2002 Winner
Western Cape Province, South Africa
Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust
Sponsored By:
Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust
South Africa
During March 2000, the catchment area of Gamka River experienced high intensity rainfall that caused large-scale floods and flood damage. Of particular interest was the erosion that took place near the town of Calitzdorp. More that a 1000 metres along the river was seriously eroded, washing away orchards and vineyards on the riverbank for a width of more than 120 metres from the river including the Irrigation Board's canal. A project was started in November 2001 to repair the damage caused by the floods. Other objectives included providing a cost effective solution to prevent further washing away of the Gamka River bank, to provide an environmental acceptable solution, to make maximum use of manual labour, to alleviate poverty. Finally, to build capacity by training the unemployed local people and hereby assist them to find future employment.

Innovation: The canal had to be repaired as a matter of urgency to reinstate water supply to the irrigated fields but the six meter high riverbank was still extremely vulnerable to erosion. It was decided to build a series of groyns (A groyn is a wall built at a right angle with the riverbank, anchored into the riverbank and protruding into the river) in the river to prevent further erosion and to promote natural vegetation to establish itself downstream of the groyns on the riverbank. Funding for the project was obtained through innovative methods. The Provincial Government of the Western Cape provided funds from their Poverty Alleviation Budget, and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) provided the balance of the funding from their Flood Relief Budget. This innovative and valuable partnership between the National and Provincial Governments facilitated a solution that was innovative and effective.

Effectiveness: The benefits of the project are three fold: - Firstly the canal, the vineyards and the orchards are now protected against erosion. Secondly, the local unemployed community benefited from the employment created during the 3.5 months' construction period. Finally, the National and Provincial Government benefited by proving that service delivery can be provided through innovative and effective solutions to complicated problems.

Poverty Impact: As in many rural areas, the unemployment of Calitzdorp was relatively high; the project was designed to make optimal use of manual labour. The result was that on average 100 people were employed and of these 45% were women. Finally, the local community has been trained as sub-contractors to deliver these services in future.

Sustainability: These people can now use their skills to gain employment in similar setting.
Replication: This project can be replicated where floods have caused damage and are quite easily replicated.

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