Project 3/12: Bornem (Belgium) – Nquthu (South Africa)

26 March 2020

For the second time, PLATFORMA has decided to reward the best city-to-city and region-to-region international cooperation projects. Twelve projects have been shortlisted out of 26 applications. Every day, we are presenting one new project (sorted by alphabetical order). This is how Bornem in Belgium is presenting its partnership with Nquthu in South Africa. Their project is called “Waste for employment”.

“Bornem municipality and Nquthu municipality signed their first cooperation agreement in 2008. The main objective of this cooperation is to exchange knowledge and experience between two local authorities to work on capacity building, to strengthen democracy processes and to contribute to sustainable development. A mutual learning process for both municipalities is the key element. Since 2008, Bornem and Nquthu were involved in alot of different projects. For example, they have set up a “Learn and play” in Nquthu where volunteers are trained to play games with young children after school. Alot of children have received leisure activities in a safe environment.

In 2017, the city-link between Bornem and Nquthu joined a general program in waste management in South-Africa. This general program involves three South-African municipalities (Witzenberg, Nquthu and Bergrivier), three Belgian municipalities (Essen, Bornem and Heist-op-den-berg), the national association of local governments of South-Africa (SALGA) and the Flemish association of local governments (VVSG).

The program has two interlinked components. First, three South African municipalities are involved in City-to-City Cooperation partnerships with Flemish municipalities (Witzenberg with Essen, Nquthu with Bornem and Bergrivier with Heist-op-den-Berg). Through this cooperation, integrated waste management policies will be developed in these three municipalities in order to contribute to good local governance.

The second component consists of strengthening the national association of local governments (SALGA) in its digital capacities and competencies. Using a pilot group of municipalities (including the three before mentioned) to experiment with digital tools, applications and platforms will contribute equally to good and smart governance.

Waste and environmental challenge

The municipalities involved in the program face difficulties with waste and environmental challenges. Nquthu is a South-African municipality in the province Kwazulu-Natal. It has a young population with a high unemployment rate. On top of this, they face difficulties with waste and environmental challenges; inhabitants are used to litter, burn or burry their waste.

The vision of the program is to realize greener and healthier living conditions in Nquthu. It wants to reach that objective by implementing awareness raising campaigns on waste and environment and by collecting and processing fractions of waste in operational facilities. Assisted by the program, Nquthu was able to construct a Buybackcenter. Inhabitants can bring their recyclable goods to this center and receive a small amount of money in return. The Buybackcenter collects these recyclable goods, sorts and bales them. The baled goods are sold to recycle companies in the neighborhood. They are able to negotiate a better price for them because it is sold in large quantities.

Local companies and schools are encouraged to bring their waste to the center. Because of the program, Nquthu was able to extend the area of collection of waste. This facility is creating jobs and creates awareness on the economic possibilities of waste processing. Apart from the infrastructure and the logistics of the collection of waste, a change of behavior is needed. Inhabitants need to take up responsibility and pride for their living environment. Officials of different departments (waste, environment and local economic development) receive training on waste management. This allows them to build expertise on the matter and carry out awareness campaigns.

In line with the expanded public works programme of South-Africa, youngsters are deployed as volunteer to raise awareness on waste management in schools and households. Schools in Nquthu as well as schools in Bornem are working on waste management. By exchanging good practices, they can learn from each other and become more aware on global challenges. The waste management program tackles the problem of waste challenges and unemployment of youth at the same time. It employs local youth to raise awareness in their villages to contribute to a greener and cleaner environment hereby contributing to a more attractive and investor-friendly municipality.”

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