The Cata Project
Border Rural Committee
South Africa

The Problem

The “homelands” policy of the Apartheid-era government in South Africa has had numerous long-lasting consequences for those affected. The policy involved moving those of different ethnic groups or tribes to specific areas in the country, often forcibly, and often to areas with minimal potential for farming or income-generation. This led to wide-scale poverty, unemployment and hunger for those left in these areas, and also contributed to the break-up of many families – the family breadwinners (often the father or son in a family) would leave for the city to find work, returning only once or twice a year, if at all. Many would send money to their families on a monthly basis, while others would simply disappear into the cities. The migratory nature of many of the men from these communities also led to an increase in sexually transmitted infections, as men would have numerous wives or girlfriends, or visit prostitutes while away from their families, become infected, and then return home and pass the infections on to their wives or girlfriends in the villages. Opportunities for education in these areas were also often minimal, and many children and adults remained illiterate – those that could access education often had to drop out of school to work to raise money to help feed their families. Thus, the homelands policy led to widespread poverty, land loss, lack of education, unemployment, and the break-up of families.

Two areas which perhaps suffered the most during this time were the homelands of the Ciskei and Transkei in the Eastern Cape. Despite government attempts to address the pervasive poverty through land restitution, poverty alleviation initiatives, and job-creation drives, many villages remain entrenched in deep poverty. Cata village, near Keiskammahoek in the Eastern Cape, is one such example. In a 2001 census, it was found that 43% of houses had no source of income; while only 6% had an income of more than R1600 a month (under R1500 a month was defined as being below the poverty line); and only 2% of people had permanent jobs. 100 people in the village (out of approximately 2000) had completed high school; and almost 50% had less education than a grade 7. Only 3% of households used electricity for cooking.

All residents of the villages are affected by the long-term impacts of the former policies. However, women and children often bore the brunt of this. Men left the areas to find work in towns, leaving the women to head households in their absence, and to try to earn an income, as well as raise the children. Tribal authorities in these areas are also often male-dominated, and women have little or no say in their decisions.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The project aims to achieve wide-ranging development and poverty alleviation initiatives in the rural village of Cata, with the main focus being on infrastructure, agriculture, forestry and tourism. These aims have resulted in numerous projects. On the infrastructure front, a multi-purpose community hall has been built, primary school classrooms have been built or renovated, and internal roads in the village have been upgraded. In terms of agriculture, an old irrigation scheme in the village has been resuscitated to run as a commercial enterprise, while water is stored and channelled into household food gardens. The forestry initiative has included establishing and maintaining a commercial wattle and pine plantation on the mountainside. To meet the tourism initiative, the project has established a museum, a heritage trail, and built chalets. Many of the labour-intensive projects (eg. Construction) employ local labourers on a rotating basis so that all people are able to access an income, even if it only for a short period of time.

A follow-up census in 2007 showed that the employment rate had increased from 4% in 2001, to 26%; and 300 people had gained part-time employment through the Cata project. The percentage of households with a monthly income of R1600 or more had increased to 31% (from 6%); and households with no income at all had dropped from 43% to only 4%. The percentage of people who had less than a Grade 7 education had dropped from 50% to 35%; and 51% of households were using electricity for cooking (up from just 3%). Annual satisfaction surveys are conducted among residents, and in 2007 99% of households reported that they eat twice a day or more often; and almost half of families eat more regularly than they did three years ago. 51% of households had their own bank account; and 59% of these are held by a woman (well above the national averages). 84% of households reported that their economic situation had improved as a result of the project; 91% were “happy about most thing” or “very positive” about the project; while 85% described the development process as “democratic” or “sufficiently democratic”. The irrigation scheme has also led to more families having food security, by helping in the production of more fresh and cheap vegetables in the village; and 30 households have had water tanks installed, which means they have a source of food and income. The Communal Property Association (which is the body of local residents who manage the project on a day-to-day basis in the village) has a number of women on its board, meaning that women’s voices are now being taken into consideration in decisions affecting the community. This project therefore proves that Land Restitution can be a significant driver of building social capital in communities fractured by dispossession and relocation.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
Four main bodies were involved in the design and implementation of this project: the Amatole District Municipality (ADM – a local government body); the Border Rural Committee (BRC – a land-rights non-governmental organisation); the Project Steering Committee (PSC – made up of local residents and project planners); and the Communal Property Association (CPA – a body of local Cata residents). The original funding for the project came through a land restitution claim which was awarded to the Cata residents in 2000 by the South African government. The money was paid out with 50% going to the more than 300 claimants, and 50% being placed in a pool for development of the area. The BRC initiated the litigation process for the land claim as a test case. Once the claim was granted, BRC remained involved hoping to show what could be achieved in terms of broad poverty alleviation development in similar areas through the use of land restitution grants. They have therefore been involved by fundraising, planning, bringing in outside resources and expertise, and providing institutional capacity. The ADM is responsible for administering the development process and managing the development monies. The CPA represents the residents, and takes part in the decision-making on all projects. All residents of the village are therefore stakeholders, and are involved in decision-making.

A number of other government departments have also been involved in the implementation of the project, such as the Department of Land Affairs (who processed the claim); the National Development Agency (who provided funding); the Department of Agriculture (funding); the Department of Education (funds for renovating the schools); the Department of Public Works (upgrading the main roads into the village); and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (assistance in setting up the forestry project). BRC has generated significant funding through donors, including DFID, Africa Groups of Sweden, Misereir, Hivos, North-South Institute, and the National Lottery, in conjunction with the University of Fort Hare. A number of groups also provided training to local people, such as Ground Zero (soil conservation); Earth Innovations (crop production and management, soil conservation); and Birdlife South Africa. A number of local and international groups have conducted research on the development processes in Cata, including a group of visiting Swedish students; and BRC, which conducts an annual socio-economic situation census, and an opinion barometer.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The main objective of the project is to use the land restitution grant as a springboard to implement a participatory integrated development plan, contributing to the quality of village amenities, skills and capacity development, livelihood and employment opportunities, empowerment, food security and poverty alleviation.

The process has been participatory from the start, with local residents forming the CPA to represent their interests; and through ongoing discussion and negotiation on all aspects of the development. All projects needed to be approved by local residents; and members of the CPA have more say on the process than government representatives. A member of the CPA also sits on the BRC board, to ensure that the community remains up to date on any new planned developments. In order to improve the quality of village amenities, the project had a strong focus on developing the infrastructure of the area. This included building the multi-purpose community hall (which is used for everything from a social grant pay-out point and a crèche to offices for the CPA and the local museum); renovating or building three primary school classrooms; upgrading the local roads; and resuscitating the village irrigation scheme.

Skills and capacity development has been achieved both through the participatory nature of the project (empowering local residents to begin taking responsibility for the project); and by using local community members to carry out all the labour-intensive projects, including providing training for them. This has also contributed to employment opportunities. Around 300 people have gained temporary employment through the project, while more than 70 have been trained through the different initiatives. A labour desk was also established, which ensures that the jobs are awarded on a rotating basis so that as many people as possible can earn an income. Interventions to improve livelihood and food security include the establishment of the wattle and pine plantation, and the resuscitation of the irritation scheme. Both provided employment and income for local residents; as well as providing skills training. Many people were also able to use the water from the irrigation scheme to water food gardens, enabling them to grow vegetables for subsistence, and to sell for profit. This means that individual households, but also the village as a whole, have improved food security, as vegetables are more easily and cheaply available than before. All of the above processes have also contributed to empowerment of the local residents, and to poverty alleviation.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The original land restitution claim was initiated by the BRC as a test case, and was paid out in 2000, with 50% going to 334 individual claimants (around R31 697.50 each); and 50% put towards development projects for the community, to be planned through consultation between the government and the community. A two-year planning and negotiation process took place between the ADM and the community, which resulted in an Integrated Development Plan (IDP) being produced by the ADM in 2003, which set out how the remaining R5.3m of the grant was to be invested. The claimants pooled their money, and the majority of this has since been used to pay out salaries for those being employed by the project. Four core areas were to be focused on: infrastructure, agriculture, forestry, and tourism. The CPA was developed and registered in June 2004 to manage the process at a community level.

The BRC has remained involved in the project, as it hoped to use Cata as a pilot project to showcase what could be achieved through using land restitution grants for development purposes. Land restitution claims have been instituted for numerous other villages in the area, and a number have been successful. Similar development projects have also begun in other areas, although their success has yet to be determined. BRC began fundraising in 2000, and raised roughly R6m by 2003. From 2003-2006, development took place slowly, and not always effectively. Only 170 part-time jobs had been created, road upgrading was intermittent, the forestry project was not providing many jobs, and the irrigation project had failed to become productive. However, from 2006-2007, the project’s implementation picked up – the forestry project was expanded and improved; the road upgrading started again; and the irrigation scheme was restructured and began to be productive (making between R800 and R1200 a day from sales). The tourism project was also established in this time, through the opening of the museum, and ongoing work on the trail and chalets. 40 people had also started offering accommodation in their homes, allowing them to access an extra source of income. The aim is for the CPA to take increasing responsibility for the project, and eventually start to run it themselves.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The project has faced numerous obstacles over time. The first major issue has been trying to plan a development project with more than 300 stakeholders, each of whose voice needs to be heard and taken into consideration. The planning process took more than two years, as ongoing negotiation and planning had to take place. It was also difficult to get unanimous consensus on how to use the monies granted in the land restitution claim, and not all claimants are satisfied with how the money has been used. A number have joined with a tribal headman and instigated legal action against the project, asking for their portion of the grant back. However, both of these have been addressed, at least to some extent, through a strong participatory process. Although it has been time-consuming, involving the local residents in all steps of the project has ensured the support of the majority, and has also meant that they have a sense of ownership over the project. Also, as people began to see that the project was effective and was resulting in positive developments for the entire village, more began to support it. The number of people supporting the legal action against the project has dropped.

Other problems have been mainly political. The project may well face funding difficulties after 2009, as government departments may begin to move their funding elsewhere. Because the project has received so much funding over the past few years, many have come to say that the area is “privileged”, and does not deserve any further interventions or money. One way to address this has been to try to ensure that as many of the initiatives as possible are self-sustaining by the end of 2009, so that fewer of them need external funding. The irrigation scheme was already self-sustaining by 2007, while money raised through sale of vegetables was invested back into the project. A bank account has also been opened for these monies, and is currently being managed by BRC and the CPA. It is hoped that the forestry and tourism initiatives will begin to cover their own costs in the near future. There has also been some unhappiness from local residents that land claims by other neighbouring villages resulted in larger restitution grants (R50 000 for each claimant, as opposed to R31 000). Efforts are now being made to persuade the government to re-evaluate Cata’s case by the same standards as other villages, and adjust the compensation accordingly.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
The initial funding for the project came from the land restitution grant paid out by government. 50% of the amount (around R31 000) was paid out to each of 334 claimants, and the other 50% was placed in a fund to be used for development projects. When the development projects began in 2003, R5.3m was still available from the original fund for use. The estimated total cost for the project is R31m; and R10m had been spent by 2007. BRC also carried out continuous and effective fundraising, managing to attract funding from numerous donors. 75% of the funding thus far has come from national and international NGOs, including Africa Groups of Sweden, Misereor, Hivos, and the North-South Institute. The National Development Agency provided a further 14% of the funding; and the National Lottery Distribution Fund provided the remaining 11%. A municipal infrastructure grant was approved to pay for the construction of chalets to boost tourism; while the Department of Education provided funding specifically to pay for the renovation and building of classrooms. The irrigation project has already become self-sustaining, earning from R800 – R1200 a day; while it is hoped that other projects will become self-sustaining in the future.

In terms of technical resources, a number of groups provided training or skills-development, including Ground Zero (soil conservation); Earth Innovations (crop production and management, soil conservation); and Birdlife South Africa. DWAF also selected Cata as its pilot site for the construction of water tanks in former homelands; while the Department of Labour provided training to local youth in professional construction. The BRC supplies the majority of the funding for the project, and both the Managing Director and Programme Manager are BRC employees. ADM manages the funds and administration of the project; while the CPA coordinates and manages the project on a day-to-day basis in the village. A member of the CPA sits on the BRC board. The PSC has representatives from the local community, and from project planning groups.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The project had secure funding until the end of 2012. By 2007, enough money had been raised to ensure that almost none of the original R5.3m from the land restitution claim money had been used for the project. Funds had also been invested, which helped to generate additional income for the project. The irrigation scheme has also become self-sustaining, and a number of other projects (including the forestry and tourism initiatives) will hopefully be sustainable by the end of 2012. The more projects that become self-supporting, the better the chances for the Cata project development to remain financially sustainable into the future.

The CPA has begun to take progressive ownership of the initiative over time, with the aim being for them to run the project completely in the future. This increases the chances that the project will remain institutionally sustainable, as it will rely less on external bodies for implementation. The project also aims to make the socio-economic interventions sustainable, by providing job-skills and livelihood development opportunities for local residents. People in the community have been trained in different skills (including construction, forestry and irrigation), which enables them to obtain further employment in the future. By improving the infrastructure and services in the village, the project has contributed to food security and sustainable livelihoods. The irrigation scheme has provided a source of income for those running it, as well as enabling numerous people in the village to begin growing vegetables, both for subsistence, and as a source of income.

It was always intended for the Cata project to be a test case for other villages in the region, and across the country. The aim was to see if land restitution grants could be used by communities for development projects, rather than simply paying out amounts to individual claimants. Paying out a land restitution grant with 50% going to claimants, and 50% to development projects was also an experiment for government; and if it proved successful, would be continued in other areas. Nine other villages in the area had received similar compensation on the same conditions as Cata by 2007; and there is currently a campaign encouraging all villages in the Ciskei and Transkei to apply for similar grants. A similar development programme has already been established in Keiskammahoek, although it was initiated too recently to be able to accurately determine its success yet.

Replication would require significant community and political buy-in to be successful, and a long process of negotiation and planning would probably need to take place first. A large amount of funding would also need to be accessed to be able to carry out development on the same scale as in Cata; as well as a group to conduct the planning and implementation of the interventions. Cata has also had the benefit of significant external interest and funding as the pilot project, and it is hard to predict if other projects would be able to generate as much attention.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The project has had significant poverty alleviation benefits, including providing a large number of temporary jobs for local residents; developing or renovating the infrastructure in the village; and providing opportunities for sustainable livelihoods and empowerment. Although not everyone has received direct employment through the project, a number of people have received skills training; and have been provided with the potential to access an income in the future. This includes those who can now grow vegetable gardens to sell produce thanks to the new irrigation scheme; and those who can offer accommodation to tourists thanks to the building of local tourist attractions. The irrigation scheme has also meant that vegetables are more easily and cheaply available in the village than in the past, while the upgraded roads mean that people (and businesses) are able to travel in and out more easily. This also applies to people needing to access services which are not available in the village (eg. Medical services).

The main lesson to be learnt is that land restitution grants can be used for broader development projects within communities, but that this will require extensive discussion and negotiation with local community members. Even with significant negotiation, not all community members will necessarily agree with the initiative, but the more participatory the process the more people will come on board. However, planning such initiatives is not easy, even with community buy-in. The BRC has played a major fund-raising and planning role in the project, and this has significantly contributed to its success. The project has also shown that wide-ranging and holistic development projects can make a significant impact on a community, even in very rural and inaccessible areas. It also proves that land restitution can be a major driver in developing social capital.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Border Rural Committee
Institution Type:   Public Organization  
Contact Person:   Ashley Westaway
Title:   Managing Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   +27 43 742 0173
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   16 St. George’s Road
Postal Code:   5201
City:   East London
State/Province:   Eastern Cape
Country:   South Africa

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