Food gardens and sewing projects


Name:   Diocese of Kokstad

1.   Address of Project : “Holycross House”, 107 Hope Street; PO Box 65, Kokstad 4700.

2.   Details of contact person

Name : Anthony Ian

Surname : Ciro

Role : Projects Co-ordinator

Telephone : (039) 7272239 ; 0837759816

Fax : (039) 727 1151

Email address:

3.   History of Project / Diocese

3.1 Introduction

The area covered by the Kokstad Diocese does not correspond with local government or provincial demarcations in South Africa in that it straddles two provinces namely Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. In this section a brief demographic and socio-economic profile of the area is provided.
Most of the information provided in this section has been sourced from available documentation.

3.2.    Description of the area covered by the Kokstad Diocesan area

It is noted that apart from the Kokstad Town, which is located within the   Province of KwaZulu-Natal and which is where the Kokstad Diocesan management and administrative hub is located, the remaining area covered by the Diocesan is to be found in the Eastern Cape Province. “18,000 square kms of the Kokstad Diocese lies in The Eastern Cape Province and encompasses what was traditionally known as the Eastern Province, Border and North-Eastern Cape areas, as well as the former ‘homelands’ of Transkei and Ciskei”.
In KwaZulu-Natal Province is covered by the Sisonke District Municipality while in the areas covered in the Eastern Cape it covers the Districts of Alfred Nzo and O.R Tambo, with a small section falling into the Ukhalamba District. It is indicated that the work of the Diocesan specifically in relation to home based care covers approximately 350 rural villages and includes the following areas:-

It is estimated that the Kokstad Diocese has a population of approximately 2.5 million people.

3.3.    Demographic Profile

Of the 9 Provinces in South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape are two of the three most populated provinces with KZN having 21% and Eastern Cape having 19% of the national population. The age distribution of the populations is these provinces reflects a national trend namely that just under half of the population (48%) in these provinces is made up of children under 18 years.

•  KwaZulu –Natal

The province is demarcated for local governance in terms of 10 district municipalities with 54 local municipalities and 1 Metropolitan District.   The province is the second most densely populated province in South Africa. In KZN the Diocesan area includes the Kokstad Town and surrounding areas which fall under the municipal District of Sisonke.

The population of KZN is estimated at over 9 million with the Sisonke District which is included in the Kokstad Diocesan Area representing just over 4% of the provincial population. The District is predominantly rural (83.4%). The Gender profile of the district reflects a provincial trend with slightly more women (55%) then men (45%) residing in the district. More than two thirds of the area (63%) falls under Tribal Authorities. IsiZulu is the dominant language spoken in this province.

•  Eastern Cape

The Eastern Cape Province is demarcated into six district Municipalities and 1 metropolitan area. The total population within the Eastern Cape is just over 6 million with the second largest concentration of population within the OR Tambo District Municipality (30%). The Alfred Nzo District on the other hand has only 6% of population of the province. A small part of a third district the Ukhahlamba District is also included within the Kokstad Diocesan area and constitutes 5% of the provincial population. IsiXhosa is by far the dominant language with nearly 84% of the population speaking this language in the Eastern Cape. The racial profile of the Eastern Cape is 87.5% African race with 7.4% coloured race and 4.8% white.

The three districts are predominantly rural as indicated below:-
. Alfred Nzo District 95% rural
. O R Tambo District 84% rural
. Ukhahlamba District 72% rural

The gender profile in these three districts is in line with national trends which show a higher percentage of women (55%) to men (45%).

3.4.    Socio-Economic and Development Profile

South Africa , thirteen years after attaining democracy is characterized by vast inequalities of opportunity and access to infrastructure (including poverty levels, services, facilities, education, employment, and other desirable environments).


.1.      Economic Indicators

Access to income is a critical determinant of poverty and the patterns in both the provinces paint a picture of wide spread poverty and vulnerability.
KwaZulu-Natal is the second poorest province in South Africa. In the Sisonke District 35% of residents have no discernable income and a further 15% have an income per annum of less the R5000. The unemployment rate is 57% which is higher than the provincial average of 46%.
Eastern Cape is ‘the poorest province’ in South Africa and has ‘the twenty poorest towns’ in South Africa. In the Alfred Nzo , OR Tambo and Ukhahlamba Districts between 35-40% of the households have no income at all while a further 12 % of households have income levels of less than R5000 per annum. This coupled with the unemployment levels of 53% in Ukhahlamba District, 64% in Aflred NZO District and 66% in OR Tambo District makes this region among the poorest areas in the province and in South Africa.

3.4.2. Education Indicators

In Sisonke District 18% of the population had received no schooling with over half of those being elderly people. A further 36% of the population had received only primary school education.

In the three Eastern Cape District the education pattern was similar ranging from 18% of the population in Alfred NZO District having no education to 25% in OR Tambo District. Further more in all three districts approximately 36% of the population had only received primary school education.

3.4.3        Access to Services
In terms of access to services by residents in the Sisonke District the main source of water for 31% of households was from a river or dam while a further 29% had access to piped water. 69% of households had pit latrines and over 60 % of households relied on candles and fuel wood for energy sources.
Residents in the OR Tambo District are the most poorly served in terms of access to water with 55% reliant on rivers or dams for water in comparison with 32% of residents in Alfred NZO Districts and 16% of residents in the Ukhahlamba District. In terms of sanitation the Alfred NZO District is the worst performing with 64% of the population having access to pit latrines only, followed by just over a third of the population in the other two districts. With respect to energy sources 68% of residents in the Aflred NZO District rely on candles and fuel wood for energy, while in OR Tambo District and in Ukhahlamba District fuel wood and candles constitute energy sources for 58% and 36% of the population respectively.

Access to cell phones and telephones in Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal is less than the national average.

3.4.4. HIV and AIDS in KwaZulu-Natal
In 2002 the province that recorded the highest HIV prevalence rate among antenatal clinic attendees is KwaZulu-Natal with a rate of 36.5%. This is more than the 33.5% recorded in 2001. And similarly prevalence among women was 18.5% which is higher than that for men which is 13.8% . HIV prevalence is all age groups is significantly higher in KZN than elsewhere in South Africa.   Interestingly the survey shows no significant difference in prevalence for rural and urban areas. However within urban areas the survey found a higher prevalence rate for those living in informal settlements (26%) compared to those living in formal settlements (14%).

HIV and AIDS in the Eastern Cape

There is general consensus that the HIV prevalence data is estimated at between 8% and 11% of the population of the Eastern Cape. At a national level reliable data sources suggest that HIV prevalence is higher among Black Africans than in other race groups and the pattern in the Eastern Cape appears to be the same.

The figure given for HIV/Aids prevalence in the Eastern Province is 23.64%. With respect to prevalence data pertaining the youth the pattern is similar to that at a national level with 2% of male youth and 8% of female youth aged between 15-19 years are infected. This reflects a national trend of HIV prevalence rising faster among women. The gender difference is also reflected in the population data for the Eastern Cape which reveals that there has been a decrease in population in the female group between the ages of 15-35, which may be attributed to an increase in death rate due to HIV and Aids.
The figure given for HIV/Aids prevalence in OR Tambo District was reflected as 23.63%, while that for Alfred NZO District was 28.25%.

The general conclusion to be drawn about HIV prevalence is that although the epidemic grew at a slower rate initially in the Eastern Cape compared with nationally this situation has changed and the spread of HIV and AIDS in the Eastern Cape is now accelerating. Of concern is the fact that the HIV prevalence among youth has increased the fastest disproportionate to adult prevalence in the province as well as nationally. A further concern is the fact that female youth are four times more likely to be infected than male youth.

With respect to the situation of orphans and other vulnerable children it is estimated that as at 2003 there were approximately 116 000 orphans eligible for the foster care placement and that this would have trebled to 328 000 in 2010 and just over a half a million children by 2017. This data does not consider other vulnerable children who are generally those whose parents are ill and dying, those who have been abandoned, abused or severely neglected.

3.5      Emerging critical issues

South Africa has been characterized by inequalities of opportunity and access to infrastructure (including services, facilities, education, employment, and other desirable environments). The basis in provision manifested in the inter-and intra- provincial inequalities are still evident today.

Based on available data for both provinces, it is clear that the districts within which the Kokstad Diocese operates are among the poorest in South Africa and the available resources are not adequate to successfully deal with poverty in the province. Livelihood opportunities differ by race, gender and location, with the majority of African women located in these poor districts more negatively affected than the rest. The labour market conditions in these districts do not provide much encouragement with unemployment on the increase, especially among the women and the youth in rural areas. Since 1994 there has been an increasing effort to deliver social services in KwaZulu-Natal. Whereas there has been a general improvement, there are also variations by race, gender, and district, with those household locate in rural municipalities still facing incredible difficulties in accessing basic services.

While households and communities throughout Africa have shown remarkable capacity to cope with the effects of HIV/AIDS, including orphan care it is noted that even strong coping mechanisms often break down under the huge burden which this epidemic has imposed and it is recognized that communities /households with special features such as poverty and with a single parent or breadwinner as more vulnerable.

It is within this context that the interventions to be supported by the Diocese of Kokstad need to be considered.

4) Achievements Vegetable Garden Project

Br. Herman Engelhardt has, for the last two years, successfully provided training on a small scale in rural parts of the Eastern Cape whereby people are taught vegetable gardening for both subsistence and market purposes. He has trained people in small villages and schools in vegetable garden farming and marketing. It is intended that those trained will themselves assist with the training of fellow villagers. He has also assisted several rural schools in forming vegetable gardens.

A detailed report from Br Herman and the projects worked on this year include:

Dweba Secondary School.

About 45km from Mt Frere. Fencing for the school garden was erected and water tanks provided as there is a shortage of water. Planting is underway at will continue in the new school term.

Mpemba Primary School.

About 25km from Mt Frere. Water tanks also supplied. The garden is doing well and school feeding has started.

Simekweni Primary School

Fencing and water tanks provided. Training has taken place and the garden is providing.

Zwelakhe Senior Secondary School.

Fencing of the garden has taken place and the garden is being used successfully as a means of teaching the learners at the school more about agriculture.

Myila Primary School.

Fencing and water tanks provided. The garden is producing well.

Ndakeni Primary School.

The garden is now functioning and school feeding is taking place.

Cedarville School.

Only training and seedlings were provided. Feedind has started.

Fr Lucas’ Bambezela’s Village.

Water was brought from a well to two dwellings. There is water now for households and gardens. For the garden project a 500mm pipe was laid to the garden and planting should start in March next year.

Garden Project Lugangeni.

This garden project satted two years ago and is going so well that I am assisting in transporting their products to town for selling. This year we assisted in placing a second pipeline from the mountain to the garden to bring more water to the garden.

Mt Ayliff Mission Garden.

The garden has been fenced planted and is producing a lot of vegetables. The aim is to show the local people how to produce vegetables on a small piece of ground.
All the above schools and villages received training, and were supplied with tools, watering cans, fertilizer, etc. Seedlings are coming from our own nursery at Mt Frere. The projects already reported on in the previous year are also monitored.

4.1) Achievements Rural Women’s Initiative

The Bishop has provided finances for 70 young women, to date, to receive training by means of a two year course in Dressmaking at Marianhill and a year course at Ukhanyo Skills Centre – Mthatha. This is an ongoing initiative and at present there are young women receiving training.

A centre has been provided for the women which is fully equipped with sewing machines and overlockers. A lot of the women who started off in the sewing room have found jobs during the year and have moved on. The women who graduate from Mariannhill and Ukhanyo will be able to utilise the room in the New Year. The existing sewing hubs continue to run and have been re-stocked with new machines.

5) Challenges
Br. Herman faces an area which has little history in vegetable gardening, a high incidence of HIV/AIDS, irregular rainfall and limited access to water. The area he works in is very remote and a challenging task to get from one village to the next. Even though the success achieved so far has been noteworthy, it is very limited in terms of the region as a whole and the number of people involved.
Even though the young women involved have been given basic management skills on return home they are in isolated villages which make the acquisition of materials in centres such as Durban and Port Shepstone very difficult and costly. Culturally younger women have difficulty in controlling older customers/ debtors.
Difficulties are also experienced with: money and material management: pricing; finding markets; sewing machine repairs and failures, both mechanical and electrical; the evaluation of products and dealing with customer complaints; and finding jobs in the growing tourist market.