AFRICA · South Africa
Boosting the “Wild Coast communities”
Since finishing high school, Nokwanda Langazana (32) has been an activist for the Wild Coast communities against the commercial development of Sun International Hotels. Having been forcefully removed along with her family due to this development project, Nokwanda has said it is in her bloodline “to fight for the integrity” of her community.
In 2003 she joined the land and tourism initiative CoConnected, a program of the South African alliance of Slum Dwellers, an international housing NGO for Pro Poor urban and rural development. Nokwanda quickly became the Program Manager of CoConnected and expanded the network to 13 communities. In 2006 she relaunched the organization as the Alliance of Rural Communities (ARC), with approximately 5,000 beneficiaries to date between Bizana, Port St. John’s and Coffee Bay.
The ARC is a network of rural poor communities that ensures a holistic approach of the communities by mobilizing them around their own resources and capabilities to address those challenges that most affect them. Residents in these local communities are suffering from dire living conditions without access to basic services such as electricity, water, and safe homes. Through raising environmental awareness, strengthening clusters and implementing projects for income generation, ARC aims to improve the livelihoods of those affected in Wild Coast communities.
ARC’s new focus is on green education in 11 schools, where ARC runs workshops, teaches about waste recycling, and has started nurseries. The aim is to inform youth about the unique relationship human beings have with the environment and the financial benefits that can result from that.
Nokwanda’s work with the ARC is inspiring. Through creative and innovative approaches, ARC aims to capacitate the rural poor to redesign their natural habitat in a sustainable way. With regards to financial sustainability, ARC capacitates the rural poor with technical and professional assistance, thus creating a multiplier effect without dependence.
Through providing the rural communities with environmental education and a holistic approach to strengthen their voice in communal processes, the ARC has opened up a framework that can be easily replicated in other challenged rural areas throughout South Africa and other countries.