Hope amidst the havoc – Proud of my Town responds to the KwaZulu-Natal flooding crisis

The devastating floods that ravaged KwaZulu-Natal in April 2022 will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the greatest natural disasters to ever hit the province. Entire settlements were swept away. The damage to homes, businesses, roads and infrastructure amounts to billions, whilst the human tragedy, trauma and loss of lives cannot even be quantified.

When the sun rose on Tuesday 19 April, the long road to bring restoration began. The immediate need was for humanitarian relief. Entire communities lost everything. Families were left without a roof over their heads, stranded amidst the rubble of what they once called home. Many had no access to drinking water, food or shelter for days on end – and in many parts of Durban, this situation continues.

Ubuntu in action

In the true spirit of Ubuntu, the crisis also brought with it the overnight mass mobilisation of national and local NGOs, businesses, faith-based organisations, willing volunteers and generous individuals from across the country who, together, rallied to intervene where it was needed most. 

Above: Thank you to the Domino Foundation and SA Harvest for supporting our flood relief efforts in Umlazi and the Inanda/Ntuzuma/KwaMashu (INK) areas.

Proud of my Town – mobilising for relief

Through its non-profit implementation agent, Ranyaka Community Transformation, the Nedbank Proud of my Town (PoMT) programme joined in the relief efforts. Umlazi and KwaMashu townships, both affected by the flooding, are two of the 21 communities across the country where the PoMT initiative is being rolled out.

During the first three weeks after the disastrous flooding, the PoMT team stepped into a coordination role – partnering with local, trusted NGOs to do detailed needs assessments at a total of 14 municipal community halls and other sites where over 300 displaced families are being housed temporarily. These sites are located in Umlazi, Inanda, Ntuzuma and KwaMashu (the greater INK area). The PoMT programme also supported relief efforts through donations (see below) to the amount of over R100000.

Above: PoMT local coordinator in Umlazi, Ranyaka’s Andile Mafa, engages with representatives from Inqwele Community Development who provided volunteers to assist with food preparation in community halls.

Above: A child whose family has been displaced by the flooding, sleeps in one of the community halls in Umlazi. On 24 April 2022, authorities reported that at the time, 7245 people were being housed in temporary shelters where they were being supported by the Department of Social Development, SASSA and NGOs. As at 24 April, official reports indicated that over 17 000 households and 121 687 people had been affected by the floods.

Connecting the dots

The need for coordination, effective communication with multiple stakeholders providing emergency relief and accurate information from the ground is critical in times of disaster. Here, the PoMT coordinators and team at the Ranyaka head office tapped into strong local networks to provide rapid response. This ranged from raising the alert for the need for drinking water and hiring tents as temporary shelter for a group of 200 displaced individuals, to liaising with food relief organisations, volunteers and co-sponsors to unlock emergency supplies.

Above: On the right wearing the green shirt is acting PoMT coordinator in KwaMashu, Ranyaka’s Malusi Mazibuko. Malusi (a programme manager in Ranyaka’s Tshwane office) joined the Durban team from Gauteng to offer hands-on support and assist with coordination of flood relief efforts. Malusi hails from KwaMashu. This is his home – and here lies his heart.

Above: A member of the extended PoMT family in Durban, Guy Campbell (left), is usually involved in food gardens projects in Umlazi. Guy volunteered his time and energy towards flood relief efforts. Thank you, Guy!

Meeting real needs

Responding to on-the-ground needs identified by Ranyaka, the Nedbank Proud of my Town programme has, to date, also supported the KZN flood relief efforts in Umlazi and the Inanda, Ntuzuma and KwaMashu (INK) area through the donation of:

– Fresh vegetables, meat, infant formula and other infant care products;

– 150 food hampers to learners from two schools whose families were particularly hard hit by the disaster;

– 50 food hampers for an Early Childhood Development centre that is taking care of elderly people affected by the floods; and

– Art supplies for children being housed at a number of community halls. This donation was the catalyst for a Ranyaka initiative to work alongside mental health professionals and trauma counsellors to start providing communities with creative resource boxes to help facilitate emotional healing for those affected by the flooding

PoMT funding to the amount of over R100 000, as well as Nedbank Greenbacks to the value of R29 000 donated to the Community option by Nedbank clients, also enabled the PoMT team to hire two tents to provide temporary shelter for a community of 200 individuals at Inhlungwane (KwaMashu), provide temporary toilet facilities, and purchase two gas stoves for outdoor cooking, as well as large urns to prepare warm beverages in two community halls.

Above: Learners at two schools in Umlazi received food hampers sponsored by the Nedbank Proud of my Town programme to help support their families who had been particularly hard hit by the flooding.

Above: The formidable team at the Gugu Dlamini Foundation, PoMT/Ranyaka local implementation partner in KwaMashu, is working tirelessly to prepare cooked meals for community halls in the area. The Nedbank PoMT programme sponsored vegetables, meat and infant care products for distribution via the Foundation. At the bottom left is the head of the Foundation, Mandisa Dlamini, who is responsible for managing the process to ensure that food and other vital supplies reach those who need it most.

The power of presence

The past three weeks have also, once again, testified to the power of being there. Being involved hands-on. Giving that extends beyond money. Whilst short-term relief and long-term rebuilding are both simply impossible without generous financial contributions, the process of deep-rooted restoration also needs willing hands, a listening ear and the building of bridges between the victims who are often voiceless – and those who are in a position to help. In this regard, the PoMT implementation team has been instrumental in connecting needs with resources that will continue to support the relief efforts for weeks to come.

Above: PoMT local coordinator in Umlazi, Ranyaka’s Andile Mafa, working to unload a minibus full of supplies donated by the SANI Community Forum and community of Underberg in the KZN Midlands. 

Stronger, together

By being involved hands-on and being present on the ground, the PoMT/Ranyaka team has not only been able to gain a real picture of the need on the ground and respond to this need – they have forged meaningful connections and new relationships. They have demonstrated Nedbank and Ranyaka’s very authentic commitment to the well-being of these communities.

They not only delivered food hampers – they have delivered a powerful message.

We are in this together. And together, we are stronger.

Above: Some of the members of the volunteer team at the Gugu Dlamini Foundation in KwaMashu – the heroes on the ground!

Above: There has not been a lot of sitting around over the course of the past few weeks. Here, photojournalist Mary-Ann Palmer asked Mduduzi Nhlumayo to pause for a moment. Mduduzi (Mdu) has been working tirelessly alongside PoMT local coordinator in Umlazi, Andile Mafa, who refers to Mdu as ‘Superman’. Thank you, Mdu!

Thank you

Collaboration lies at the very heart of the PoMT model and Ranyaka philosophy. Bringing positive socio-economic transformation to South Africa – and responding to crises such as these – is not a task that any single organisation or business can tackle. Thank you to every corporate, co-sponsor, relief organisation, volunteer, storyteller and photographer that has partnered with us during this time – and to all of who continue to provide vital, on-the-ground support to help bring restoration in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

These include the Gugu Dlamini Foundation (KwaMashu), the Centre for Community Development (Umlazi), Sisabhekile Health Care Centre (Umlazi), Inqwele Community Development (Umlazi), Heal our Land, the Domino Foundation, SA Harvest, Unilever South Africa, the Hollywood Foundation, the SANI Community Forum, the community of Underberg, Clouds of Hope, the African Odyssey Network, Big Mama’s Famous Truth Shop, Ocean Driven Media and Be Relevant. Special thanks also to the Durban Chamber of Commerce who have been instrumental in connecting the Proud of my Town implementation team with resources and vital information to enable us to implement relief efforts effectively.

Images by OD Media (Wade Howard & Geoff Redman) and Mary-Ann Palmer.

Umlazi and KwaMashu townships are two out of 21 communities nationally that form part of Nedbank’s Proud of my Town initiative for which Ranyaka Community Transformation is the implementation agent.