been trained to work with tourists and scholars on the trails. Through this funding the project has been able to provide ten temporary jobs. Natures view prides itself in being a conservation champion and is determined to expand and improve their conservation efforts!
Active Community Theatre and Art – in Saldanha Bay.
In the Greater Saldanha Bay Municipal Area conservation has become a solution to a number of social challenges. The grant provided for an Active Community Theatre (ACT), a creative space where youth are trained on creative and fine arts, i.e. crafts and some drama storytelling, allowed youth to escape from destructive social ills such as alcohol and drug abuse. The Saldanha art group hosts drama nights across different venues in the district, performing plays that educate and raise awareness about complex environmental themes such as global warming, climate change, air and water pollution etc. ACT, a local organization and our partner in this project bought audio equipment and employed two people in preparation for their plays. The initial play, “Bye, Bye Slippersbaai” was performed by ten artists at Steenbergs Cove’s St Mary Anglican Church, an event that attracted over 200 residents of Saldhana and attracted the attention of local government.
‘Financial resources from TMF made our dream possible… we hope to start craft classes and change behaviors in our area” – Elton Lesch, project leader from ACT
Recreational Area with a splash-pool in Algeria
The Cederberg Hiking Trail is a successful adventure tourism operation under Cape Nature management. During the December vacation, the camp site reaches its full capacity but no braais or fires are allowed around the campsites. The Algeria community saw this as an opportunity and through the micro grant they have established an area where day visitors can braai and enjoy the scenery. A tariff/ fee will be charged for maintenance and income for the project. This unlocks an opportunity to create jobs and empower previously disadvantaged community members to generate funds and thus reducing poverty. Seventeen local men and women were employed during the construction. All of this became possible because the Algeria community is well-organised, its two committees assisted in ensuring the success of this and another similar initiative.
Residents of Algeria have a history of complex land rights that has contributed to existing poverty. They descended from the communities of Heuningvlei, Grootkloof and Garskraal, Khoi people who lived in the area for thousands of years. Historical accounts indicate that the community now known as Algeria had residential and use rights dating back to the early 1800s. We hear that they survived through small-scale farming, exploitation of natural resources of the Cederberg notably Buchu and Cedar Wood adding enormous pressure on the environment.
In 1876 the Department of Forestry declared the Cederberg as a forest area and housing was built for Forestry’s workers in the 1960s and 1970s, and this forms the basis of Algeria’s residential site today. In 1980, the Cape Provincial Government was assigned authority to manage the area. Workers previously employed by the Department of Forestry were taken on by Cape Nature Conservation and continued to live in the housing that had been made available to them. Prior to transfer, the majority of the community, or their families, had been resident on Algeria for up to 40 years, yet their tenure was dependent on their continued employment with Cape Nature Conservation (which subsequently became the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board (WCNCB).
Community Picnic Area in Hopefield
Hope Farm is a vibrant Christian/ religious organization with a huge interest in making a positive change in Hopefield. The farm operates as a youth camp for drug rehabilitation, a hub for skills transfer, a space for creativity and a spiritual space that change souls. Hope farm’s team is dedicated to restoration in many ways; they restore and clean public and private gardens as part of their daily community work. This time their work restored the laughter and happiness of the Hopefield children and residents by upgrading the dilapidated community park called “the Block”. The block had a swing structure with no swings nor chains and a roundabout (i.e. merry-go-round) with no floor panels. Hope Farm upgraded the park with steel benches, waste bins, monkey bars and seats for the swings. They also painted the structures and rehabilitated the eroded areas in an effort of promoting visually aesthetic and clean environment for people’s health. Children at Hopefield have since been playing and enjoying their newly built park. Going forward Hope Farm will maintain this park on a monthly basis.
Neulfontein Hiking Trails
In Morreesburg, funding was invested in a Neulfontein Hiking Trail, situated approximately 1.5 km out of the town Moorreesburg. It is a walk through the well known Renosterbos vegetation, a trail that offers panoramic views of Table Mountain. It takes approximately 30 minutes to an hour to hike, starting on the N7 this route leads to a beautiful lookout point called the Signal Canon - a historical landmark. This is the only hiking route in the Morreesburg area where school groups can learn about their environment. The hiking trail will generate economic benefits and has already provided jobs for three workers involved in the clearing of the trail, removing bushes and renovating an old cannon and picnic bench on top. Project partners are: Moorreesburg / Koringberg Tourism Bureau, Koringbedryf Museum & the Bester family Farm, Kruispad.
Eendekuil Aloe Project
Eendekuil is a small town north of Piketburg, some 7kms left of N7, and falls under the management of the Berg River Municipality. Here a tourism beautification cleaning and greening initiative decorated by planting aloes on the public areas along the main street of the town. The primary aim is to attract tourism by making the area visually aesthetic, as the town is closer to the tourism route N7. Eight temporary jobs were created during the construction and planting phase of the project. Aloes were selected because they are indigenous and require little water. They can also adapt easily to the climatic conditions of the town. The diversity of aloe species planted on the urban islands will showcase a kaleidoscope of colors when flowering and will surely brighten up the town at different times of the year. This initial step has inspired the Eendekuil town to work on its tourism and marketing strategy.
Hardeveld Cooking Shelter with Amphitheatre
This project is about Namaqualand traditional food and entertainment and their dependency on the sustainable use of natural resources. Kookskerms or “food kraals” are an old tradition of Namaqualand. In the kookskerm traditional food is prepared on an open fire. The Harderverld kookskerm is built from a plant called Galenia Africana. Next to the kookskerm there is aperformance stage where the Bitterfontein Traditional Dancers will now showcase their talent.
Another kookskerm next to the N7 road will be erected and water tanks built from cob will be fitted to collect water. Other systems will also be implemented which is directly linked with conservation such as waste management and water conservation. This project aims to bring the economic benefits to the community of Bitterfontein. Currently three locals are temporally employed and the dance group of about sixteen youth is fully committed and preparation for this year’s flower season. The project aims to promote tourism through cultural and heritage assets, catalyze job creation through Conservation and environmental initiatives and implement waste management and water conservation systems at the cooking shelter as a model that locals can follow.
Removal of Prosopis (alien) Trees and Giant Reeds.
In a small town called Vanrynsdorp in the Karoo four men are contributing towards conservation by removing giant alien reeds and Prosops trees in the nearby water catchment and wetland. The reeds are used as a natural roofing and for compost and the alien trees are used for firewood. The project is learning new techniques for treating plants and has plans of working with the government Working for Water and Wetland programs. This is a job creation project that can only be sustainable if it’s scaled up. For conservation the project is raising awareness about the impact of alien plants on water resources with the hope that more locals will harvest and use the materials creatively.
Food Garden and Recycling in Protea Park School
Students at Protea Park have never been so enthusiastic about recycling and a food garden! Besides their keen ambition to contribute towards conservation, recycling is part of a competition and generates income for their school. Every day students bring cans and plastic and separate them accordingly. Organic waste/ or biodegradable waste goes to the school’s composting project which is linked to the food garden. While the teachers optimize this setup and conduct conservation and agriculture classes in the garden, this is all an exciting venture for the students. “The food garden allows learners to interact with the aspects of soil, soil pollution, and certain products that are biodegradable, also teaching them what is good and healthy for the earth” – teacher, Mrs. De Waal. A fence has been erected to protect their crops and soon learners from disadvantaged backgrounds will have vegetables to take home.
Elandskloof Hiking Trails
Elandskloof is situated approximately 25 km outside the town of Citrusdal (), in the gorgeous dramatic mountains of the Cederberg. This two hour hiking trail is headed by a strong community leadership in the form of a community association and Mr. Kapok. The project demonstrates the value of a united community as it promotes a better life for all living in Elanskloof and addresses poverty by assisting families and poor students with fees. The trail was developed in consultation with Cape Nature to ensure that conservation areas that have fynbos, Buchu and Besems are protected. Areas that had erosion are also restored and shade huts provided. During the construction phase, the project temporarily employed 20 people and provides an additional two permanent jobs. All efforts are now focused on marketing the trail.
Signing and Upgrading of the Crayfish Hiking Trail
Between Doringbaai and Ebenhaezer along the coast lies a beautiful coastal route known as the crayfish route. Due to neglect the route was hugely dilapidated and enormous efforts went into reconstruction and rehabilitation of the foot pathways. New interpretative signage is provided to keep hikers on the path. On the path there are chairs and shaded resting areas. The route is connected by an indigenous garden.
The Fryer’s Cove Eco-garden.
This is a small indigenous garden. It is a tourist quiet space with a beautiful Labyrinth packed with white stones and the pathways that are filled with crushed shell and signage. Experts say the Labyrinth provides a space for meditation and rejuvenation thus is beneficial in harnessing the healing element of nature. It’s a tourist attraction equipped with pathways and next to bird nesting sites. This is one of the most beautiful routes on the West Coast but also one of the most underdeveloped.
Signing and Upgrading the Flamingo Birding Route,
The upgrading of the Flamingo Birding Route is a tourism and conservation-orientated program aimed at protecting the birdlife and wetland situated in Papendorp. The wetland is the only fresh water area in the Doringbaai region and has several interesting bird species nesting there. Also it is a tourism site that that offers the best birding views in the area. The project focused on upgrading existing structures such as the roofs and the shatters of Bird hides and the upgrading of the bird lookout point “the lapa” located in Papendorp. This structure has been closed off with shade net to buffer against wind with a shade roof to protect against sun one can now sit on the newly erected wooden benches inside the lapa.