Since June this year, the organisation SEED is a partner organisation of the Lemonaid & ChariTea Foundation. They implement the project “Seeding Futures” which offers the unemployed youth in the Cape Flats, a district of Cape Town, training for a job in a sustainable industry. This way, the project aims to contribute to increasing the climate resilience of the region and to tackle the unemployment rates among the youth. The water crisis in 2018 has made this problem more acute than ever, especially in low-income districts such as the Cape Flats. The project makes use of natural concepts by teaching permaculture to address the uncertainties of climate change and to offer young people a sustainable chance of financial independence.
The organisation SEED arose from a permaculture project implemented at a school. The Founder Leigh Brown initially pursued the goal of helping children and adolescents to reconnect to nature and their environment and used outdoor classrooms in less prosperous schools and communities as a fundament for this project. Based on the large request from school graduates for subsequent “green” educational and vocational opportunities, the idea was born for a further training programme regarding climate resilience, to qualify unemployed young people for the green labour market. This project started in the Cape Flats in Cape Town and targets two of the biggest local problems: The high youth unemployment and the low capacity of the coastal area to adapt to climate change.
The two faces of a growing economy
In post-apartheid South Africa, the reality of life is still is characterised by discrimination and influences the possibilities and inequalities, especially for the residents living in the townships. The Cape Flats in Mitchells Plain were designated by the apartheid government around 1950 as a settlement area for non-white South Africans, who were no longer tolerated in the city center. To date, the Cape Flats still are a disadvantaged region in Cape Town, but also the source of many important cultural movements such as South African hip-hop. The traces left behind by apartheid still characterise the lives of many young people who grow up in poorer circumstances and, surrounded by high unemployment, are unable to relate to professional jobs. Access to qualitative education is limited and for the majority of young people it is difficult to access it, even in financial terms. This results not only in a high dropout rate but also in high youth unemployment, which is insufficiently trained for most jobs in South Africa’s booming economy.
In a global comparison of countries, South Africa is represented with general high rates of unemployment and, with an unemployment rate of over 60% among young people aged 15-24, it is only gradually on the road to recovery.
Permaculture as a tool for finding solutions
SEED considers the gap in young people’s skills and the increasing droughts and climate shocks not only as a problem, but also as a solution. This reality urgently calls for sustainable and economical alternatives. In order to create a livelihood for the young people, they are trained in the fundamentals of permaculture. The concept of permaculture is a culture of sustainable ways of life and land use. In particular, natural processes from nature will be adapted in order to make processes in agriculture and land use, for example, as resource-saving and sustainable as possible. By using the resources provided by nature, the implementation of a construct is accessible to anyone who has acquired the knowledge and skills.
The resources from nature and the potential of young people thus form the starting points for SEED’s innovative “Seeding Futures” training programme. The young people are trained over a period of four months. The first month’s of theoretical classes teach students the basics of permaculture and design, urban development and examine ecosystems in the context of local and global sustainability. In the subsequent practical phase, interviews will be conducted and climate-resistant constructs designed, which will be sampled in the neighbourhood in smaller groups. In addition, the programme prepares young people for their career entry with job application trainings and coaching sessions. The programme will be concluded with the help of local green business partners in Cape Town, who will give the young people a full month’s chance to gain insights into company management and to get to know the sustainability side in the economy. Within the next three years the project aims to train 300 young people.
Saving resources and strengthening the neighbourhood
One of the ideas that came out the trainings was to make a household more resistant through the development through a specially developed planter for a water-saving vegetable bed. Through using the water basin and the right arrangement of plants and soil, this bed consumes 80% less water, compared to the ordinary ones, and relieves the family of the burden of saving water during periods of drought. Another group created a community garden accessible to the neighbourhood, planted with local and medical seeds and supplied with the recycled water collected by the roofs.
Alongside these examples, 48 households with smaller permaculture designs and 48 community concepts have already been implemented, ensuring that many resources are saved, new financial opportunities arise and climate resistance is increased . Throughout their training, young people are encouraged to set up their own small businesses or to join already existing ones.
The support of the Lemonaid & ChariTea Foundation covers all the salaries of the teachers of the four month programme and also covers the costs for the practical workshops. The project not only gives the young people a perspective for the future by expanding their skills, motivation and knowledge, but also contributes to drive local change in terms of climate resilience and contributes to the green economy of the neighborhood. Find the solutions in local problems is what makes our work with local project partners so exiting.