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Verslag: Urban Challenge in Zuid-Afrika

winnaars Urban Challenge doen verslag van hun projectreis

Day 1: 23rd of April. Arrived safely in the Mother City

Early morning we (Merel, Jan, Astrid and Liana) met at Schiphol Amsterdam to catch a plane to Cape Town, the Mother City of South Africa. Instead of landing in Cape Town the pilot choose to land in Windhoek Namibia, this due to health condition of a fellow passenger. Due to these circumstances we were delayed for approximately 3 hours. Nevertheless after a short sleep, the next morning we pretended being fresh and brightly to do our presentation for 15 stakeholders including Cordaid Partners Urban Matters together with the two South African Students (Phindile and Suzall).

Day 2: 24th of April. Presentation to Local Urban Matters Team

Today we gave a presentation to the local urban matters team, local organisations and universities at the Philippi Business Place.

After the presentation there was an interactive session where the audience shared their views about the proposal. The feedback was constructive and very valuable for the project proposal. The following comments were of main concern for the audience:

Health related issues: The group from Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihoods Programme from the University of Cape Town did a community risk assessment. In this assessment they found that solid waste is one of the biggest risk concerns for communities in Philippi. This group was in particular concerned with the risks that community faces for example rats, children eating rubbish, children playing in the rubbish and children at risk of being bitten by rats.

Private land ownership: In many cases private land ends up being a dumping site for the surrounding communities. This poses a lot of health risks for community especially for the children who play on these sites.

Value-Adding: One of the guests was very excited a project like this and suggested that the produce of the food garden can be branded, marketed and sold off to the fresh market stores and nurseries.

Sustainability of project: Majority of the guests were concerned with the length and feasibility of the programme.

Children dropping out or losing interest: It was also mentioned that there is possibility that children might drop out or lose interest in the project. They were in particular interested in how the project is making provision for this. A suggestion for this was to keep the children motivated for them to constantly come back, and make the project more fun for the youth to participate.

Resistance to gardening and farming community: Even though Philippi has great potential for urban agriculture, they face challenges regarding youth participation and getting them motivated. It was suggested that younger children are a better target group and will be more susceptible to the idea of food gardening.

Selection criteria: They were concerned about the number of children that will participate on the project, and on what basis will these children be selected, as well as they thought that the youth age 14-15 years will be difficult to approach and participate in the project because they are more focused on other things. They also gave us the main risks to the success of the project

Value adding product: In our proposal we outlined opportunities for expansion by suggesting the selling of a certain product at the project. The stakeholders were enthusiastic about this and recommended us to sell cuttings in (recycled) bottles, worm tea etc. They also supported the idea to sell garden materials (like shovels, rake etc) made from recycled waste material.

The team then posed a question to the audience and asked them what they think is the most important factors for the success of the project. The following were given as a response:

    * Income generation is critical because it is a buy in and it will contribute to uplifting the community
    * Education and uplifting the children
    * Be aware of the fact that there is a resistance to gardening and farming by the locals in particular the youth, so it was suggested that children between the ages of 7 to 15 years is perfect target group. It was suggested that there is not enough farming activities in the area that focus on children and that a project like this holds a lot of potential.
    * Younger children are more susceptible to the idea of farming or gardening and are easier to control than teenagers.
    * It was also suggested that schools will be a good place to start.
    * The project should be sensitive to the fact that it does not motivate children not to attend school. The reason given for this is that children can easily see this as an opportunity not to go to school.

Lastly one of the members of the audience raised a critical question. He asked what the core business of our project is and whether it is based on the children or the technical side of organic waste management in the area. It was said that there is potential for a project like this especially if it can build on what is already happening in the community. The technical side of the project also has a lot of potential and the group can add value to this.

Day 3: 25th of April. Tour Philippi

You would expect Africa will have bright sunny warm days. Unfortunately this day the clouds were shattered over Cape Town and it was raining. This day we visited Philippi and especially the weather conditions made clear why waste is such a problem in Philippi. Waste material is blocking the drain so the rain water is not able to flow away well and causes floods. 

Philippi is a vibrant township with 250.000 inhabitants. In Philippi there are a lot of informal vegetable/food-stalls. Most vegetables from Cape Town are cultivated on farms in Philippi.  The Philippi tour started at business place where our tour guide, Bonisile from Urban Matters, together with Ana, a program manager from a HIV/AIDS organization based in Philippi. The purpose of the tour was to know more about gardening, getting pictures for the blog and to observe the local situation in Philippi. Particularly to identify open field plots and Bonisile took us to 7 plots that presented a possibility for gardening. We also went to the “Tshoga Resource Centre” and Bonisile gave us a short briefing on what’s happening at the centre and what services are offered to the locals.

We went to meet Patricia, a foster-mum, who lives with approximately 30 orphan children in an extended shack. We were impressed how these people are dealing with their situation and the children did some awesome dances for us.

Day 4: 26th of April. Robben Island and Table Mountain

Besides working very hard and being in the field for the last 2 days we had a nice and relaxing day to do some touristic sight seeing and experience the diversity of Cape Town. Robben Island is one of the biggest attractions for tourists in Cape Town. Not only is it the place of imprisonment of Nelson Mandela but it also gives an impression of the effects of apartheid and what affect it had on the South African society. We were all deeply touched and amazed by this experience.

Even though some of us have been on Table Mountain a couple of times before, it remains the most breath taking site in the world. It also reveals the amazing geographical lay out of this beautiful city and coast lines.  

End word
So far we learned a lot with regards to our project and experience Cape Town on a different level and saw places that most tourists will not go to. We really appreciated the fact that the people in the townships welcomed us with open arms and shared their experiences and knowledge with us. This experience is the most valuable attribute to our project mainly because we think and do believe that the community itself has the solution to their own problems. We are proud to be the medium for such meetings to take place. 

Besides the work that we have been doing we also had some quality time as a group and enjoyed pleasant evenings together. These three days were incredible and fantastic and we are looking forward to the rest of the activities that the programme has to offer. 

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