Just as we are gaining momentum after all the curve balls of this year – the end of 2020 is upon us!
The K2C Team is proud to share with you, our partners in that symbiotic space of biodiversity conservation, sustainable resource use and development, the stories of the last quarter of 2020.
We are looking forward towards impactful collaboration in 2021!
The K2C Team
Creating Conservation Corridors
By Romy Antrobus-Wuth, Stewardship Ecologist
A long-term vision of the K2C BR is to secure natural corridors, particularly along river systems and escarpment areas, that link the Greater Kruger National Park to the escarpment and the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, along altitudinal gradients. Natural corridors form important areas, in the otherwise human altered landscape, by creating refuges for breeding and “hi-ways” for wildlife to move through and disperse. By ultimately securing natural corridors, historic seasonal migratory routes for various species will be secured, while allowing for minor distribution shifts, in the face of Climate Change.
Biodiversity stewardship is an approach to entering into agreements with private and communal landowners to protect and manage land in biodiversity priority areas, led by conservation authorities in South Africa. It recognises landowners as the custodians of biodiversity on their land. Biodiversity stewardship is based on voluntary commitments from landowners, with a range of different types of biodiversity stewardship agreements available to support conservation and sustainable resource use. Various mechanisms to ensure the long-term security of properties along the identified corridor will be explored. These range from formal declaration as nature reserves under the Protected Areas Act (Act 57 of 2003) to contract agreements between landowners and conservation agencies or NGOs.
By engaging with willing landowners and formally securing their properties (under the Protected Areas Act), important corridors will be created where African Wild Dogs, vultures and other species can breed and move between the larger protected areas in the region in safety.
The K2C Team is currently investigating various opportunities to fund and support this long-term vision for the landscape, focusing on three “key nodes”. We are hopeful that 2021 will afford us the opportunity to gain momentum for this project and start seeing the vision become a reality.
This work is currently supported by the GEF 5 GEF 5 Protected Areas Project implemented by SANParks; Future funding to be confirmed.
New Restoration Teams Recruited
By Noxolo Mbebe, Jan Graf & Dimakatso Nonyane
The K2C is very happy to announce that the long awaited Blyde Restoration Custodianship Project, funded under the Land User Incentives Programme of Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) NRM, is finally underway. Funding for this project was originally applied for in January 2018 in partnership AWARD and the Blyde 4 CPAs. The project was conceptualized as a pilot project to explore a new restoration team model which focuses on addressing invasions in remote areas of the upper Blyde, Sand and Klaserie Catchments. At the same time the project would support the intensive capacity development of the team members in support of meaningful career development in the NRM sector and building local custodianship (particularly with youth).
The project will support 4 clearing teams: 1 existing Restoration Champions team, and 3 newly recruited teams.
The selection process was thorough to ensure teams that are enthusiastic and motivated. Recruits had to undergo fitness tests which included a 1KM run followed by push-ups and sit-ups. This was followed by an interview session. The best performing candidates where then chosen.
Training such as an induction, Plant Identification, Health & safety, First Aid and Herbicide application are essential for the team before going into the field. These training sessions are being conducted in December in preparation for the teams to be deployed in January. The team members are excited and are looking forward to the actual implementation in the field.
Clearing work will start on the 4th of January 2021 where three teams will focus on the Lowveld Plantations (LP) (areas around Mariepskop) and one team on top of the escarpment within the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. Of the three Lowveld teams the existing Restoration Champions are an intermediate team focused on alien invasive plant control in higher lying and remote areas of the escarpment.
A project steering committee consisting of representatives of Blyde 4 CPAs, K2C and the Institute for Developmental Learning & Environmental Sustainability, has been established to guide the teams going forward. We look forward to seeing the positive impact these teams will have on critical water catchments in the region.
The LUI Teams are funded by DEFF NRM under LUI Programme. Partners: MTPA & DEFF Forestry.
Changing how we burn for biodiversity - Patch Mosaic Burning
By Romy Antrobus-Wuth, Stewardship Ecologist
Across South Africa fire is a key ecosystem driver in many biomes, including grasslands, savanna and fynbos (heathland) ecosystems. Controlled fires are also often used as a management tool by land managers to help meet a number of objectives including reducing the risk of large-scale, destructive wildfires; clearing land for improved grazing; reducing bush encroachment; tick control, biodiversity and improving tourism objectives.
In conservation areas, the primary objective of fire management should be to increase or maintain biodiversity. It is argued that the best way to achieve this is to mimic natural fire regimes as closely as possible through patch mosaic burning (PMB) techniques. PMB can however also be used in a variety of land uses including commercial forestry, rangelands and agriculture as it reduces the risk of wildfires and the detrimental economic implications thereof. PMB requires less manpower, thus reducing costs associated with management.
The use of fire and its incorporation into conservation management has changed in parallel with shifts in ecological thinking which have taken place over the past 100 years. Historically it was thought that the environment was in a state of balance or equilibrium and management practices were implemented to reduce change. This paradigm has since been replaced with the view that ecological systems are rather in a constant state of flux and that heterogeneity leads to greater biodiversity. Fire management is therefore increasingly focusing on introducing heterogeneity in burning patterns under the assumption that “pyrodiversity creates biodiversity.”
Under the Biodiversity and Land Use Project, implemented by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the Kruger to Canyons BR in partnership with Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks agency compiled a set of guidelines to assist landowners and manages to implement patch mosaic burns on their properties. The purpose of the guideline document is to explain the principles behind PMB and give step-by-step instructions on how to implement a successful patch mosaic burning regime.
A short video detailing the benefits and principles behind PMB can be viewed here.
As part of this broader project, specific sites were identified to implement patch burns on the slopes of Mariepskop. Three wetland sites that had become encroached with woody shrubs and alien invasives as a result of fire being excluded from the area, were burnt in September 2020. The first burn in over 20 years! The impact of these burns and the regeneration of these sites will be monitored going forward in partnership with SAEON, MTPA and K2C BR.
In the new year it is hoped that a series of workshops and training sessions will be held to support fire teams to better understand the benefits and implement PMB in conservation landscapes in our region.
For more information or to download the detailed Patch Mosaic Burning Guidelines, go to the K2C Webiste.
This work was conducted under the Biodiversity and Land Use Project (BLU) which is implemented by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) together with its partners, with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Measuring the Outcomes of Ecological Restoration
by Jan Graf, Independant Consultant
Ecological restoration, including invasive alien plant clearing, erosion control and wetland restoration, aimed at improving the health and integrity of upper Blyde, Sand and Klaserie Catchments, has been ongoing for well over 2 decades in these catchments. However, until recently very little monitoring to measure the longer term outcomes and impacts of this restoration process, particularly in terms of water and biodiversity gains, has been conducted.
As part of a broader process supporting the development of more integrated, coordinated and systematic restoration in the area, a long term monitoring network of vegetation and hydrological monitoring points was initiated in 2019 by SAEON, the K2C, and AWARD, in partnerships with all key management and restoration agencies working in the area. This process is also linked to the current expansion process of the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, and the development of a new Integrated Management Plan for this area. This expansion includes ca. 16000 of the previous State Forestry Lowveld Plantations, with large areas of remaining plantations and alien plant invasions. The removal of these decommissioned plantations and invasions is hoped to improve the flow of water out of these catchments, particularly during the dry season.
Lack of funding has however prevented the immediate establishment of such a network, and an ongoing collaborative co-funding approach has been adopted by the group of partners involved to overcome this challenge. Through funding from the GEF/UNDP funded SANBI Biodiversity and Land Use Project, to the K2C, as well as internal funding within SAEON, these two partners have been supporting the expansion of the hydrological monitoring network in the area over the last four months. This has involved the installation of two new automated streamflow monitoring devices within tributaries in the Upper Blyde and Klaserie Rivers respectively. This work has also included capacity development of the Restoration Champions Team members in terms of environmental monitoring.
These monitoring points, along with two existing ones, will allow for the establishment of a baseline, against which streamflow further in the future can be compared once these upper catchments have been restored. Additionally, the potential impacts of climate change on water flow may also be measured by these devices. Current plans are in place to continue the installation of further such devices. The K2C is proud to partner with SAEON, the national custodian of long term environmental monitoring, in supporting the long term data collection and maintenance of these monitoring sites in the Biosphere.
Funders: Funding for this work has been received from UNDP GEF5 via the SANBI Biodiversity and Land Use Planning programme, SAEON
Partners: MTPA, DEFF Forestry, DEFF NRM
Ecosystem Custodians go on an Excursion!
By Shoki Mafogo, Project Manager for the Dinkwanyane Water Smart Project
On the 29th of September 2020, the Dinkwanyane Water Smart (DWS) Project team comprising of the Ecosystem Custodians and the Tourism guide development team went on a learning exchange in Ga-Mamaila. The excursion included a stay at a community based and owned lodge, the Ribola Art Route experience and Q&A sessions with key stakeholders involved in Tourism businesses in the Mamaila area.
This excursion was very relevant to the team because it gave exposure to the Ecosystem Custodians who hope to create a similar tourism product in their village of Phiring in the near future.
The biggest highlight of the trip was getting to sit down with the Traditional Authority representative that developed the concept of the lodge together with the community. Getting to interrogate the process of how everything moved from inception, through their consultation processes, to getting the funding to build the lodge. There are so many lessons and similarities to Phiring that we were able to draw out of our interactions with him. The ECs enthusiastically engaged in this session and it was great to see them being inspired by the whole idea of a community owned product.
The Ribola Art Route was another highlight for us! Here we got to meet ordinary community members who make arts and crafts; some traditional and some not. The creativity and commitment we saw in these small enterprises was so inspiring and mirrored our goals through the from the Region for the Region (fRfR) component of the project. We also got to see their first online auction of some of their greatest crafts sold to the highest bidder. Not only was it good to see the profits they made, but also the adaptive action they took due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the different components of the DWS project, we are now able to thread together the different strings of the project through tourism guide development. Not only is it starting to make sense to all key stakeholders and beneficiaries, but it cements our objective of creating a resilient community through sustainable practices.
Thanks to Lisa Martus from Love Limpopo for organising the successful learning exchange. This project is funded by the Government of Flanders and implemented with partners Conservation South Africa and Hoedspruit Hub.
Socio-Economic and Environmental Impacts on Water Allocation in the Sabie River Catchment
By Mbali Mashele, Sabie Water Stewardship Project Manager
SANParks, K2C BR and the IUCMA have commissioned a Resource Economy Study to investigate the social, economic and environmental impacts on water allocation in the Sabie River Catchment, with reference to the Strategic Water Source Areas within the Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Area (IUCMA).
This study aims to determine the impacts of water allocation through the context of water source protection through assessing various drivers of consumptive demands. This includes the impact of transformative policies (water and socio-economic development). In the context of the Sabie catchment’s cultural, social, economic, political, and environmental values, recognising that the catchment is within an integrated and transboundary landscape. In addition, the study aims to identify and evaluate the drivers of future consumptive demands to understand trade-offs and options of mitigating impacts through Source Water Protection Mechanisms (e.g. within Strategic Water Source Areas). Lastly, development scenarios using estimated water requirements based on the verification of existing lawful water use in the catchment and using estimated water requirements based on current and future water uses (domestic, irrigation and ecological water requirements) will be conducted and assessed.
The systems description and scenario prioritisation for the catchment has already been completed. It is envisaged that a webinar based training session will be conducted with stakeholders at the end of January 2021, for the completion of the study.
FUNDERS/PARTNERS: SANParks,WWF-SA and IUCMA
Fatherhood and Gender Equality
By Vusi Tshabalala, Environmental Monitors (EMs) Programme Manager
Gender equality is one of the topics that has gained momentum and a voice over the years. It has become one of the main health issues in the world, referring to equal opportunities for both men and women to live a healthy life. Unfortunately, this equality does not always arise naturally. Therefore, gender transformative interventions are designed to change gender roles and promote gender equality. The Kruger 2 Canyons Biosphere Region (K2C BR) is not an exception as we work in communities where cultural beliefs still treat women and men with different levels of respect, with clear outlined roles and duties. We start to see a lot of programmes that are developed to help the girl child to rise in the competitive world. On the other hand, we see an increase in rape, gender-based violence, broken families mostly by males. Perhaps one should can ask who is shaping the young males to treat our sisters and mothers with the respect they deserve?
The K2C BR has in partnership with STEPS For the Future & Caretakers developed the “Our Rhino” & “OUR SAND” films and have once again joined hands in addressing not only environmental issues but also social issues. STEPS uses the power of documentary films and facilitated film screenings to give vulnerable people a voice. It calls on us to become active participants in civil society in order to bring about social change and create a better and more just society for all. During the national lockdown from July 2020 – November 2020 STEPS planned a gender capacity building program, which includes webinars and film screenings and the development of a manual on how to use the existing films such as Intersections, What Happened, Boys Diaries and Fatherhood, to have conversations with young men around gender issues. The male only sessions were called Men2Men (M2M).
South Africa has one of the highest rates of fatherlessness in the world. According to the 2017 Statistics SA General Household Survey, a shocking 61.8% of children under the age of 18 live without their father. Of this number, 10.1% of children’s fathers are deceased, while 51.7% of children’s fathers are alive, but not living with the child. According to a 2013 report of the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR), black children are hardest hit, while the absence of fathers amongst white children has increased 32% in the previous 15 years. Only 33% of South African children lived with both their parents and of the remaining 67%, only 39% lived with their biological mothers and 4% with their biological fathers. The other 57% lived in other kinds of care, including extended family, government institutions or child-headed households (Gerald Flurry, The Trumpet, 1/3/2018).
Six capacity building webinars were held every second Friday, using film clips from one of the three films. These were open to STEPS regional network male facilitators where the K2C BR was represented by Vusi Tshabalala. The webinars were virtually attended and all attendees needed to have watched the three films in advance. The webinars were attended by young leaders from 8 Southern African countries and a lot of heated discussions, questions and debate around the role of men in society, fatherhood in marriage and outside of marriage, cultural values, attitudes were considered. Later in August a similar platform using the same films was created for female facilitators only that was called Sister2Sister (S2S). K2C BR was also represented on the S2S sessions by Shoki Mafogo.
During the separate platforms for males and females STEPS realised that there were a lot of assumptions made by the males about the females and vice versa. So the last session was a mixed gender session where each group was given an opportunity to ask that one question you have always wanted to ask the opposite sex in an open and safe environment. Some of the questions and quotes that were discussed included:
- A “No” often means a “Yes”.
- Men cannot say No to sex because it shows weakness.
- Girls and women harass men by the way they dress.
- Having a girl as a friend is like a chicken in the fridge – eventually you will want to eat it
- Girls take relationships as a source of income to solve their financial problems.
- Men are expected to be in control in a relationship
- Women are better parents than men.
- Mothers and fathers should be equal partners in raising a child
The films and discussions are something that K2C will be taking forward with our different stakeholders and communities to conduct screenings to help our youth to start engaging in these difficult yet necessary topics. All the films are available on Youtube and you can also get in touch of us if you are interested in hosting or attending a session.
Women in Agriculture – Evelyne Moropa
By Cindy Koen, from the Region for the Region project Manager
Where most people see working at a farm simply as a way to make ends meet, Evelyne Moropa saw it as a learning opportunity. In 1998, she was offered a position on a commercial farm so she grabbed the opportunity and learnt as much as she could. By the year 2000, she felt confident enough to start farming and obtained a 3-hectare plot.
Now at the age of 63, she is a confident and thriving farmer, farming with tomatoes, onions, cabbage, butternuts, and madumbe. She has proven that if you put your mind to something, you can achieve it, as long as you are willing to work for it.
In the beginning, she had many hurdles to overcome, yet, she was overwhelmed with how neighbouring farmers stepped in and mentored her to achieve her goals. Which now, motivates her to ensure that she mentors youth to take up farming, and supports them where she can.
Through the years her farming allowed her to take care of her family, renovate her house, and most recently built, a new home for her retirement.
When we asked her if there was one message she could give the youth looking at farming she said: “There is money in farming, and it is worth the effort, but you need to know that there is a lot of effort that will go in. Farming helps youth to draw attention away from other problems and keeps them ‘off the streets’. You should never walk over money, start a business, do something big. You never know, you might be starting a large corporate company.”
fRfR project funded by Government of Flanders, DWS project in partnership with Conservation South Africa and Hoedspruit Hub
Adaptive Management for Success
By Cindy Koen, from the Region for the Region Project Manager
In 2019 Activating Africa conducted a feasibility study on behalf of the Dinkwenyana Water Smart (DWS) Project, focusing on the viability of a market access system in the Kruger 2 Canyons Biosphere Region. The study concluded that a market access system is viable and needed and offered a list of recommendations on how to implement the start of the market access system. Thus, the From the Region for the Region project (fRfR) was born.
The study concluded that the following recommendations should be used to implement the market access system:
- A central procurement hub system that would form a link between the supplier (seller) and the consumer (buyer), mitigating some of the constraints. The producer (seller) would notify the hub of their weekly produce availability, and the consumer (buyer) would order accordingly. Logistics of getting the products to the consumer (buyer) would then fall on the procurement hub with the support of other SMMEs e.g., transport SMMEs.
- Introducing mobile technology in the form of apps that will support the consumer (buyer) to link directly with the producer (seller), broadening the reach of clientele that includes the more digitized individuals.
- Online presence that will form a virtual database of services and products that is available in their geographical region.
The plan was to kick off with a six-month pilot with the support of the Thornybush collection posing as the buyers. The intention was for the pilot to start in June 2020 however COVID-19 lockdown prevented this from happening as planned. At the time, the fRfR team revisited the pilot and adapted it to include alternative consumers (buyer) as the tourism industry was not in operation. Consumers (buyers) now consisted of private individuals, catering company, retail stores, and restaurants in Hoedspruit.
Within the first few weeks of the pilot, issues started arising and, the need to adapt became clear. Mitigating steps put in place in order to continue with the pilot, yet the longer the pilot carried on, the clearer it became that although the recommendations where phenomenal, the stakeholders are not ready.
Taking a step back, the fRfR team looked at what comes next and followed adaptive management steps to gain a new perspective and make changes for success.
Using the Problem Driven Iterative Approach (PDIA) (Harvard University, 2013) steps, they managed to define the problem and work toward finding plausible solutions for the causes to address said problem. These steps included:
- Constructing the problem
- Deconstructing the problem to identify the causes and sub-causes
- Change space analysis
These steps supported the team to identify possible solutions to now reach success, addressing the causes of the problem, and not only focusing on a solution. The steps to success now look completely different. The following outcomes have been identified and will be implemented in 2021
- Supporting the informal market,
- Transitions 20% of current smallholder farmers to farm niche products with direct established market access,
- Mentoring SMMEs,
- Developing savings groups for SMMEs to save toward business goals,
- Setting up Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) which allow groups of smallholder farmers to get organic endorsements,
- Offer retailers the opportunity to sell organic endorsed products.
Failing does not necessarily mean one should give up or stop trying. It simply means that there is room for improvement and growth. Using adaptive management tools allows us to fail forward and grow our projects more effectively and ultimately lead to success.
Funded by Government of Flanders and supported by Thornybush Game Reserve.
Youth Development is Key for our Common Future!
By Marie-Tinka Uys, COO K2C Biosphere Region
During the last quarter, the K2C Environmental Monitors (EMs) have been thrown a curve ball with the suspension of the Programme on 14 August 2020. This was an extra blow for our local communities, who are already suffering the economic consequences of the COVID pandemic’s 2020 Lock Down.
The good news is that the programme was resumed on 1 December 2020 with the promise that the programme’s end date will be extended with an extra 8 months to November 2022.
In the face of this challenge, the EM Leadership Group as a collective displayed resilience and commitment to the Environment-Sustainable Development interface. PRIDE Group members (comprising of EM Leaders and K2C staff members) enrolled in an accredited online Course at Rhodes University (RU) about Social Learning in Natural Resource Management Contexts.
The aim of the RU Course is to build capacity of practitioners in learning processes such as training and facilitation, stakeholder engagement and information sharing by drawing on up to date learning theory, method and processes and embed the learning practically in local conditions with local impact.
The four Modules of the Course are:
- Module 1: (Oct ‘20) – Educational Contextual Profiling
- Module 2: (Nov’20) – Stakeholder Engagement
- Module 3: (Feb ‘21) – Intro & Design of Learning Process
- Module 4 (March’21) – Implementation and Evaluation of Environmental Learning
Devine Nxumalo of the Blyde 4 Stewardship Group reflects as follows on the value of the course for him: “I am interested in ensuring food Security. So, it is very much important that I speak about water pollution and try to come up with solutions to avoid it, because South Africa has a scarcity of fresh water”.
“I am very proud of the progress made by the K2C Group.” Mr Reuben Thifhulufhelwi of RU said.
The RU enrolment for Team Members is supported by the American People through USAID’s Resilience Waters Programme.
See personal accounts of their course related research from Hope Morema and Mpho Lavhengwa below.
This project component was funded by USAID Resilient Waters Programme and Rhodes University and the Environmental Monitors Programme is funded by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.
Small Business Mentorship in the K2C
By Itumeleng Morale
The From the Region for the Region project has taken on the challenge of teaching and mentoring community-based small business owners. The mentoring focuses on how the business can become self-sufficient and how they can transition to become more environmentally sustainable. The aim of this is to support various sectors to grow an all-inclusive, circular, green economy.
In return for embracing green business transitions, the small business owners receive a variety of benefits from the project. These incentives include ongoing business mentorship, training, discounts on business resources and more. When the businesses have transitioned to green business practices, we support them in accessing large markets in and around the K2C landscape.
Like most projects and businesses, lockdown has delayed progress. However, we are happy to announce that we are now finally back up and running supporting business owners. We have also successfully started our first mentoring group. Each mentoring group will consist of 10 – 20 participants, the training provided is dependent on the collective needs and focus of the groups.
Our first mentoring group started in the Phiring community in August 2020. The group consisting of 13 smallholder farmers based in the Phiring and Maleaneng communities. These farmers have all completed the Agroecology training provided by Hoedspruit Hub. The meetings take place twice a month for 1-2 hours, depending on the subject covered. As an introduction we organized a peer learning session which allowed the group to visit each farmer’s farm. This opportunity allowed the farmers to share with the group the produce they had planted, challenges they encountered and how they maintain their farm. The other farmers could now offer advice on their challenges as well as offer general advice and support. This exercise promotes unity and trust amongst the group members.
The classroom session topics range from drafting a business plan, constitutions, business registration, market analysis, customer analysis, marketing strategies, budgeting, financial management, and community mapping. The projected outcome for these sessions is to prepare the farmers for the markets that we will be linking them with in the future.
This project component was funded by the Government of Flanders as part of the Dinkwanyane Water Smart Project.
Unlawful disposal of nappies/diapers in the Motlasedi/Klaserie River
By Hope Morema K2C Office Manager
It is without a doubt that areas of the environment are becoming severely polluted and hold health risks to society and a severe threat to the biodiversity. The Motlasedi River is among the sites that are experiencing the challenge of unlawful disposal of nappies. I therefore decided to make this my research topic for a Rhodes University course I am undertaking, to facilitate social learning and stakeholder engagement in the natural resource management context. Compiling contextual profiling on Natural Resources Management issue in the K2C landscape, the course is funded by the USAID Resilient Waters programme through Kruger To Canyons Biosphere Region.
The Motlasedi River flows from the upper catchment of Mariepskop State Forest and connects with the Blyde and Oliphant’s Rivers leading to Protected Areas including Kruger National Park. It is the foremost water source for the communities that are adjacent to it, namely Moloro, Ga-Boelang and Brooklyn villages.
The dumping of nappies in the Motlasedi River not only effects people’s livelihoods, it also contributes to the loss of biodiversity in the region. The study shows that there are a lot of contributing factors to this challenge and it requires a collaborative team effort to address it. The topic links to the Resilient Waters Project, a USAID funded project implemented by the K2C focusing on the water quality in the rivers and streams. The Veld and Sanitation Guide, created by Conservation South Africa (CSA), which speaks about the right ways of disposing waste and how to separate water points for human and animal use is also being distributed through the project. The solution to this problem is very complex, and collaboration from different stakeholders is essential. That is where the skills acquired through the Rhodes University course will help facilitate this through stakeholder engagement and social learning.
This project component is funded by USAID Resilient Waters Programme, Rhodes University and Conservation South Africa.
The Emergence of Informal Settlements- a Case Study of Hoedspruit Town
By Mpho Lavhengwa, Assistant data capturer
Hoedspruit is a small farming and tourism town in Maruleng Municipality, Mopani District in Limpopo Province. The town falls in the centre of the K2C Biosphere Region. It is the administrative centre of the municipality and the biggest node in the region. It is comprised of large areas of privately owned land and is mostly devoted to extensive uses such as farming, wildlife estates, private game reserves, conservancies, game lodges, and other tourist attractions. Over the past 10 years, there has been an emergence of informal or squatter settlements within the Hoedspruit Town centre, with increased growth in the year 2020. This could be attributed to factors such as rural-urban migration, high population growth, high youth unemployment rate, high cost of living, lack of affordable housing, weak governmental governance and the Covid 19 pandemic.
Informal settlements are, in their nature, a hazard to the environment because they ignore spatial planning which ensure safety for people and curb other environmental issues such as erosion, land degradation, biodiversity loss and habit fragmentation. In its initial stages this settlement emerged because commuters from the nearby villages couldn’t afford rent in town and wanted to avoid transportation costs. Over the years it has grown uncontrollably and is believed to be a home of all forms of social ills- harbouring illegal activities and illegal immigrants as well. Locally the area is popularly known as a prostitution and illegal drugs hub.
Anecdotal evidence was gathered through a historical analysis of the informal settlement and an interview was conducted to obtain an overview of the mushrooming of informal settlements in Hoedspruit. This focused mostly on how the informal settlement has evolved over time and its effects on the economy, environment, and social changes. The contextual profile revealed the complexity of this issue. Firstly due to the large majority of the Hoedspruit area being private land, and secondly the unavailability of unoccupied municipality land in the area readily available to be converted into a residential area.
Formalising and upgrading the informal settlement into a recognised and decent residential area with service delivery is an alternative that cannot be explored in this context. This is because the settlement is on private land spatially located for other economic activities. Currently, the Maruleng Municipality is attempting to secure land to build low-income housing in Hoedspruit as an attempt to eradicate informal settlements in the area. Much of this development will be explored going deeper into the case study as the course progresses.
This project component is funded by USAID Resilient Waters Programme and Rhodes University.
New Team Member: Kiera Schoeman - Sustainable Livelihoods Manager for the Kruger National Park
Kiéra Schoeman recently joined the K2C team as the Sustainable Livelihoods Manager for the Kruger National Park. As a key member of the team implementing the Greater Kruger Development Programme, she is providing socio-economic expertise through the development of the Greater Kruger Fund, sustainable financing options, viable business opportunities and training.
Kiéra, has a Doctor of Philosophy in Tourism Management which she acquired through the North-West University in 2015. Her thesis focused on developing a perceived value model for the Cruise Experience. While living and study in Potchefstroom, she met her husband of 7 years. Early in her career, Kiéra was a Tourism lecturer at UNISA before joining the consulting company, Urban-Econ where she assisted in starting-up the Tourism Research Unit and in 2016 she was appointed as the unit manager. Her work as a Development Economist focused on a number of tourism attraction, marketing, branding, planning, socio-economic, research and development studies. She has led and project-managed over 50 tourism projects across South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Zambia. Of these projects include the Greater Kruger Strategic Development Programme, Cruise Tourism Strategy, State of Tourism Report, the Indi-Atlantic Tourism Route Supply and Demand Analysis, the B-BBEE Baseline in Tourism Study, the Transformation Strategy and a number of other development studies. Kiéra also served as an Accredited Grading Assessor for the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa.
Kiera, her husband and two small children recently relocated to White River from Gauteng. She lives by the following David Livingstone quote: ‘I’ll go anywhere, provided it be forward’.