Government policy encourages community participation in all its programmes, but this engagement needs to be supported by capacity building that will ensure that communities have the capacity to join those programmes. Currently, the youth, women, as well as the disabled do not participate in the government entrepreneur and many other programmes because of a lack of experience and required skills.
However, Capacity building, such as those offered by The Mvula Trust, allows communities to take up the issues and opportunities that matter to them. It also allows for a shift from a passive, blaming culture to one of activity, integration and shared endeavor.
519 households on farms in Warden, Vrede, Roadside and Memel, within the Phumelela Local Municipality in Free State benefited from the Rural Household Infrastructure Programme (RHIP) in 2012. Less than 5% of these households have access to electricity and the access to radio and television is accordingly very low. As a result, it stands at approximately 10%. Their access to water is, however, high, as the households access the water that is available for irrigation on the farm.
The Mvula Trust facilitated stakeholder meetings with the identified communities in order to allow the community to identify their own community learning and development areas within the scope of the project. It also worked with other community-based organisations and community contractors in order to support the skills development and confidence of the development workers in those organizations.
Identified community contractors were eventually short listed to five organizations and those companies were skilled on how to provide and manage the construction services that they were contracted with.
The Mvula Trust was able to support the five community contracting companies with providing project development and support, organizational, financial and personnel management, and funding and resource attraction through concessions and funding advancements.
The effective stakeholder facilitation meetings enabled The Mvula Trust to implement the project by understanding the community perspective and having insight into the particular needs of the farm households it served, as farm households are often a socially excluded group because of their location.
A high level of ownership was attained through the stakeholder consultation meetings as the beneficiaries were able to network, exchange ideas on improving the required services and communicate more effectively as part of a group.
The activities on the various farms yielded many positive results including services delivery, job creation and income generation.
The biggest achievements lie, however, in the understanding by farm dwellers on the importance and impact of appropriate health and hygiene practices.
Additional behavioural practices were also shared with the farm beneficiaries that will enable them to manage personal health and hygiene more effectively, given their limited resources. These include how to communicate with different stakeholders on the sensitive and intimate topics of sanitation and healthy living, as well as social wellbeing.
The operations and maintenance training that accompanied the construction work will enable the users of the toilet infrastructure to correctly use, maintain and repair their facilities, and thereby extend its lifespan and provide an improved quality of life for the users, as a result.