To the north west of King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape’s Border region is Keiskammahoek, an area inhabited by several Xhosa rural communities.
The area, which gets its name from its Khoekhoen roots, means “puffadder river” or “glittering water”, lies in a basin at the meeting of the Keiskamma and Gxulu rivers, below the Amatola Mountains.
The beauty of the area and its agricultural potential is in stark contrast to the high levels of unemployment and poverty experienced by the villagers.However, with the right interventions, the potential of the area’s people and natural resources can be unlocked as has been proven by the efforts of the Siyakholwa Development Foundation.
Mission and Vision
Siyakholwa is a public benefit organization whose mission is to alleviate poverty by creating and managing sustainable projects that facilitates job creation and develops vibrant healthy communities for the participating 37 poor rural villages in Keiskammahoek and beyond.
The foundation’s support which aims to create long-term viability and sustainability includes finance, project management, administration as well as technical assistance, training and mentoring.
Technical and life skills are transferred through the foundation’s internship and mentorship programmes. This is done during implementation with the help of experienced mentors and trainers who manage the various community programmes.
Siyakholwa’s vision is to be an effective organization providing leadership and capacity building resources to empower and transform poor rural communities to be sustainable and vibrant.
Practical mentorship and support
While mentors walk each step with the community so that plans are followed accurately and on time, the foundation encourages accountability by all role players with the funding bodies. People who hold positions of responsibility understand that “the buck stops” with them and they willingly take full responsibility for their roles. Mentorship and technical support includes:
- • Use of a payroll system which streamlines the payment of 6,000 monthly employees through the Community Work Programme.
- • The transfer of management skills to local people who manage contracts, attendance records, various human resources services and conflict management.
- • The transfer of technical skills to local people who now service and repair tractors and vehicles, schools, hospitals, creches and community buildings.
• Human resources support
• Conflict resolution and training
The Siyakholwa Development Foundation’s core skills are: Expertise, experience, on-site supervision, strong administration support and committed local labour: Four reasons for choosing the foundation as a project implementer.
- An experienced managment team controls the finances and overall project management. They ensure that administrative systems such as accounting and payroll are in place and meet audit requirements.
- Strong project management skills together with technical support and field managers supervise operations at the micro level and ensure the project plan is followed.
- The Siyakholwa Development Foundation’s efficient office clerks control human resource documentation, attendance records and data capture for the various projects. The team can be hired to assist in other projects.
- There is sufficient labour in the area as a result of the huge response to the Community Work Programme.
Training or skills development is the key to the sustainability of the projects and the area. The foundation’s employees benefit from a wide variety of training such as first aid, computer literacy, financial life skills, basic bookkeeping, general administration, and leadership training.
Other training includes vegetable and maize planting, compost-making, vermiculture, nursery operations, planting out and caring of the fields.
Local resources are used in projects and given training and mentorship so that they are competent in roles such as supervisors, managers, wage clerks and administrative clerks. An increasing number of employees are computer literate and have obtained driver’s licences.
Key management and oversight in the foundation’s nursery, roller mill, distillation plant, community works programme, rose geranium and paprika fields are carried out by people who have been trained and mentored by the foundation. Many had no previous work experience before being employed by the Siyakholwa Foundation.
Key to the success of the projects is the community support which is based on vibrant relationships, developed with civic organizations and government. It includes winning the communities’ full buy-in for projects as well as providing regular feedback to the community.
Siyakholwa Development Foundation were chosen to be the site were President Jacob Zuma launched the phase 3 of the Expanded Public Works Programme on the 3rd of October 2014. There were over 3000 people who attended this day and SDF were privileged to host President Jacob Zuma, Ministers of Parliament, and a host of government leaders. We were acknowledged by the President as a model site in the country.
On the 26th of November 2014 Siyakholwa Development Foundation won the Kamoso Awards for the best CWP project in the country.