The KZN-based African Conservation Trust has seen unexpected results from its food security initiatives, implemented across three provinces.
In a recent survey, the project coordinators realised that the food produced was sustaining more people than anticipated and income generated from surplus vegetable sales was being used to offset costs.
Francois du Toit, CEO of the African Conservation Trust (ACT) says that thanks to the Social Employment Fund (SEF) the NGO has put 2928 people to work on diverse projects. ACT’s projects are funded by SEF, a mass employment programme with the goal of providing a stipend for the unemployed while they work on projects for the common good.
ACT is one of 28 supporting partners implementing projects across the country, for SEF.
Most of the KZN, Free State, and Mpumalanga projects are food security focussed, involve permaculture practices, and encourage seed saving to help the participants to reduce their annual costs. The process begins with an intensive, hands-on training course, followed by mentorship and seedling supplies to help establish gardens.
Du Toit says, “The impact of the Social Employment Fund extends beyond a simple stipend for participants – it has provided opportunity to discouraged job seekers and improved their self-worth while helping them to support their families and communities.”
Other current ACT projects under the SEF fund include soil erosion rehabilitation in KZN, to assist with water catchment and conservation for the Upper Tugela Catchment area, and monitoring teams visiting important rock art sites outside of the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park, to preserve unique paintings from early man. Project participants have also contributed more than 37 000 extra unpaid volunteer days in their communities, cleaning roads, schools, homes for the elderly, and police stations.
Du Toit says, “We were surprised at the large number of indirect beneficiaries that the project is impacting, not including the community benefit from communal food gardens, cleaner environments, repaired roads, and other voluntary efforts. A general trend is that households tend to be bigger in deeply rural regions, than in urban and peri-urban sites. Teams based in KwaZulu-Natal had far larger households on average, than those in Mpumalanga and the Free State. The total direct and indirect beneficiaries of the 2928 SEF participants was an impressive 22,088 people. Thus, on average, each SEF participant is helping a household of seven to eight people. Many of the participants are also the sole breadwinners in the family.”
Contact for further information:
Carl Grossman, Chairman of the African Conservation Trust: firstname.lastname@example.org
Francois du Toit, CEO of African Conservation Trust: email@example.com
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