1999 Winner
Northern Cape Province, South Africa
Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust
Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust
South Africa
The Lubisi Dam Development Forum was formed in response to the construction of the nearby dam which threatened the poverty stricken Lubisi district of the Transkei. The surrounding 23 villages had been reliant on subsistence crop farming, and the removal of their water source meant other income needed to be developed. The forum consists of representatives from each village, and from the transitional local councils, together with advisers from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria, and the Land Bank.

Following a survey to determine the priorities of the villagers, it was found that a clean water supply, the provision of electricity and roads, and the support for small, medium and micro enterprises were top of the list. The overall goal of the project was to generate income in the communities, and ensure that this income would remain in circulation in these communities. This is the principle underlying the spectrum of development activities that make up this unique project.

The first step was the erection of a development centre. The community participated in the building of the centre, manufacturing bricks, hand mixing the concrete, collecting local thatch and using a mixture of traditional and modern building methods and styles. This participation ensured that the centre was built for a quarter of the initial construction costs.

The Forum has also ensured that villagers have access to clean water by constructing tanks with zinc shelters and pipe systems, which are serviced by the Forum. Job creation projects have also sprung out of the forum: sewing projects, play schools and day-care centres, fence-making and fishing projects are run from a factory next to the development centre. With the help of a private company in Scotland, a number of wind turbines were installed in the area, and that wind power (which automatically switches over to generator power in wind-free conditions) drove the many development projects that followed.

Many community members have received training in road-building, plumbing and other skills that enable them to tender for new projects that arise in the area serviced by the forum. In addition, a Local Business Centre has been established to assist with capacity building and incubation of the businesses that will start as a result of the project.

Central to the Lubisi project is the concept of the sustainable village which uses its own electricity which is generated from the nearby dam. The water is then used for crops and to put running water and a sewerage system into every home. The provincial government is impressed by the success of the project, and wants to replicate the model elsewhere.

"The Lubisi Dam Development Forum believes that the way to create wealth in rural areas is to keep money circulating within those communities." Mlungiseleli Tikolo, Forum Director

Innovation: The development strategy was devised to meet the changing circumstances and contexts, and has resulted in economic benefits to the surrounding communities. All development initiatives have been based on the central idea of the sustainable village, which is both economically self-sufficient and ecologically sensitive. The project encompasses a wide geographical area, pooling the skills and resources of 23 small rural settlements, and ensuring that economic benefits of development remain within these communities.
Poverty impact: The development project was initiated in a poverty stricken rural area, which was threatened with further hardship because of the development of the nearby dam; however, training and income generation projects have ensured the economic well-being of the approximately 80 000 people living in its area of operation.
Replication: The Lubisi area is functioning as a small but self-sustaining and economical municipality. The provincial government is aware of its success and is trying to replicate the model in other impoverished rural areas.
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