The NRA entered into a partnership with the Sitebe-Komkulu community, the Eastern Cape Provincial Government and Administration and the Dalindyebo Tribal Authority and Kei District Council. The approach encompassed the direct involvement of the Sitebe-Komkulu community, with the objectives of having the community doing the work themselves, and taking ownership of a project that would otherwise have remained in the hands of the experts.
120 community members received basic skills training, regardless of their educational background. Non-literate people were trained using hands-on, practical methods involving visual demonstration and on-the-job training. Literate members of the community received formal training accredited by the Civil Engineering Industry Training Board (CEITB), which included pipe-laying, laying stone-and-wing-walls, laying proper road materials in the course of road construction, in addition to business skills. A pass rate of 92% was achieved, and the training imparted sustainable lifelong skills and a transfer of technology.
A project management team included a social consultant appointed by the premier's office, to oversee the process and ensure social integration of all the players, and traditional leaders who were appointed as the main consultants and liaison persons. Local knowledge of the topography, water run-off, springs and geology were integral to the project design. The Department of Public Works was also involved through supplying plant and operators. Conscious efforts were made to ensure full participation of women in the process.
In addition to developing a high quality road linking the village to the national road, the project included a range of other benefits. Employment was created for local people, 70% of whom were women, in a region characterized by rural poverty. The project was deliberately designed to be labour-based to maximize employment creation, and the poorest households were earmarked for employment opportunities. Other benefits of project were heightened community organization, training and skills transfer and the encouragement of small-scale contractors.
The financial investment in the project was not large, and the benefits have been incalculable. The road gives access to further economic opportunities, and members of the community now have the capacity to form businesses or seek alternative sustainable employment opportunities. The local community itself is eager to participate in new projects modeled on this one.
"We could have built this road using technology to save time and money; but we made a commitment to community participation and involvement, and the training of people to leave behind something lasting" Nazli Allen, Executive Officer, NRA.