Etshaneni Vegetable Gardens

Project located in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Project focused on Health & Nutrition

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In the communities of Mange and Tshanani, bordering Thanda Game Reserve to the north, many families live in very basic conditions. Often devastated by the effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, parents struggle to support their own children, unable to feed, clothe or educate them. A dire lack of services and opportunities in the area makes it extremely difficult for local people to lift themselves out of poverty. As a result, the area has an unemployment rate of 80%.
Nutrition in the area is extremely poor. People rely on very basic foodstuffs such as porridge made from maize meal. There is little variety in their diet, leaving children and adults alike malnourished and in poor health.

The Etshaneni community has been planning to set up a vegetable garden for a number of years. The community has already selected and prepared the land in preparation for the planting of vegetables. However, before the crops can be planted, the land needs to be properly fenced off so that the garden will be secure and to prevent grazing cattle from damaging the crops. Access to a reliable water source is also needed.

The project aims to support a group of 30 women who will tend the garden. The women’s families’ nutrition and health will be greatly improved by the inclusion of vegetables in their diets. The long term aim is for the women to run the vegetable garden as a small business, selling surplus produce to neighbouring communities, crèches, and even local supermarkets. This will not only improve the health of the local communities, but also empower the women.

The Happy Africa Foundation will work in conjunction with the local community committee to properly fence the area and to secure a reliable water source for irrigation. This project will followed three stages:

Stage One:
The first stage will be to fence the area, so that animals cannot damage the crops. Once the area is fenced and gate posts have been built, a security guard will be employed by the community to keep the area secure.

Stage Two:
The next step will be to fix a water pump to the adjoining electrical wire and bore hole so that water can be pumped up to the garden. A generator will also be fitted for when electricity is not available.

Stage Three:
Seeds and seedlings will then need to be sourced, either from the Department of Agriculture or from local agricultural offices. Profit made from selling the vegetables will first be put back into the purchasing of more seeds in order to ensure the sustainability of the project. The women will be trained in how best to manage their crops as well as how to run a small business. This will improve their chances of sustainable commercial success.

Short Term Impact:
This project is community run. The vegetables will provide the local crèche, school and community with fresh produce, thereby improving overall health and nutrition in the area.

Long Term Impact:
Once the garden is well established, the women will have the opportunity to sell their vegetables to local supermarkets. This will empower the women and potentially even create more jobs for others. All profits from produce sales will be put back into the garden to buy more seeds, ensuring the sustainability of the project.

The province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) in South Eastern South Africa borders the countries of Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland. As its name suggests, it is the birthplace of the proud Zulu nation. Still ruled by the Zulu royal family, the rural areas of KZN maintain a very traditional way of life. Sadly, the population of KwaZulu-Natal has been devastated by the effects of poverty and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. A staggering 40.2% of people in the province are estimated to be infected with HIV, and about 10% of these have full-blown AIDS.

The Happy Africa Foundation has two projects in KZN; one in the coastal town of St. Lucia and one in the rural district of Umkhanyakude, in and around Thanda Game Reserve.

Umkhanyakude

According to the District Health Barometer, the Umkhanyakude district is ranked as one of the two most deprived districts in South Africa. This is calculated using a combination of indicators including unemployment rates, access to piped water and electricity, low education levels and female-headed households with high numbers of children.

The district has an unemployment rate of approximately 48%. There is limited access to education, health services and income generation projects. Unlike many areas in South Africa, there are very few NGOs operating in the area.

Thanks to many generous donations, the fencing is done in Etshaneni Vegetable Garden! The fence was erected in February/March of 2014, with the help of THAF staff as well as volunteers from our partners at African Impact. The ladies from the community were planting sugar beans on 70% of the total surface of the garden. It now boasts more than 2.5 hectares of potential vegetable harvesting!
Work is still being done alongside community members and committees to ensure continued and sustainable source of water through a local borehole. The community is very excited, incredibly committed and determined for this project to succeed. For us to support them in this way is wonderful.

The community would like to thank everyone for their continued support on this amazing project!