Velani Environmental Care

The Velani Environmental Care (VEC) project consists of a small group of beneficiaries of whom are all youths from Shakaskraal, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, who have recently registered their own enterprise. The main objective of the project was to address the decline of environmental health as a direct result of the major litter problem in the area. Litter infested areas have left the community with a negative perception of their environment, with waste management being a challenge and illegal dumping an unfortunate practice.

Velani Environmental Care (VEC) project has addressed these issues by recruiting 10 previously unemployed youths, who underwent an educational program with triple-P on the devastating effects of illegal dumping on environmental health, waste management practices to alleviate those effects and how community awareness of these issues can drive change and community upliftment. A subsequent training was conducted in litter picking and clearing, land restoration and pocket park implications.

The beneficiaries, under the guidance of triple-P, began implementing their training with practical solutions. Litter was removed from strategically selected areas, some of which had previously been illegal dumping sites, and creatively transformed into nature zones that would benefit the community. These zones include vegetable gardens providing supplementary nutrition to many households as well as a local park in which a playground was installed for children to socialise and participate in outdoor play. The playground was previously a dump site, which is now maintained by the beneficiaries and has greatly assisted in changing the negative perception the community has towards their environment as a direct result of the litter and its associative pollution.

The beneficiaries subsequently began a community awareness program in which they outlined the scope of work of the project, why it was important for the natural environment and reciprocally the community. They discovered, however, that group participation had less of an impact than when the awareness programs were conducted on a more personal level. Through this, the beneficiaries initiated a door-to-door campaign which involved addressing and raising awareness surrounding environmental health and litter on a household level, from which they managed to open communication lines with community members and received a more active response to the campaign.

The door-to-door campaign presents VEC with an opportunity to continuously engage with community members and thus understand their needs allowing the community to feel like part of the regeneration. The program highlighted how community members could become active participants in the project such as the collaboration with local subsistence farmers who worked with the Velani Environmental Care project to convert grass from dumping sites into compost. This direct engagement in which community members have become actively involved in the project, has greatly assisted the reputation of the VEC project.

To tackle the issue of waste management, the beneficiaries additionally began researching alternative ways to reuse a portion of the litter collected. Litter has been up-cycled into sellable arts and crafts as well as useful household items such as floor mats. The beneficiaries have use of a community centre located adjacent to the playground installed from which they hope to improve the facilities by establishing a recycling buy-back centre to encourage the community to recycle and realise the value of waste. This will also be a great income generation for the beneficiaries.

Please contact triple-P for more information on the Velani Environmental Care Project, and how you can become involved in supporting this initiative. To support them directly, please visit Support Our Projects.