Rural Sustainable Villages in the CHDM
Chris hani District Municipality
South Africa

The Problem

Three Crowns Junior Secondary School is situated in the Lady Frere district of the Eastern Cape and forms part of the jurisdiction area of the Chris Hani District Municipality. This very rural school services the surrounding community where there is a serious lack of services (reticulated water, electricity, sanitation) in many of the households.
Typical of many South African rural communities, the school forms a nucleus for learning-through-doing and social interaction within the whole community. It therefore is pertinent that sustainability projects would begin, and grow, from local school life.
The school becomes an excellent vehicle for change projects to be implemented, proven and adopted by the surrounding community. This makes for an ideal situation for school-to-community empowerment in the form of a sustainability commons; which began to establish an array of alternative energy technologies and other systems to support sustainability in a rural context.
The alternative energy designs are simple, effective and easy to replicate and many are built from any material readily available. Some of the examples are the usual tried-and-tested renewable energy designs with which most people are familiar with; while the later technologies have become more sophisticated and deliver an integrated approach to sustainability, social interaction, and environmental integrity.
The sustainability commons grew though support from the Chris Hani District Municipality and the ESKOM Energy and Sustainability Programme.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
Main aim of the project was to create a sustainable concept were a village or establishment can become totally self sustainable through the use of innovative technologies
The following Technologies were implemented at the School to develop an integrated system addressing the following needs:
Implementation of a Blue Print for Rural Sustainability Commons within the Chris Hani District Municipality.
Main aim of the project was to create a sustainable concept were
1. Sanitation - Development of a gray water capturing system were water from the hand wash basins are diverted to the toilets for flushing. These actions are also further strengthened by the Environmental Health Practitioners involvement in Health and Hygiene education to the children.
2. Food gardening - The food garden was establish to supply organic vegetables to the learners in the School. Children are actively involved in the maintanence of the garden. Furthermore the garden provides organic material for the production of furtilizer throough wormy culture. The furtilizer is organis as well as a natural insect repalent that safeguard the plants form investation by pests.
3. Green House - A Greenhouse was built from recycled plastic bottles and are used for the cultivation of seedlings for the garden,
An important aspect of being able to ascertain whether the implemented technologies and practices are performing the tasks they were intended to perform is through an effective monitoring and evaluation programme. The programme team has implemented a strategy to monitor and evaluate the programme on a continuous basis in order to gauge successes and highlight areas of concern. This strategy has three main components: Annual Evaluation:
The annual evaluation is conducted during December of each year. The aim of this component is to be able to identify the trends developing around the schools management structures, how the programme is being adopted by the school/community and how community involvement is increasing or decreasing.
The evaluation is conducted through an interview based system involving the school leadership, teachers, the school governing body members, learners and the school support staff. The main aspects addressed by this process are water use patterns, electricity consumption, agricultural productivity, waste regime and community involvement.
Continuous Monitoring:
This process is conducted by the schools on a continuous basis. The main purpose of this aspect is to be able to track the trends around how the programme is impacting either positively or negatively on the school/community.
The system is designed to be run as an exception reporting system with data only being recorded when things happen – for instance records will be kept for when the reticulated water system is switched off and switched back on again. If the water is not switched off for the duration of the year, no records need be kept. The system was conceived in this fashion so as to minimize the amount of effort that needs to go into the record keeping.
Data being collected for this aspect are; water (when the taps are shut off and turned on), energy (when the bio-gas runs out, when LPG is purchased), waste (how much is burned, how much is recycled) and agricultural productivity (how much is harvested, how much goes to the feed scheme, how much is given to the needy and how much is sold). As this process is run by the school/communities themselves the details are not rigorously maintained. The project team is, however, able to track trends from one year to the next.
Evaluation Report:
At certain intervals it is crucial to be able to critically reflect on how the project is impacting on the lives of those that are directly impacted by the project. Thus, an evaluation report is compiled at these intervals.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The solution was proposed as part of a joint initiative between, DBSA, WESSA, Chris Hani District Municipality as part of a pilot project that form part of the development and implementation of an Environmental Management System for the Chris Hani District Municipality and its Locals.
Breakdown of Contributors:
3. Chris Hani District Municipality
4. Department of Education - Lady Frere Sub District
5. CES
6. Peoples Power Africa
7. Finishes of Nature
8. AGAMA Energy

(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.
Strategy: Implementation of sustainability-focused technologies, tools and learning; whose resources are deployed locally for the benefit of the community and the environment.
Objective1 : Greenhouse and Shadehouse
• To grow seedlings and cuttings overwinter (greenhouse)
• To shade growing plants in mid-summer (shadehouse)
• To have a ready supply of seedlings for community use (communities situated far from towns)
• Vermiculture farms overwinter in greenhouse (too cold outdoors for the worms)
• To have on-site practical demonstration of propagation techniques
Objective 2: Solar Energy Technology
• Because of their efficiency, and the ability to boil water in 15 minutes, the parabolic cooker is perfect for demonstration and placement in community facilities.
• Sun-stoves reduce health problems associated with smoke inhalation
• Sun-stoves save on other fast-depleting energy resources such as wood
• Solar water heaters allow the use of hot water for washing (especially in winter)

Objective 3: Eco-Circles and Food Garden
• To promote sound environmental principals
• Conserve water
• Organic waste recycling
• Promote quality nutrition
Objective 4: Vermi-culture/Vermi-Composting
• To encourage community gardeners for organic farming practice and supply vermin compost as rich manure.
• Solid waste management using vermin composting.
• Mass awareness and information dissemination.
Objective 5: Integrated Biogas Technology
• Biogas energy for cooking;
• Pathogen free bio fertilizer for the garden;
• Pathogen free water for aquaculture and reuse as irrigation;
• Create a demonstrable and educational example of zero waste environmental biotechnology.
Objective 6: Hybrid Solar/Wind Energy
• The Sustainability Commons can supply all its own energy needs (specifically for electronic equipment)
• Community batteries can be charged by the system for use in homes
All the above was established and developed by the project team and implemented by the Chris Hani District Municipality ( Environmental Health) as well as WESSA

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
1. Development of Concept.
Project team developed the Sustainability Commons principal to ensure full utilization of resources within the blue print and ensure sound Environmental and Health Principals are adhered to and skills and knowledge transfer to the community are ensured.

2. Cost analysis
Cost analysis was conducted to determine the financial viability of the proposed project. Detailed breakdown of all components was established to facilitate the budget request.
3. Submission of budget to Council / Project steering Committee
The detailed budget was tabled and approved by the PSC and Council to ensure sound financial principals are adhered to and the necessary budget are available for implementation.
4. Community Participation
Community Meeting were conducted to ensure buy - in of all affected parties. All aspects of the project were explained and benefits to the community was highlighted.
Mandate from community was given to implement.
5. Site establishment and procurement.
After all approvals the equipment and system components was procured through SCM processes. Project implementation plans were drawn up and Project Manager monitored the progress through site visits and weekly meetings.
6. Site handover.
After completion all technologies were tested and skills transfer on all aspects was conducted. The project was formally launched in partnership with all role-players.
7. Monitoring and Evaluation.
Project is continuously monitored by the District Municipality and WESSA.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The main obstacle was the understanding from Political side what we want to achieve. We moved away from the norms set by Local Government for example relating to Sanitation. This was however easily overcome due to the success of the project and the National as well as International recognition the project received in addressing various service delivery, energy and climate change issues.
Funding for the project roll - out was also a challenge but the persistence of the project team to market the project is bearing fruits and National as well as Local Government is putting money for further roll - outs in the next financial year.

(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
Resources: Mostly financial and Technical, will describe below:
Financial: Financial resources were mobilized through the Chris Hani District Municipality as well as DBSA for the pilot phase of the project. All system components, designs and technologies were paid for through the project budget. Resources were mobilized through motivations to Council and the PSC.
Technical: The project steering Committee consisted of the following Technical Skills:
* Project Management
* Financial Management
* Community Developement
* Structural Engineering
* Educational Specialist
* Environmental Health Specialists
* Environmental Management Specialist
* Waste Management Specialist
* Community leaders
Human resources: These components include the technical specialist as well. In terms of the structural design and building of certain system components the learners at the School as well as community members were involved
Costs: R 600 000.00
Resource mobilization:
Resources was mobilized through the project budget and donations from private individuals

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The District Municipality and WESSA are continuously involved within the project. The food garden provides and income for the school that is used for maintenance.
The Department of Education also included a maintenance budget for the project and a MOU was concluded in this regard.
The cost saving in terms of energy is approximately R 2500.00 - R 300 00.00 a month and these funds are also ploughed back into maintenance and repairs of the system.
All components of the system are incorporated in the Curriculum of the School. This brought a major mind sift change within the learners ad their parents and there is a definite change in behaviour patterns regarding water, waste and energy.
The project is operating without any external intervention from CHDM and WESSA and no major challenges are experienced. The success of the project and its recognition on various platforms has lead to the commitment of Government and the District Municipality for financial support.
The project is currently been replicated in an additional 3 sites and will move to a village concept in this financial year.
An amount of R 2 million has been allocated by the Council for roll - out. National Government has also placed the project on the National priority list and will receive funding in the 2011/2012 financial year.
After COP 17, various discussions took place with Sector Departments and the project was approved in principal to be tabled to Parliament for role out in the Eastern Cape.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
9. What are the impacts of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The project ensured sustainability through the use of innovations. The project is self sustainable and provides the project participants with:
1. Free energy - Wind / Solar / Biogas
2. Waste recycling facilities
3. Water reclamation
4. Wormy culture facilities
5. Hydroponic facilities
6 Flush Toilets
7. Learning
8. Green house
The integration of all components ensured sustainability within the project. All resources entering the system stay within the system, and are utilized to its optimum.
The project and its benefits ensure that the blueprint can be replicated to ensure sustainable villages within the rural setup within the DM as well as in Africa when replicated.
System components are cheap and address major resource challenges for Government in providing basic services to communities in rural villages. The involvement of learners and the community contributed to the success of the initiative.
The establishment of strong partnerships has been a major contributing factor in the success of the project.
The understanding of what we want to achieve and the benefits to our communities is increasingly been recognised by various role-players and the awards received by this project is a definite indication of the potential to change the lives of our rural people and address, Health, environmental and climate change impacts that can be mitigated and adapted to at a very local level.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Chris hani District Municipality
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Francois Nel
Title:   Assistant Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   045 808 4600/ 082 490 8307
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Private Bag x7121
Postal Code:   5320
City:   Queenstown
State/Province:   Eastern Cape
Country:   South Africa

          Go Back

Print friendly Page