Livelihood activities are gradually being integrated into ongoing projects run by the EWT’s African Crane Conservation Programme (ACCP) in Chrissiesmeer. Under a project funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF), the ACCP undertook its first initiative to tackle socio-economic challenges to highlight linkages between community livelihoods and water management in Chrissiesmeer and surrounding communities. The phased approach adopted has seen the introduction of vegetable gardens at five schools. This is a first step towards the introduction of a wide range of greening projects to improve household food security and promote a culture of water conservation by local communities.
During the last quarter of 2013, the ACCP’s Community Field Officer, Steven Segang, undertook social mobilisation to promote the vegetable gardening concept. School principals in the project area lauded vegetable gardening as a noble idea that would not only provide tangible socio-economic benefits but would also provide opportunities for schoolchildren to learn about greening. In January, fencing materials for the gardens were distributed and each school came up with a strategy to ensure that local communities were involved in the establishment of the gardens. Erection of the fences is currently underway and planting of seedlings is set to start during the third week of February. Water to irrigate the vegetables will be obtained from water sources fed by a network of wetlands, rivers and dams. The gardening initiative will be expanded to include households drawn from townships and rural communities. Production will take place all year round.
Vegetable gardening is one of the various community development activities that the ACCP is introducing in Chrissiesmeer so as to secure buy-in from local stakeholders in its crane and wetland conservation efforts. Chrissiesmeer wetlands were declared a Protected Environment last month. The livelihood projects will contribute towards the fulfilment of the integrated conservation and development goals of the ACCP in the area.