Seriti Institute strengthens community organisation for social health and local economic development. It uses large scale participatory methods, and in its systemic interventions forges partnerships involving communities, government departments, non-governmental organisations, civil society and business.
Seriti's programmes are all designed to achieve social scale impact, with participation of hundreds of people and collaboration of all actors within an activity system. A coherent theory informs Seriti’s approaches, and is perhaps best expressed in the Organisation Workshop which forges organisational literacy amongst a large group of participants, while creating enterprises and social cohesion.
Seriti is one of the Implementing Agents for the South African government’s Community Work Programme, and was one of the main partners in the Kwanda reality TV show.
Westonaria Organisation Workshop
Midway through 2014 a joint meeting of GoldFields and Sibanye Gold board members and community relations managers asked Seriti Institute (Seriti) to consider a developmental intervention in Westonaria. This community and its well-being are vital to both companies’ operations and yet both mining houses and the local municipality have poor working relationships with residents. Indeed Bekkersdal has become renowned as a site of angry protest.
Seriti undertook intense community consultations over a period of months, meeting leading actors in the community as well as external organizations and government officials who work in some way with Westonaria. It also conducted a week-long Community Mapping exercise involving 30 residents of Bekkersdal and Simunye. There were regular meetings with managers from the two mining houses, who formalised their interaction through formation of an Alliance Working Group (AWG). Recognising that agricultural development would be central to the district’s transformation, AfriGrow Development (AfriGrow), a specialist in Agricultural Enterprise Development Programmes and partner of Seriti, was invited to participate in design of the programme.
By January 2015 the AWG and its technical partners, Seriti and AfriGrow, had reached broad agreement about implementing activities aimed at Restoring the Agricultural Economy in Westonaria. Principles were set for programme design. It was agreed that the programme should aim to catalyse partnerships for development, and strengthen working relationships between local government, mining houses and community organization. While the creation of jobs and other economic benefits were paramount, the programme should address all issues affecting people’s lives.
In Mid- 2015, preparation for the Westonaria Organisation Workshop ( WOW) involved conversion of an old hostel at Cooke 2 into offices for crew and participants, as well as a kitchen, storeroom and a sewing facility. The hostel was leased to Seriti to be used as a community facility by Sibanye Gold, and its development into a multi-purpose community centre has become a source of excitement and motivation for the community. On the 14th October 2015 the OW began with an Opening Ceremony with entertainment from local artists and short speeches from a councillor, a representative of the majority union on the mines, community leaders and representatives from mining houses.
Cooke 2 Hostel before the OW
Initial preparation of the Participants Office & Storeroom
Deliverables from the WOW
During the Organisation Workshop, the WOW enterprise managed to clear 20Ha of land, plough, plant trees, erect fencing for the farm, build stands for the park home, erect poles for shade netting and build a base for the storage container. Renovation of 2 vandalised buildings to become small scale poultry houses during and after the OW. One of the demolished rooms at Cooke 2 was converted into a sewing factory during the OW, 16 participants enrolled to participate in the training and 35 more are on a waiting list. A team of 30 participants were involved in various landscaping contracts including Parks, Cooke 2 and Grave Yard landscaping. Westonaria local municipality has agreed to contract the cooperative once it has been formally registered. A block making slab was built during the OW, this aims to produce bricks for the local market. WOW Building Instructor worked with a total of 35 participants in brick-laying, carpentry, glazing, painting and other tasks, the skill level of leading builders is high. In January 2016 the enterprise completed the poultry house and ECD resource centre. This means 9 units renovated at Cooke 2 during the WOW (5 offices, sewing room, store, 2 poultry houses).
To experience the OW further click on the ‘YouTube’ video link below: