Food-for-garbage push

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

The poverty-stricken people of the Hibiscus Coast municipality in Port Shepstone, south of KwaZulu-Natal, will never go to bed hungry again.

A programme called Siyazenzela was launched yesterday which will reward them with food parcels for the garbage they collect.

The project is the idea of the MEC for transport, community safety and liaison, Bheki Cele, and other local municipal officials. They came up with they idea last year after returning from a study tour of Brazil to learn more about community-based waste management.

Dolly Jula, an unemployed mother of three, was one of the overwhelmed beneficiaries of the programme. She came with two garbage bags, for which she received a sack of vegetables and a food parcel containing rice, mealie meal, oil and beans in exchange.

"I am so happy that I have been given an opportunity to put food on the table," she said.

"My husband is unemployed and sometimes my children have to go to bed hungry."

Cele said after seeing how the idea was working in Brazil, which is also a poverty-stricken country, he was convinced the idea could also help to eliminate poverty in KwaZulu-Natal.

He said the project had got under way quickly because there was already a budget available for garbage collection. He said the problem was that in the past only two companies had been contracted to collect garbage, which enriched a few people and left the rest poor.

"Through the project the money that was supposed to be paid to a few people is used to buy food parcels for poor people in exchange for keeping their environment clean," he said.

The Siyazenzela programme is expected to spread to all municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal