CAPE TOWN: Water activists in rural and urban areas can learn from one another in spite of their geographic differences, since they face many similar challenges particularly when dealing with municipalities on water service delivery issues.

Reporting on the outcome on the Western Cape Water Caucus (WCWC) quarterly meeting, regional coordinator Thabo Lusithi said the August 15 gathering was an important opportunity for rural and urban water activists in the province to share knowledge and build stronger relationships ahead of the national South African Civil Society Water Caucus meeting scheduled for this September.

KHAYELITSHA, CAPE TOWN: The Makhaza Wetland and Food Growers – the newly minted name for a loose collective of activists who have been working in their Khayelitsha community in recent years – will spend much of next week conducting an ‘asset audit’ to see how they can build on their existing skills, physical assets and social networks. 

This is part of a community-led development approach, hosted by non-governmental organisation the Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG), which has been working with the community since 2010.

‘During the course, we will take a look at five areas where the community has different kinds of assets,’ explains EMG’s Thabang Ngcozela. ‘We’ll look at what level of education there is within the group, what their knowledge and skills are. We’ll do an audit of the natural resources in the area, such as the Makhaza wetland, and river, the land in their community and the park.’

Thirdly, the group will do an inventory of their social assets, for instance what kinds of service organisations, sports clubs or funeral groups might be active in the community. Next will be an assessment of the built environment – for instance what homes, halls, roads, and services are present in Makhaza.

‘Finally we’ll try to quantify their financial assets. Where do people get their money from, is it from government grants or from an employer or do they earn from their own business?’

Ngcozela, who also lives in the community, says an asset-based community development approach like this is an alternative model for development.

‘Instead of looking for the needs and the gaps within the community, and at the different problems, and then building programmes around how to solve those problems, we do an inventory of all the social, economic, knowledge and infrastructural assets within the community. Then we see how we can build on those assets.’

EMG will host the workshop process from Monday 26 August to Friday 30 August.

For more information, contact:

 Thabang Ngcozela

Tel: 021 448 2881

Cell: 078 803 4321

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

WESTERN CAPE: The small fishing community of Buffeljagsbaai, near Hermanus on the Cape south coast, is about as obscure as the sea snail that the locals have been harvesting here for generations.

But for a group of entrepreneurial women here, the ‘alikreuk’ – the South African turban sea snail or the alikreukel (Turbo sarmaticus) – is more than just a chewy sea creature to skewer on the end of a fishing hook, which is how the government sees it. They want to make a living out of pickling it, or making alikreuk frikadels and soups. For them, it’s a local delicacy which they believe they can woo passing tourists and maybe even find an export Chinese market.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA: Organic rooibos tea farmers of the Heiveld Cooperative from Nieuwoudtville in the Northern Cape have a quandary. These emerging farmers produce a boutique product that’s ethically and environmentally sound. But to reach their international markets, they have to ship the tea great distances, which racks up ‘air miles’ and gives the product a big carbon footprint.

Ideally, they’d like to tap into a market here in South Africa, one that’s prepared to pay a premium for tea that’s been grown in a way that treads lightly on the environment, while also benefiting poor black farmers. Reaching this kind of local market would also help absorb some of their produce as international sales dip in the wake of the global recession.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA: Every story needs a hero. And when you’re working in non-fiction, it has to be a real hero. But for a group of Cape Town storytellers, they’re almost spoiled for choice amongst a group of dynamic water activists in a ‘township’ on the outskirts of the Mother City. Here’s how they muddled through this classic writer’s dilemma.

They call it the umfudo, the ‘tortoise’, because it hides inside its shell: the blue, flat-topped water management device, sunk into the ground outside many homes in low income communities in Cape Town. Every day, it measures out the family’s municipally-allocated 350 litres of free daily water.

PIKETBERG, SOUTH AFRICA: Vegetable gardeners in a mountainous nook in the Swartland, two hours’ drive north of Cape Town, are part of a groundbreaking study where scientists are trying to fine-tune global climate and water models into something useful for smallscale farmers. The results have been surprising for farmers and scientists alike.

Right from the start, the vegetable gardeners of the remote Goedverwacht mission village, in the mountains near Piketberg, said they had a good idea of what the greatest threats were to their survival as small farmers: the dense infestation of Port Jackson wattle, an alien invasive tree from Australia with a ravenous appetite for water, which grows prolifically on the banks of their only irrigation source, the Platkloof River. And the high irrigation needs of neighbouring commercial farmers.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA: Global environmental activist group, WWF, recently teamed up with the national broadcaster to host a discussion on the price of water. Because the Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG), an Untold Stories partner, operates at the coalface of social justice issues relating to accessing and pricing water, the group’s Jessica Wilson responded with this thoughtful piece, published in the weekly national paper, the Mail & Guardian


Water has no price. Deprived of water for long enough, you’d give everything – literally – for a sip, to save your life. For some, ‘everything’ is the wealth of nations; others have nothing material to give.

Government is relooking at water pricing, particularly for the bulk users – industry, agriculture and municipalities. Water is currently too cheap, they argue, and because of this, we use too much and are wasteful. This is quite probably true at a bulk-level, certainly for industrial water users. But as we look at domestic water, things get a little more complex.

KING WILLIAM’S TOWN: Farmers from eight villages in the Ngqushwa municipality will meet with representatives of the provincial Ministry of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, at the launch of the Ward One Farmers’ Association at Eteyni village, 60km south of King William’s Town this Friday, 17 May.

The Ward One Farmers’ Association grew out of the need for greater cooperation amongst smallscale farmers in the Eastern Cape as they grapple with the challenges of accessing markets, dealing with stock theft, and improving their skills in alternative farming methods.

‘Farmers needed a collective space to share experiences, and a common platform to address their concerns to government,’ explains Thabang Ngcozela, with the Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG). EMG has been working with the Ngqushwa community to tackle critical water needs in recent years.

The association represents the needs of farmers across eight wards within the Ngqushwa municipal region. EMG has worked with these farmers to deal with issues of drought and water scarcity, and climate change, as well as help train farmers in permaculture methods. 

‘Now, with the Farmers’ Association, we can start to look closely at issues of market access, creating secondary agricultural industries here in the community, and setting up farmer cooperatives,’ says Ngcozela.

The launch will be attended by representatives of the Minister of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, as well as by municipal representatives and local farmers.


Ward One Farmers’ Association Launch:

When:  9am, Friday, 17 May 2013

                Where: Community Hall, Etyeni Village, Eastern Cape


For more information:

Mr Thabang Ngcozela

Project Manager: Water Justice Programme with the Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG)

Cell: 078 803 4321


Mr Ngxobongwana

Ministry of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform

Cell: 073 836 5163


Mr Lindikhaya Ngwendu

Deputy Secretary: Ward One Farmers’ Association

Cell: 073 697 4502