Witzenberg Local Municipality Institutional Profile

Date: September 3, 2013
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“The seeds we plant today also grow with us- we must plant good seeds”

Witzenberg Local Municipality is one of the COE Councils based in the Western Cape; the council joined the process in 2010. Prior to having joined the COE process, the council had formulated a Local Economic Development Plan. Further to the plan that was developed the council initiated a Community Work Project (CWP)

The objective of the project was to advise the community of Witzenberg in the formulation of a local economic development strategy and to assist in facilitating the conclusion of a social compact between all relevant stakeholders toward the implementation of that strategy. The council has been able to set up various projects and initiatives which aim to eradicate poverty and link members of the community to economic opportunities, many of the beneficiaries have been women.

Witzenberg Municipality is located approximately 150 kilometres north-east of Cape Town. The district is a large fruit producer and is one of the main contributors to the sustainability of the surrounding areas. Witzenberg Municipality also serves the community of Hamlet, a community mainly affected by poverty and unemployment, which possessed a patch of open space used for illegal dumping. The CWP project was implemented in the area of Hamlet, and there was a team of women and men assembled to plant vegetation, and food gardens in the community of Hamlet whilst also creating a recreational space for the community.

The “Hamlet Walkway” as it is known is an area which was identified by the council as being unsafe in the past the area was used as a dumping ground. This not also posed as a health issue however it also posed as a safety hazard, with poor lighting it became the perfect breeding ground for criminal elements. Witzenberg Municipality implemnedt the Community Work Programme in the Hamlet Community, sourced community members to implement the project and proceeded to design and construct a well-lit pedestrian path, with well-trimmed lawns and blossoming flower beds. The development of the walkway created employment and additional skills for the residents in a community which is subject to seasonal employment, lasting only six months of the year. The LED and climate change element of the COE process also assisted Witzenberg Municipality to strengthen their own LED policies and key beneficiaries within the community.

Witzenberg Municipality has been keen in implementing the COE process and also ensuring that impact is created at local level, the key focus of the council has been their LED. The COE process has also assisted with guiding the council to formulate interventions with a social imperative on the one hand and those with a self-sustaining economic developmental imperative on the other.

The main challenges with the CWP project has been that it has been difficult for people to be retained within the project, as the workers are paid a nominal stipend by the council. In some cases workers leave the project to seek full time employment women have been the main beneficiaries in the project, and linking women to other economic opportunities has been challenging at times, due to the multiple roles that women play within the Witzenberg community.

Funding and sustainability of these projects has also been a major challenge there is an allocated council budget, which is meant to be spread across the various departments,
The capacity particularly of emergent organisations rooted in the disadvantaged communities to participate in LED and other planning processes in Witzenberg is limited and requires support and nurturing. National government generally is not well-placed to provide such support and the support of LED within local government to a full extent, the council has forged relationships with the private sector and other business initiatives to assist with addressing the challenges faced within the council.

The implementation of the CWP Project has assisted Witzenberg Municipality to implement their LED plan whilst also promoting the livelihood of communities. The COE process has also assisted the council to be able to identify beneficiaries for these opportunities, as well as encouraging the council to develop projects that will assist women to gain access to economic empowerment. The council has also started to maintain and develop a database of all unemployed women, and linking them up opportunities and initiatives that will assist them. Although the council has allocated resources for certain initiatives, implementations of these have been guided by the Gender Action Plan that was developed as part of the COE process. The plan has acted as a guidance and reference point and also ensuring activities and projects are costed.

The CWP had changed the lives of local women who have benefitted from being part of the initiative, by greening their environment, and also creating a safer space for their communities. The CWP project has also had a positive influence on the life of Christina Saunders who had also participated in a Gender Links workshop. ” The CWP Project has helped me in my life, The seeds we plant today also grow with us- we must plant good seeds” For the residents of Hamlet being part of a community means more than just a geographical location, but comprises of qualities such as pride, enjoyment and a sense of connection enjoyment to their environment. Witzenberg Municipality has created a legacy through the CWP initiative to create the Hamlet Walkway; this walkway project has helped the community as well as the council to assist with the development of Hamlet. Whilst also ensuring that job opportunities are created encouraging the community members and women as beneficiaries to areas to reach their full potential.




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