From hosting an event for Indigenous People’s Day to installing river monitoring equipment, hosting workshops on conservation agriculture and gender biases, securing new partnerships and distributing MORE cookstoves (over 250 000!), the K2C Team has been busy across our broad spectrum of projects and things do not look like they are slowing down! Read in more detail what our team and our partners have been up to  since June.


 Thanks as usual goes to all our funders, partners and supporters who make this work possible! 

The K2C Team


K2C BR celebrates International Indigenous People’s Day with our Traditional Leaders!

– Marie-Tinka Uys A balmy August day broke with a beautiful sunrise in the east. The day brought a big FIRST for our landscape: Ten honourable Kgošigadi’s, Kgoši’s and Hosi’s joined us to celebrate International Indigenous People’s Day (IIPD). On 23 December 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided, in its resolution 49/214, that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People shall be observed in August every year. The date marks the first meeting, in 1982, of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations.  People from around the world are encouraged to spread the message on the protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous peoples. The theme changes annually to shed light on a pressing topic, and the theme for the year 2022 was “The Role of Indigenous Women in the Preservation and Transmission of Traditional Knowledge”.

Attendees of the Indigenous People’s Day celebration

The following Traditional Authorities (T.A) honoured us with their presence: Bakone ba Mametja, Banareng ba Letsoalo, Banareng ba Sekororo, Batau ba Moreipusho (Maakere),  Setlhare Tribal Authority Mohlala, Traditional Council Moletele Tribal Authority, Mashilane Traditional Council, Jongilanga Traditional Authority and Amashangana Traditional Council. An insightful keynote address was delivered by Professor Hassan Kaya of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS). Prof. Kaya set the scene for the day with his presentation on “Indigenous Knowledge Systems, African Rural Women in Bio-Cultural Diversity Conservation for Climate Change Adaptation, Resilience and Mitigation: Policy Implications”. Prof. Kaya highlighted the value proposition that the promotion of the role of African rural women as custodians of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) play in the context of sustainable development. The Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE) presented the proposed draft White Paper (WP)on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biodiversity, outlining the rationale, principles, goals, and the objective of the proposed policy. The presentation was followed by rich discussions, including the following key points:
  • It was suggested that the WP considers using the term “Conservation for Sustainable use” to better integrate the concepts.
  • The value of T.A. as a form of governance highlighted the need for T.A.’s to play a role in the transfer of IK.
  • Concerns were raised regarding the effectiveness and legitimacy of the stakeholder engagement processes for the WP.
  • The T.A.’s raised a concern that the failure of existing policies that led to the need of the W.P. were not made clear to them.
  • There was concern that the WP does not take customs of the people into account, and in some cases put animals before people (This was raised in the context of the animal welfare sections of the WP).
  • The definition of the term “Ubuntu” in the WP was questioned.
  • The implementation of the WP was unclear and the T.A.’s emphasised the need for a policy that clearly outline and facilitate effective beneficiation from natural resources.
  • The T.A.’s made it very clear that they wanted to be informed how their input will be incorporated into an updated draft policy paper.

Chief Chiloane addressing the participants

After lunch, Ms Mashele of UNESCO BE RESILIENT facilitated a session around the following question:
  • What processes should be in place to ensure inclusivity of traditional leaders, healers, and women in their contribution towards policy guidelines, strategies, and ultimately the satisfactory implementation of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of resources?
The following points were made during the discussions:
  • We need to note there are female traditional leaders who govern some communities in this landscape. The inclusion of traditional leaders in discussions around biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of resources initiatives is very important, since they are the custodians of the land, and they can influence the implementation of activities that will ensure biodiversity conservation in their respective communities. (It is important for traditional authorities are given the opportunity to be heard and to engage).
  • Women are vulnerable; therefore, they need to be exposed to more knowledge and opportunities so that they are empowered. Knowledge is power, and it also enables women to gain confidence in themselves and their abilities. Different outreach, capacity-building programmes, and training are some of the activities that provide empowerment and knowledge building to women.  An example of these could be exposed to leadership, business, etc.  These opportunities should be made visible, relevant, and accessible for women to participate.
The Day ended with a Vote of Thanks to all the participating T.A.s. and other participants. The K2C BR would like to wholeheartedly thank UNESCO BE RESILLIENT; the Government of Flanders, DFFE and LEDET for their support.

AFR 100 in the K2C landscape

 ~ Dimakatso Nonyane, Resilient Waters Project Manager The K2C together and Conservation South Africa (CSA) are proud to be part of the organizations that will contribute to the African Forest Landscape Restoration (AFR) Initiative. This is a country led effort to bring 100 million hectares of deforested and degraded landscapes across Africa into restoration by 2030. This opportunity was presented by our partner (CSA) when they saw the need for our restoration work to continue after some setbacks due to lack of funding. This project uses a team of 10 team members to clear alien plants left in critical catchment areas to avoid further spread up into indigenous forest and riparian areas. The team will also monitor seedling recruitment. There are also opportunities for the project to link cleared aliens to value chains such as biochar, wood vinegar and wood chips. The project aims to clear 600 ha of alien vegetation and monitor natural indigenous regeneration. The 10 participants are employed through the Yes 4 Youth Program which is aimed at providing skills and workplace experience for unemployed youth to improve their chances of being employable. There is a lot of learning where each member will have to complete 6 modules as per YES requirements and will at the end of the project receive certificates and motivational letters based on their performance.

AFR 100 Team conducting vegetation surveys before they begin clearing.

The team will be under the supervision of Khutso Pebane who successfully led the intermediate team of 8 restoration custodians up at the Mariepskop forest. We look forward to having a team actively clearing aliens in the field again! FUNDERS/PARTNERS: Resilient Waters; CSA; YES 4 Youth; AFR 100  

Monitoring Rivers in the K2C Biosphere

 – Nicholas Theron, Senior Program Manager The upper Sand and Blyde catchment in the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region, form part of South Africa’s strategic water source areas supporting many downstream livelihoods and economic activities.  These catchments have been identified as a priority for strategic monitoring of water balance, water usage and flow.  As a result, the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region (K2C BR), in partnership with UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA), South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency (IUCMA) and the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) are installing weather stations and water level sensors able to communicate with a gateway providing real-time information on river systems and local weather. This data will be used for multiple outcomes but include long term monitoring of catchment areas in the context of climate change; measuring the impacts of various restoration efforts such as alien invasive plant clearing exercises and will also have the potential to act as an early warning system during extreme weather events such as droughts and floods. On the 7th of September representatives from K2C, SAEON, UNESCO ROSA and the IUCMA spent a day in field installing monitoring equipment as a pilot to test their performance in our local conditions. Based on the outcomes more equipment will be deployed in the future. Initial results are positive, however the rugged terrain makes finding line of site difficult. We are however, encouraged and are in the process of developing a comprehensive plan for the project. A network of this kind will be invaluable in future helping us to monitor the impacts of our catchment based interventions, monitoring the impacts and the effects of climate change and detecting extreme weather early.

Water monitoring equipment being installed by SEAON

If you would like to find out more please feel free to contact us FUNDERS/PARTNERS: This work is sponsored by UNESCO through the Be-Resilient Project with additional support of K2C staff through the USAID Resilient Waters Project

Conservation Compatible Agriculture Learning Colloquium

~ Cindy Koen, Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region On Wednesday the 5th of October 2022, Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region (K2C BR) hosted a learning colloquium for partner organisations and smallholder farmers in the region at the Greater Kruger Hotel School. The intentions were to enable social learning amongst organisations currently offering some form of training or support to smallholder farmers within the K2C Region or within the Employment and skills for Development Programme (E4D) that is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and Dinkwanyane Water Smart project funded by the Government of Flanders. The day was started off with the 37 attendees introducing themselves their organisations and/or farms to the audience as well as pinpointing on a map where they are based. The challenges identified ranged from the struggles with a non-chemical-based pest control and pest management, market access and understanding market needs, lack of training in some areas and duplicated effort in other areas, lack of understanding of quality and consistency of produce, climate challenges and water needs, regulations, and logistical constraints. Large landscape offers a variety of opportunities with regards to variety of crops, varied indigenous knowledge systems, growing informal and formal markets, ability to grow larger networks to promote social learning, and the opportunity to expand on circular economies and value adding to crops. The key lessons learnt and takeaways from the session was:
  • The importance of timing in our climate and adapting to the challenges that it poses
  • Understanding your market capabilities and opportunities available to you and your farm
  • Understanding your market and the ability to grow crops according to their needs and not necessarily what your neighbour is growing or profiting from
  • The importance of social capital and sharing resources
  • Ability to implement regenerative farming principles supporting the sustainability of not only the individual farmer, but that of the community as a whole
  • Understanding the importance of working toward food security on a national level and the role each individual farmer plays towards reaching those targets
We are looking forward to growing and collaborating with all our partners going into the future.

DWS showcases viable Financial Instruments through CAPEX

-Rose Selahle (Site coordinator) & Reshoketswe Mafogo (Project Manager) One cannot separate economics and social impacts from environmental challenges. The CAPEX fund of the DWS project which is carefully administered through the governance of Savings Groups & framework of a Conservation Agreement helps to guarantee sustainability and further ensures a pay it forward system. The CAPEX fund has enabled stewards/recipients to implement sustainable agricultural practices within their crop farming, livestock & rangeland management, and a great injection to SMME development. To date, the DWS project has administered roughly R683 000 worth of CAPEX, to over 11 individual applicants & 4 cooperatives. This money will now revolve and evolve within the Dinkwenyane community for years to come. Not only ensuring economic emancipation but also implementation of conservation actions linked to the Conservation Agreement that will accompany administration of the loan. The encouraging part about this system is that stewards understand the model, some have already started paying back the loans to their respective savings groups and other members are eager to be part of the second phase of the CAPEX fund, which will be governed by the community/savings groups, and no longer the DWS project! “The CAPEX fund has allowed marginalized members of the community to access funds that no other institution would ever have provided because they would never have been able to pass the criteria required in financial institutions such as banks. This really is what we call empowerment” said one of the farmers at a community meeting. FUNDERS/PARTNERS: Government of Flanders; Conservation South Africa; Hoedspruit Hub

Partnering with The Nature Conservancy to strengthen conservation efforts in the K2C

 – Romy Antrobus-Wuth and Wehncke van der Merwe (K2C/TNC) Partnerships has always been an integral part of how the K2C BR operates in the region, whether it be partnering with other local NGOs, government, communities or the private sector, to ensure impact across the 2,5-million-hectare area we serve. We believe that our newest partnership, with The Nature Conservancy, will help us do exactly that – upscale our conservation work in the region and look to find sustainable ways to finance it. Initial conversations with the Nature Conservancy began during lockdown in April 2020. The K2C team reached out to learn more about the successful Greater Cape Town Water Fund (GCWF). For the GCWF TNC is using nature-based solutions to help restore key catchments which provide the City of Cape Town with water. With the help of TNC (through the Nature 4 Water Facility) we are now working to set up a similar model for the Blyde Catchment. It is called the Blyde Catchment Investment Program (CIP). The Blyde is currently one of the most pristine systems in South Africa, and it serves multiple communities downstream with water, as well as a multi-million rand commercial citrus and soft fruit industry. The river is under increasing pressure, with negative water quality and quantity effects highly likely in the near future. Through the Blyde Catchment Investment Partnership we hope to intervene and help maintain the ecological integrity of the catchment and river. To further support the biosphere, TNC is also starting up, with K2C, a conservation programme aimed at securing key biodiversity areas across the landscape. Some of these areas include important conservation corridors, grasslands, riverine forest and multiple other areas where endangered species occur.

The TNC and Nature 4 Water Team visiting the K2C Landscape

TNC is a conservation organisation active in over 70 countries and territories globally. They also believe that partnerships are key. As a large global organization they believe in helping to support and capacitate local grassroots level organisations such as K2C. Bringing with them resources, networks and insight. In this vein TNC has added capacity to the K2C Team by seconding two of our team members for the next year to work with TNC towards the K2C Conservation Corridors Program and the Catchment Investment Program. Working with us to design these initiatives and source finding into the future. Our team members are already learning a lot through this partnership and we look forward to working together to help secure both biodiversity and water sources in the K2C Biosphere.

A gender perspective on the Waste Picking sector at the London Landfill site

~ Lethabo Rasakanya, E4D Site Administrator One of the interesting things about waste is that it is not necessarily a gender-neutral concept. In many societies, women and men have different perceptions and views of what is or is not waste. For example, what may look like trash to men may be a treasure to women and vice versa. What’s important though, is that both genders play a critical role in the waste management sector, and all waste reclaimers encounter multiple challenges in securing their livelihoods in this challenging environment. Despite the overall challenges associated with waste picking, and yet there are perceptions that the waste sector experiences negative impacts from gender inequality which exacerbates the already negative impacts of this livelihood strategy are inequality. Gender in waste picking is a socially constructed idea about different roles, behaviours, rights and responsibilities of men and women, and the relations between them. It appears that women waste pickers are at the receiving end of additional constraints due to gender inequality in their society and working in the landfill. To gain a better understanding of the possible gender-related negative impacts of waste picking as a livelihood strategy, Lethabo Rasakanya from the K2C biosphere facilitated a social learning engagement with the Gadifeli waste pickers in the London Landfill site, located in Maruleng Municipality, Limpopo on the 11th of August 2022. The engagement, “A genders’ perspective on Waste picking sector at the London Landfill site”, aimed at enabling the waste pickers to harness social learning on the role of gender in the waste sector, and discuss the challenges female waste pickers encounter at the London Landfill site and how to address these challenges to achieve sustainable waste management. The engagement started with a session aimed at understanding the difference between a male and female waste picker and the role both genders currently play in the waste management industry. The discussion highlighted a myriad of ways in which waste picking is not gender-neutral:
  • One of the waste pickers mentioned how women work four days per week due to social responsibilities and obligations such as having to tend to these other duties, which limits their time at the landfill site and leads to them earning less than men, who work on average five days per day.
  • The Waste picker further alluded to conflicts that rise when trucks carrying loads of waste arrive at the site and dump waste. Both men and women compete for recyclable waste (e.g., PET bottles, plastic bags, White Paper, cardboard boxes and cans and many more), and in some cases, this results in violence. Subsequently, women waste reclaimers carry fewer bags than men due to the fear of being seen as an equal competitors in the physical scramble.
  • In other incidents, women reclaimers stated how in the past they have collected heavy loads of recyclables in the interest of competing with the men for additional income yet imposing negatively on their health leading to in some cases severe injuries and physical health risks.
  • The exposure of waste reclaimers to hazards such as violence, dust particles, harmful microbial substances and pests, and remnants of toxic emissions substances, affects their respiratory and fertility health. However only men seem to be given alternative positions that are less exposed, such as driving the delivery trucks, while women are only able to engage in activities directly involving waste picking.
All the above factors contribute to women waste pickers having lower incomes, being exposed to more hazardous working conditions and having less control over their work in comparison to male counterparts. The engagement was concluded by discussing the significance of empowering women waste pickers to enable labour equality standards and safe protection policies. To strive toward sustainability in the waste management sector, gender equity will be essential, and this will require work and commitment from all stakeholders (Waste pickers, private sectors, academia, government/ public sector and civil societies). Such an intersectional approach will create awareness, change perceptions, and improve communication interventions that can redirect the future of waste management toward gender equality and ultimately sustainability.

Encouraging the participation of women waste pickers in the waste sector is a positive step towards creating gender equity. However, promoting equal prioritisation of waste reclaimers to protect them from gender-based violence and protect them against health risks and hazards, will be equally important. Initiating training on gender mainstreaming in the waste sector by bringing a gender focus into waste sector decision-making and policy setting as well as applying equal opportunities and recognition for both genders in waste picking will further improve the environment, and socio-economic sustainability in the waste sector and support Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender equality

“Our Water” documentary screeners doing the most

Dimakatso Nonyane, Resilient Waters Project Manager In April the K2C released their third documentary which focuses on one of our most precious resources, “Our Water”, that many of us take for granted. The documentary is used as an awareness tool within communities in the K2C landscapes to provoke emotions and educate on the journey that water takes before reaching certain communities. This work is facilitated by a group of 8 passionate team members who emerged from the Environmental Monitors Programme, these individuals are strategically placed in the two clusters regarded as strategic water Source Areas in the landscape because of the benefits for the downstream users. The screeners went through rigorous facilitation training to sharpen their skills and prepare them for the challenging conversations that will arise as we tackle this sensitive topic. The energetic individuals are to each cover 8 villages both where they reside and their neighboring villages. The expected outcome of the project is for each cluster to cover 64 screenings and 64 action plans which are led by the communities. They started engaging with communities in April 2022 and have managed to conduct 84 screenings in total, reaching over 7055 audiences, despite various challenges that  they were faced with.    The screeners are faced with multitasking – in some areas they facilitate and assist with implementing the community’s action. A good example of these is seen with the North-West cluster screeners where they encourage communities to practice Agroecology to promote saving water and climate change mitigation. In the South-West cluster one of the ward councilors who was part of the screening pledged to get the municipality to put a skip bin in one of the hotspots during a community clean-up campaign that will take place in the coming weeks to offer the community a solution to a problem they pointed out during a screening session.    FUNDERS/PARTNERS:; WWFSA; Flanders Southern Africa; Conservation South Africa and Hoedspruit Hub

TASC-SA Management and Cookstove Project Funders’ site visit

 – David Mpebe, Keneilwe Mmushi, Oky Sibashe, and Hope Morema TASC Community Support Practitioner (CSP) On the 31st of August 2022 the K2C team welcomed Shelley Estcourt (TASC-SA CEO), Malcolm Steward (TASC CFO Africa), and a TASC funder representative in the K2C landscape. The purpose of the visit was to support the Community Support Practitioners to monitor, support, collect and analyze data and to educate community members on topics aligned with the objectives of the cookstove project. The CSP’s led the Head Office team to Ga-Boelang for the purpose of conducting monitoring surveys. Ga-Boelang was one of the first villages to receive the fuel-efficient and eco-friendly cookstoves in the K2C landscape. The monitoring surveys are conducted for the purpose of gauging the acceptance, adoption, usage rate, and the tracking of emerging issues concerning the cookstove project for them to receive due attention. Ten households were randomly selected in Ga-Boelang to participate in the surveys. The findings depicted a 90% usage rate in the village.

A women from one of the households issued with a cookstove.

On the second day of the site visit the main focus was on stakeholder engagement. Stakeholder engagements are conducted for the purpose of educating, interacting with and sharing information with community members. These sessions are a great platform for social learning where information is shared between the K2C/TASC and the stakeholders involved. Stakeholder engagement was conducted in Moroipuso Tribal Office in Acornhoek. The community members responded positively to the community engagement call resulting in attendance culminating at +-90 community members, including the village headman. The CSP’s introduced themselves and the project and interacted with community members. A list of members of the community who have not received cookstoves was collected, to arrange distribution. From the engagements, it was deduced that the majority of community members who have received the cookstoves are using them and have positive feedback. Only a few members of the community have not received cookstoves (this is receiving attention).   FUNDERS/PARTNERS: TASC SA, Moreipusho Tribal Authority

Historical gender biases in a modern world

– Cindy Koen If you had to look up the word ‘bias’ in the Oxford dictionary it describes it as an “inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair” or “cause to feel or show inclination or prejudice for or against someone or something”. Being gender biased is exactly that, however, has the potential to carry more weight. Sitting in on a gender workshop earlier this month, this became more apparent than ever, also more concerning. I was shocked to find that in today’s day and age with free access to information and news that some people still do not understand or acknowledge the role they have to play in gender equality and integration. There where two very distinct sides that stood out, both equally worrying. On the one side you have a group of young professionals seeking to find out how to identify gender based sexual harassment in the workspace. On the other side you have a group that cannot accept or understand why the manual only refers to she/her as the victim of gender-based violence and harassment. Historically, our societies have mostly been patriarchal and influenced social dynamics in a way that benefitted the male gender much more than other genders. Other genders (mostly female as other genders where not accepted) where discriminated, belittled, taken advantage off, and often abused. Women (and other genders) where left with very little say or power. Thankfully, times have changed, and other genders are now acknowledged and have been given more agency to effect change. But have they really? Looking at the young professionals who asked how they can identify sexual harassment alludes to the fact that, that is something that is actively happening (potentially from their seniors), but they are seeking confirmation that they are correct. They question you ask yourself is, would they ever have the free will or strength to report their seniors, or do they even have someone to report it to? Looking at the other side, it is clear that the historical gender (male) biased mentality has not left and is still prevailing. Both in terms of being defensive and justifying of one’s own ‘bad’ behaviour as well as in terms of the inability to adapt to change. The question we need to ask ourselves, is, where do we stand, and how can we grow to become better than what was perceived as the norm historically. FUNDERS/PARTNERS: Flanders