Earlier this month, the Proud of my Town programme kicked off officially in the INK (Inanda, Ntuzuma and KwaMashu) area in Durban when our team hosted an interactive activation workshop at a local community hall.

A big thank you to the 91 participants from multiple sectors who joined in this first workshop. These included representatives from the eThekwini Municipality, local NPOs, youth in business, schools, ECD centres, community safety and liaison organisations, and PoMT sponsor, Nedbank.

You have a voice
Our activation workshops give local communities a voice. This is where our team of urban planners and development specialists gain a better understanding of the real challenges facing the community, strengths and opportunities, and the oft hidden gems in the community who are already making a difference. This is where you speak – and we listen. (And the listening will not end here!)

The data we gather at this interactive DNA mapping exercise makes it possible for our team to gather information that provides valuable insight into the well-being of the area. This data goes a long way towards guiding decision-making in collaboration with community stakeholders when it comes to identifying the types of programmes and projects that would have the greatest impact.

From what’s wrong to what’s strong
Some of the key issues identified at the INK activation workshop included the need for employment opportunities, mostly for young people, improvement of the quality of youth programmes in the area (including after-school programmes), school safety, more crime prevention activities, improved access to technology, increasing the number of shelters, and the need to improve the water supply in the area which has been severely affected by the floods.
Our activation workshops are not only about pointing out challenges and problems, though. These workshops also introduce us to the resources and strengths within these communities. These could be individuals who are already making a difference in the area; NGOs and NPOs who have a deep understanding of community pain points, as well as businesses, faith-based organisations, forums, the local municipality and other stakeholders who are already working to tackle local socio-economic challenges.

For example, workshop participants highlighted the immense potential of the many young people in the INK area, where a Youth in Business Forum is already active, bringing together young people who are involved in a variety of businesses.

Collaboration is key
Ranyaka does not reinvent the wheel. In every area where we work, we actively seek out partners such as these who are already working in an area. We connect, build local networks and explore ways in which, together, we can implement an integrated plan to help bring solutions to issues plaguing these areas – a plan that has been developed hand-in-hand with the local community.

Although the activation workshop only took place in August, we have been working in KwaMashu since the devastating floods hit the province in mid-April 2022. Here, we already started forging valuable connections with local change agents – relationships that we will build upon in the journey that awaits.

What’s next?
Looking ahead, stakeholders who attended the activation workshop as well as role players who have crossed our path since then, will be invited to attend a feedback session where we will be sharing the outcome of the initial workshop. That’s where we present a proposed plan of action to the community – and where the community has the opportunity to give further input and feedback.

If you are a resident, stakeholder or interested party in one of these areas and you would like to attend the follow-up meeting in your area, please contact Andile Mafa at andile@ranyaka.co.za or Lesego at lesego@ranyaka.co.za.

Photos: Geoff Redman, OD Media

The INK area is one of 21 communities in 8 provinces across South Africa where Ranyaka is implementing the Nedbank Proud of my Town programme – a first-of-its-kind, holistic community development initiative that is built on the principles of sustainable investment, collaboration, active citizenry and planning with the broader eco system in mind.