Ubunye works with communities in the Ngqushwa and Makana local municipal districts of South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. Our work is concentrated in the former homeland of the Ciskei, an area which was deliberately neglected and underdeveloped during apartheid and where the legacy of this era is reflected starkly by intergenerational and structural poverty.
What skills and resources were you able to draw from the community for this project?
The history of our country means that the potential of a large section of our population has never been recognised. Rural people have a wealth of knowledge, skills and strengths that has been neglected because of a system that denied them agency as full citizens and the right to realise their own potential. The damage done has led people to internalise this mind-set; sometimes manifested in dependency and apathy. Psycho-social development and healing must take place in order for people to realise their ability to create positive change in their own lives and communities.
Ubunye works with communities in the Ngqushwa and Makana local municipal districts of South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. Our work is concentrated in the former homeland of the Ciskei, an area which was deliberately neglected and underdeveloped during apartheid and where the legacy of this era is reflected starkly by intergenerational and structural poverty. The area is highly water scarce and environmentally degraded and communities are feeling the effects of climate change.
Addressing the challenges
We are regularly humbled by the tenacity of people to overcome the harshest of circumstances and the creative coping mechanisms they employ to survive and even thrive. We are witness to individuals and families who have experienced repeated shocks and crises and somehow manage to keep going with minimal, if any, safety nets. We have much to learn from this and our challenge is to support people in building on their existing strengths whilst working tirelessly to create a more enabling environment.
Ubunye’s savings and credit group programme is currently being implemented in 26 communities with a membership of 2600 people (85% of whom are women). To date the combined value of the groups’ financial assets is nearly ZAR4 million. The first level of impact that members report is the ability to escape indebtedness to predatory ‘loan sharks’ and the relief that this brings. To provide a few examples, members have been able to improve their lives materially through the renovation and upgrading of their homes, purchase of furniture and household goods and to invest in agricultural activities and the establishment of micro-enterprises in order to generate income for their families.