permaculture Archives - SASDI Alliance

“We Build Ourselves” – FEDUP Permaculture Exchange 2014

By CORC, FEDUP, uTshani Fund No Comments

By Nozuko Fulani (on behalf of FEDUP)*

We are Siyazakha Savings Group. We are a group of 26 members and first started to meet in 2010 in Siyahlala informal settlement in Philippi, Cape Town, where I live. We decided to form the savings group when we got introduced to the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP). It was during a time that we were stuck on private land and did not know how to start organising ourselves. The savings group was a good way for us to improve conditions for ourselves and for our settlement. We chose the name ‘Siyazakha’ because it means ‘to build ourselves’. The name was my idea – it reminds us that we are the only ones who can build our families and ourselves. This is why we save.


Visiting permaculture gardens at Makhaza Day Care Centre


Nozuko Fulani

Over the years we have been saving towards different things. Some savings are long term and others are short term. This winter, for example, we are saving for paraffin heaters. Every member is going to save R150 from which we want to buy 3 heaters every month. We use long-term savings for things like school uniforms and groceries. This is a strong support because we don’t have to worry about taking loans. At the moment we have 15 active members and many new members joining, especially older mamas who are the most energetic.

As a savings group we also have a permaculture garden in my yard. I helped to develop this garden after I became a permaculture trainer in 2013 through uTshani Fund and FEDUP. At this time FEDUP and uTshani Fund introduced Project Permaculture as a new income generation and skills programme into the Alliance. Project Permaculture taught us the skills we need to grow fruit and vegetables. By growing our own food and reselling it, the permaculture gardens help us to make sure that we have enough food and can even make an income.  Many gardens are in crèches and day care centres. (Read this blog for more background on Project Permaculture.)


Mama Darkie from Makhaza hosts the first day of the exchange


Clearing the Grass


Preparing the Soil

Three of us from Siyazakha savings group decided to do a permaculture exchange at Masizame savings group in Makhaza (Cape Town) from 24-26 May 2014. We chose Masizame savings group because we heard that many members were no longer active.  Mama Jim, Thembiso and I went around door-to-door and managed to collect 5 women from Masizame savings group for the exchange.

On the first day we explained that permaculture is about using all available materials and that there is no need to use chemicals or to buy anything. Permaculture believes that before you start with the garden you must design it and check up on things like rainfall and wind direction. Permaculture also uses the idea of mixing the vegetables we plant. This means that we plant onions and garlic next to spinach – because these plants chase away insects. It is also important to alternate the seeds between plants that grow above and below the ground.

On day two we went straight to the vegetable gardens at Makhaza Day Care Centre. As we were gardening I showed the women how to prepare the soil by using old grass called mulch and layering it with water and old food. This makes the soil fertile. We also cleaned some vegetable beds and replanted seedlings. We learnt by using what we can see and touch.

On the last day the women said that they were very excited because permaculture gardening is a method that they know from home. Through the permaculture exchange they could see how alive a savings group can be. If you see that something is happening and that a group is active, it is very motivating. The ladies were so excited that they collected some money to buy spinach, cabbage and herb seedlings for their own garden. They decided that now they wanted to meet as a savings group every Tuesday to catch up on the meetings they had missed.

*Photos taken by Nozuko Fulani, blog compiled by Yolande Hendler (on behalf of CORC)


Day Care Centre in Makhaza


FEDUP and uTshani Fund introduce ‘Project Permaculture’

By FEDUP, uTshani Fund No Comments

By Barbara Torresi (on behalf of uTshani Fund)

f. Trainers Site Visit November 2013

While the provision of housing to the poorest of the poor remains uTshani Fund’s main objective, it has become increasingly indisputable that, to be effective and for its effects to be long-lasting, the fight against a multifactoral phenomenon like poverty must take place on multiple fronts. This is particularly true in metropolitan areas, where shelter is but one of the necessities that the surging masses of rural-to-urban migrants are in short supply of. With dwindling job opportunities, even the satisfaction of a fundamental human need like adequate nutrition has become uncertain, as has the achievement of the well-being determinants (education, employment, health) that normally cascade from access to a balanced diet.

To use a practical example, when children are undernourished their learning ability suffers, and so does their capacity to stay in school in the face of more pressing concerns such as putting bread on the family table. Similarly, malnutrition renders adults susceptible to a host of chronic ailments, which can dramatically decrease their opportunities to secure  or keep a job in an already crowded employment market. And the lower people’s income, the worse their diet – a vicious circle that exemplifies the sinister self-replicating nature of dependency and economic deprivation.

i.  2nd week training Group 2 photos.5docx

Second week of training












It was with all of the above in mind that uTshani Fund and Fedup began to look at ways to work poverty alleviation measures such as income generation and skills training into the Alliance’s saving and upgrading rituals. A perfect opportunity to tackle more than one issue at once – and therefore to reap the benefits of synergic action – was seized by uTshani in June 2013, when the organisation won a grant by the South African National Lottery to teach informal settlement dwellers, and in particular women and other vulnerable individuals, the skills required to grow fruit and vegetables right at their doorstep. Since it provides participants with the ability to cultivate fresh produce for both their own consumption and resale in local markets, the program offers the dual advantage of addressing the issue of food security together with that of the chronic lack of income generating opportunities in the townships.

In actual fact, the scope of Project Permaculture is even larger, since the establishment of horticultural gardens in day-care centres is enabling Fedup and uTshani to not only create sustainable job opportunities in deprived communities, but also to provide education for children in disadvantaged areas, to improve the health of the urban poor, to enhance the physical environment in which slum dwellers live, to teach children from a young age the value of working with nature, and to pilot a livelihood program that can be replicated in other Federation groups.

In other words, Project Permaculture is a sustainable and scalable strategy that targets some of the major issues currently affecting the country’s most deprived urban areas.

d. 1st week training Group 1 photos


From a practical point of view the project, which is run by uTshani Fund’s partner Rucore and is currently in its concluding stages, started in October 2013 and took place in various settlements of the Eastern Cape (Queenstown and Port Elizabeth), Western Cape (Mossel Bay, Khayelitsha, Philippi), Gauteng (Garuankua, Nigel, Soweto, Orange Farm), and the North West (Oukasie and Hartebees). Training was divided into two phases. The first phase consisted of a six day workshop during which starter packs containing the required materials (spades, hosepipes, fencing, water tanks, shade nets, gutters, compost, manure, fruit trees, seeding trays, herbs, seeds, and posters) were handed out to the beneficiaries. After participants were given a chance to put in practice what they had learnt and to get their gardens started, Rucore conducted a second six day training session in January 2013 to troubleshoot problems and fine-tune skills.

To date, 54 Fedup members (43 of which women) have been directly capacitated by the permaculture program, but in reality the enterprise’s indirect benefits are farther reaching, since it is estimated that between 250 and 300 individuals will take advantage of the improved diets and larger incomes that the workshop attendees will be able to secure through the monetisation of their new skills. As one woman put it,

“What I learned will help my sons grow into strong and healthy adults with the ability to look after their own families and children”.

So here is proof, if any was needed, that not only poverty but also ingenuous ways to mitigate this scourge can, with the help of commitment and organisation, become powerful self-replicating forces.

Group picture at first week of training

Group picture at first week of training