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Hlengiwe Cele  
Mma Tshepo Khumbane‘s approach to poverty alleviation using water

The celebration of August as ‘Women’s  Month’ presents an opportunity to acknowledge  the role played by  women from the most vulnerable households who have fought and won the struggle against hunger.  A Social activist such as Mma Tshepo Khumbane, a well-known woman in rural development and food security circles, has worked with, mobilised, and inspired people on both local and international soil.

Mma Tshepo Khumbane is currently living on a plot outside Cullinan, near Pretoria, in the Dinokeng Local Municipality. Without any municipal water supply, she has for many years been collecting water from the nearby rivers and harvesting rainwater for growing vegetables on her plot.

Over the past 22 years, Mma Teshepo has worked as a grassroots activist, tackling the root causes and effects of poverty. Much of her work has been as a volunteer and she has benefited very little from donor or government funds.

Khumbane has mobilised community participants through her passion and single-minded drive to inspire groups to tackle poverty-related issues for and by themselves.

Today, Khumbane works as an independent development activist.  She is a board member of the Mvula Trust and a founder of the Water for Food Movement.

Through her work, she has demonstrated that it is possible to successfully apply many of the traditional African food production approaches on a plot having the average size of a homestead in the former homelands.

Her mind mobilisation approach inspires many villagers to see food production as a possibility amidst various challenges. By mobilising the mind and transferring skills, the Water for Food Movement encourages and enables food-insecure households to take responsibility for their own livelihoods, starting with food as a priority to liberate the minds and rebuild the family and the community as a primary institution for resocialisation of the youth and regeneration of values.

Khumbane’s approach is breaking the cycle of apathy, which is achieved by taking participants from the stage of helplessness into a stage of self-confidence and creativity to enable them to face the challenges of rebuilding their lives through their own initiatives.

The acquired skills are then shared during a seven-day workshop held at Khumbane’s home, which includes training in the following areas:

·         -Land and water design to capture and channel rainwater into food production beds

·        - Holistic approach to food security that encourages the practice of multi-cropping and the use of indigenous seeds to provide continuous food supply throughout the year 

·        - Food storage and processing

·         -Recycling of household organic waste for plant nutrition

After attending Khumbane’s workshops the participants exit from a situation which is not good for themselves or their households, to one of closely examining their everyday life.

Contact: Water Research Commission – info@wrc.org.za








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