This was a planning project for a 3,5 ha tract of land, which was previously an Apartheid era buffer strip, but is now zoned for agriculture. Some 50 allotments of 400 m2 each were proposed together with a Farmers Support Centre and 500 homestead gardens within the surrounding communities.
Following the successful preparation of the Development Concept Plan for the Amaoti Organic Farming Project, the Greater Durban Community Foundation (GDCF), which is an NGO operating on behalf of the eThekwini Municipality, again appointed me to prepare a holistic agricultural development plan to augment the adjacent Bhambayi Housing Project in order to address the need for food security and local economic development in the area. The GDCF realised the need for this plan in order to co-ordinate various municipal and government departments to deliver in a holistic manner a sustainable community based agricultural development project. To this end, a Development Concept Plan was prepared for how the physical and institutional support components could be implemented in a sustainable manner.
The design process followed the same process as for the Amaoti Organic Farming Project, especially since the client stakeholder group was satisfied with the Amaoti plan and in particular, the proposed allotment scheme. This design process was only for the planning phase as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1 - Design Process
The Development Context obtained base mapping information and confirmed that the project area had been reserved for urban agriculture to support the Bhambayi Housing Project. The Site Analysis identified the physical design challenges, such as, the steep slopes with underlying tillite bedrock; sandy loam and clay soils in the project valley which is prone to swamp conditions; the borrow pit on the highest part of the site; and, the swampy area above the temporary construction causeway.
The Site Design Concepts outlined how to mitigate against the physical site challenges and incorporated these designs within the overall rainwater harvesting system; the drainage of the site by creating chanampas along the valley; the formalization of the temporary construction causeway into a weir; and, the layout for the allotments. A Design Concept was also outlined for the wider extension of the project via homestead gardens with a Grameen Bank type financing option. A further Design Concept entailed a farmers co-operative support centre and poly tunnel farming located on the borrow pit site. This site would also be used for the training of farmers in organic farming practices; the ongoing technical support to farmers; the marketing and logistical support for the distribution of surplus produce both locally and to potential retailers; and, a local recycling centre. A Design Concept for a Permaculture Garden within the newly constructed Bhambayi Community Hall was also included as a forerunner to the adjacent and larger Bhambayi Organic Farming Project.
A detailed Project Budget and an associated Project Programme was prepared that showed how the implementation of the physical design should be integrated with institutional community building tasks. The Development Concept Plan report was workshopped and refined with all stakeholder groups in order to solicit co-operative governance for the adoption, financing and implementation of the plan.
This Development Concept Plan has also been endorsed by all stakeholders, but unfortunately, there has not been much co-operative governance by the various departments within eThekwini Municipality and other government departments to budget for this project and then procure a service provider to implement the project.
However, the Housing Department at eThekwini Municipality , who were constructing the Bhambayi Housing Project adjacent to this project, provided some funding to establish a Permaculture Garden at the Bhambayi Community Hall (described elsewhere in the Permaculture project portfolio), which is an element within the Bhambayi Organic Farming Project. This green lung remains undeveloped whilst funding is secured for the project.
This project has at least been used to demonstrate some unique rainwater harvesting designs and raise awareness that co-operative governance is required to deliver holistic and sustainable community development projects. However, the urgency to address food security in this project area may still arise and perhaps this project may be re-considered when funding becomes available.
Meanwhile, the establishment of the Permaculture Garden at the Bhambayi Community Hall has empowered some community members with Permaculture skills in order to create awareness for the larger farming project when funding is eventually secured.
The project report included a detailed budget from which it was able to assess the yardstick social investment cost per beneficiary as a means of comparison with other similar projects.