A rural development organisation that recruits and supports health-care workers has already seen results after attending Towards Carnegie III.

Now the Umthombo Youth Development Foundation, which operates in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, is about to go nation-wide thanks to a discussion between its director, Dr Gavin MacGregor and Aaron Daviet, who is Political Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Cape Town.

“The [Towards Carnegie III] conference was not in vain. While others were still breaking down the ideas to tackle poverty on different levels, we are already planning to bring together our forces and continue doing what we are already doing to bring about immediate change”, said MacGregor.

The UYDF recruits and supports rural youth to become qualified health care professionals in order to address the critical shortage of health-care workers in rural hospitals. In the process, it hopes to improve the health care in rural communities.

Nguni cattle are being used in poor rural communities to strengthen local stock.

This hardy cattle breed, indigenous to Southern Africa, can withstand most tick-borne diseases and are generally low-maintenance. This makes them ideally suited for poorer communities, explained Vuyano Somyo, project manager of the Eastern Cape Nguni Cattle Development Trust.

Nguni cattle survive on grass and require little to no medicine or food supplements, Somyo says. Most small-scale rural cattle are generic; they are mixed masala rather than thoroughbreds. The goal of the Nguni Cattle Development Trust is to improve the quality and quantity of village stock by introducing more Nguni genes in the cattle pool.

Before there was mining in South Africa, there was wool. Long before mining impacted rural South Africa, wool “made a contribution to the development of rural towns for two centuries.”

And, says Leon de Beer, General Manager of the National Wool Growers’ Association (NWGA), it can play an equally important social role today for new and emerging producers in South Africa.”

In fact, the NGWA’s Wool Sheep Development Programme has already enabled rural families to access global markets.

Between 2004 and 2009, among the families of the 17,000 Eastern Cape farmers targeted by the programme, the number of homes in which children went to bed hungry decreased by almost 16%.

Dairy farms are under constant pressure to expand, or go under.

This is the finding of studies presented this week to Towards Carnegie III at UCT.

According to Pauline Stanford, from UWC’s Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), it costs an estimated R15 – 20 million to start up a commercial dairy farm of 400 cows today. It’s a tough business, she says, and farmers in the Underberg region have to constantly expand their farms to keep their business alive.

“It’s a treadmill effect,” explained Raymond Auerbach, Professor of Soil Science and Plant Production at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Farms have to get bigger to keep running on the same spot. In other words, farm expansion maintains steady income.

“It is increasingly difficult for small to medium-scale farming to remain economically and environmentally sustainable, and there’s trend towards an agriculture sector dominated by large-scale farms serving the elite of the agro-industry,” said Stanford .

About 10 years ago Agatha* started her own sewing business through the Jubilee Community Church, where her aim was to help marginalised women like herself to make a living.

Agatha, a refugee from The Democratic Republic of Congo, moved to South Africa more than 20 years ago in the hope of a better living.

She called the business Umoja (meaning unity in Swahili), a sewing and embroidery enterprise that primarily helps refugee women to have a meaningful job in their lives.

Before she approached the church, Agatha didn’t have any income of her own and depended on her husband’s income. Since sewing is her passion, she felt that she could start something where many displaced women like herself could be empowered through sewing and embroidery work.

Agatha pitched her business plan through the Jubilee Community Church’s Business Empowering and Skills Training initiative (BEST). The church recognized the need to have assistance programs to help small businesses going. The BEST initiative is thus aimed at training people how to think and develop their business ideas as well as gain business skills.

Carnegie3 News rounded up some conference participants and asked them what the most important lesson was that they had learnt this week.

Dr Teboho Pitso, Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Vaal University
“I have learnt that there is potential for the successful implementation of the National Development Plan, but potential is not an opportunity. Commitment of resources, time and energy could help us convert the potential to the opportunity.”

Associate Professor Annemarie Hattingh, Department of Science Education
“The heart is there. All the goodwill is there. Tons of knowledge on how to start doing what is right for the country has been said. Now we need hardworking men and women as well as learners to make the potential a reality.”

Liesel Bakker, Ikamva Youth
“I have learnt so much from other NGOs about how they keep things sustainable. Some of them are doing really interesting things in creating income generation.
But the best thing I will take away with me is the people I have met and what I have learnt about what else is happening out there. Often as an NGO, you work in isolation. It has been so interesting to learn that other people grapple with the same issues we do. “

Debbie Lees, Monash South Africa
“Together, our NGOs and the private sector are making a huge impact on society. There needs to be a physical space from which all the ideas and practices can be drawn – so that everyone can benefit.”

Leading voices in South Africa’s labour law arena have said that failures to adjust to a changing labour economy led to the massacre at Marikana, and that mechanisms are too rigid for the current economy.
Director of the CCMA, Nerine Khan, told Towards Carnegie III on Thursday morning that while labour policies are sound, their effectiveness is being undermined by an inflexible system, and that ordinary workers have been alienated by both the employer and trade unions.

Referring to Marikana, Khan said although the workers had gone on an unprotected strike, “quite frankly, they don’t care.” The workers had told the CCMA “They don’t want trade unions because the unions had not delievered to them.” The rise of violence reminded her of the Apartheid era. “I feel like I woke up in 80s.”

The situation is complicated by workers feeling abandoned by their unions. “They don’t want trade unions because the unions had not delivered to them…..Trade unions are recognising the more highly-skilled workers, but they are not actually dealing with the lowliest workers, and there is a lack of trust. “It’s very difficult to negotiate with a workforce that lack guidance or a strong leadership.” The CCMA was now talking to the clergy who were the only outside people the workers trusted. Professor Halton Cheadle of UCT’s Faculty of Law said the violence at Marikana had nothing to do with labour regulation.

With Google dominating the search engine market, a recent study by UCT’s Laura Czerniewicz has demonstrated that researchers in Africa are unlikely to ever uncover the information they need. Czerniewicz set out to discover how people locate information on ‘poverty alleviation in South Africa’ using Google’s search engine. The study used individuals across multiple organisations and countries in order to allow for the variations in Google’s algorithms. These account for interaction on social media, personalisation and geolocation.

It was found that a researcher in France had a better chance of finding the relevant information than one in South Africa, for whom no search results were available. Furthermore, researchers who worked constantly in a particular field were prone to personalise their Google search results to the extent that they were locked into that field, and would not find anything outside of it.