Sustaining transformative climate resilience by closing the agro‐processing gaps in a water‐scarce mining region of Limpopo, South Africa We propose to scale, climate‐proof and replicate the Mogalakwena Sustainable Development Incubator – a recognised small to medium enterprise Incubator and agricultural development model located in Limpopo Province.
The overall aim is to climate‐proof the Incubator, close the rural‐urban value‐chain to benefit both formal and informal markets within the agricultural and agro‐processing sector, targeting emerging farmers. It will enhance self‐reliance through a technical, organizational and innovation programme originally initiated as part of Anglo‐American Platinum’s Social Labour Plan, which today is a unique and unifying model of transformation built on global best practices in agricultural incubation suited to a local context.
The project will scale up the model in rural and township mining communities of Limpopo, and (eventually) across Southern Africa. The Incubator aligns with the Adaptation Strategic Impacts of the GCF’s Strategic Management Framework in the following manner:
Enhancing livelihoods for the most vulnerable communities by boosting the longevity of mines’ contribution to social‐ecological development. Mines are often custodians of land and own mineral rights, they are uniquely positioned to provide support for land transformation by establishing sustainable agricultural economies in and around their own communities. However, often when mining activities cease, few economic activities remain, and large portions of the local population are pushed below the poverty line. The project will diversify rural livelihoods via strengthening sustainable economic sectors (e.g., agriculture, eco‐tourism) and developing independently operating enterprises and direct job creation.
Creating short‐ and long‐term food security, health and well‐being through a skills and scientific knowledge production transfer programme. We will work with previously disadvantaged farmers to enhance water security at a time when climate projections for this dry‐land region for 2050 suggest more erratic rainfall, droughts, floods, hail and frost, changing pest vectors, heat waves, and low humidity.
Building resilient infrastructure in response to climate change threats by improving and localizing output. This flows into an effective economic framework that optimizes social and environmental and economic benefits from local to regional scale.
Enhance resilient ecosystems by provided targeted training and demonstration on water efficient, and sustainable agricultural practices adapted for climate change and supporting biodiversity and multifunctional, connected landscapes.
Noting that the GCF ‐ SANBI funding framework supports projects that must be (1) transformative, innovative and have a paradigm‐shifting impact, and (2) align with relevant national and sub‐national policies, plans and priorities, the Mogalakwena Sustainable Development Incubator, by design is positioned to support the objectives of the:
South African government’s land reform programme. As noted by President Cyril Ramaphosa in a recent interview with the Financial Times, ‘Cyril Ramaphosa on how to fix South Africa’ current land reform and redistribution proposals are intended to ensure that the rights of all South Africans, and not just those who currently own land, are strengthened – and will boost and not threaten either agricultural production nor food security. It addresses the critical question of how to integrate mining communities living on mine‐owned land within the broader economy by offering alternative land use opportunities.
Rural Infrastructure Development (RID) and Rural Enterprise and Industry Development (REID) programmes within the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s (DRDLR). These programmes encourage rural communities to produce their own food by providing infrastructure and establishing farming‐related enterprises. The Incubator will support the broader concept of Agri‐parks, targeting socio‐economic development in and around mining communities of the region, as well as their associated secondary economies.
Revitalization of Distressed Mining Towns and Labour Sending Areas, as articulated in the recently released Report of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) into the Underlying Challenges of Mining Affected Communities. The South African government continues to grapple with the spatial legacy of apartheid, the redistribution of benefits from mining, as well as its residual environmental impacts. If the community’s self‐sustained life and income generation is to withstand future climate shocks, there is a need for the development of diverse revenue streams and better natural resource management.
National Development Plan (NDP) to curve the long‐term adverse impacts of climate change; promote adaptation; support economic and rural development of the most vulnerable communities; and conserve and restore ecological infrastructure
National Strategic Framework which lists agriculture, food systems and security as priority areas and which guides the alignment of climate funding to national priorities.
National Climate Change Response Policy that aims to ‘promote adaptation and mitigation measures that will make development more sustainable, both in socio-economic and environmental terms; all the while building and sustaining the country’s social, economic and environmental resilience and emergency response capacity’.
Proof of concept
Our field of influence will be two mines – Mogalakwena and Twickenham – and their surrounding rural‐urban landscapes, villages, schools, backyards, processing centres and transportation arterials. This water‐scarce crop region features some of the highest levels of poverty in the country, with growing unemployment and inadequate education. In Mogalakwena, we aim to expand the prototype by an additional 50 ha, within 15km of the mine and broader municipality. In Twickenham 150km to the east, we will also replicate the Incubator model, as well as establish a fresh produce centre either in Mokopane or Burgersfort, the main economic hubs in the area. The project will run over five years, directly supporting up to 75,000 to 100, 000 people, 52% of whom live in female‐headed households. It will target the most vulnerable groups such as the disabled, youth, and women. Developing mine‐related type Farmer Production Support Units, Agri‐Hub Units or Rural-Urban Market Centre Units will support the independence of communities beyond the mine’s lifespan. Attaching mine‐closure funds and vacant mine‐land opportunities to the social development of agri‐businesses will catalyze the integration of communities into the formal economy. With a Global GAP certification, the Incubator has an existing record for establishing and mentoring community-owned cooperative farms through a Cooperative Development Programme at the Incubator’s Groenfontein Training Centre, and history of securing international and local market access for the Cooperatives through partnership agreements such as Fresh To Go, who are the largest vegetable supplier to Woolworths.
At the start of the programme we will establish a baseline. We will assess complex social-ecological systems dynamical interactions and climate‐driven vulnerabilities. An initial-boundary systems analyses will distinguish the scale of influence of the mine and cooperatives operating on tribal land. We will then apply participatory rural appraisal techniques, visioning, backcasting and scenario analyses to determine the socio‐economic status of communities, diverse stakeholders’ assets and capabilities, drivers of vulnerability, the envisioned futures, and opportunities to improve human‐nature relations in an iterative reflexive manner. We will use the Rapid Ecosystem Service Assessment Technique to quantify water regulation/supply, floral and faunal diversity, pollination services, carbon sequestration, flood regulation and soil regulation/supply. To determine educational and organizational skills, an internal and external capacity needs an assessment on a list of agreed upon stakeholders will quantitatively determine whether capacity has improved because of the project.
We propose to use the Capacity Needs Assessment Tool, which uses a scoring system to assess capacity needs and gaps in a network, organisation, or individual. Livelihoods and income will be evaluated using household surveys. Results of the baseline will be spatialized, mapping the rural‐urban linkages, historical legacy, formal and informal markets and relational practices. The baseline assessment will ensure this initiative is realistic, responds to local and national development priorities, establish a social license for development, and is aligned with the actual needs of the target communities. It will further support long‐term monitoring, in‐situ adaptation of our programmes, and allow us to cost all the components to our position on the scale that we hope to achieve.
Climate‐proofing and increasing adaptive capacities of impacted communities
Reduce climate risks by climate‐proofing the Incubator and supporting cost-effective, drought‐adaptive action for targeted land and ecosystem services. The first component will identify and support innovative means of enhancing resilience and overall adaptive capacity to climate change. It comprises building climate‐smart technologies and practices, and the implementation of sustainable land management. An ecosystem and crop‐management plan will be developed in line with current suitability (that is, climate, soil, water, pest incidence, land cover and biodiversity) and the envisioned goals for local communities.
Close the agri‐loop cycle by promoting fresh produce and an Integrated Farm Management System. This component will address challenges identified in the baseline, and will support markets of high‐value vegetables sold at local prices, working with commercialized entities, co‐operatives, and out‐growers. To facilitate access, the Integrated Farm Management System will set up vegetable store rooms, and build a training centre and a central distribution point. The design of a fresh produce market will create a more cohesive centre for market integration, attached to other services (e.g., transportation, sanitation). Market linkages will be within 50‐100km of the main commercial centers.
Knowledge and information support mechanisms. This component will create a framework to support learning and knowledge management activities, with the aim of synthesizing and disseminating lessons learned, and influencing policies and geo‐eco knowledge. Weather stations will be built to collect and share seasonal forecast data, linking up with local telecommunication industries. The knowledge management and production system will be incorporated within the local and provincial government of Limpopo’s strategic spatial development planning processes as well as systemic longer‐term development strategies such as the Limpopo Development Plan including non‐profit entities, the nine Dikgosi in the municipality, and the Farmers’ Associations in the area, serving between 12 and 15 farmers each.
We are committed to support South Africa’s transition to a climate-resilient, environmentally sustainable, and just society as outlined in the NDP. We believe that this project serves to compliment, and enhance the collaborative processes underpinning South Africa’s National Adaptation Strategy. The mining and extractives sectors, as well as the agricultural and rural economies, are key areas to garner adaptation and mitigation action.
It is envisioned the project will serve as a prototype illuminating potential long‐term benefits of private‐sector investments such as mining can be accrued by local communities.
By imbedding adaptive capacities for related communities as integral to these investments, and scaling a climate‐proofed Incubator programme with the support of GCF ‐ SANBI grant funding, lessons for fostering sustainability and resilience towards Southern African food security will be of great interest to multilateral development banks, supported by donor governments, and could inform corporate standards and targeted financial assistance for low‐carbon economic growth in developing economies.
The scaling up and climate‐proofing of the Mogalakwena Sustainable Development Incubator responds directly to the aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), and in particular Goal 1 – ending poverty; Goal 6 – access to safe water, Goal 11 – sustainable cities and communities; and Goal 15 – Life on Land.
Our future as humanity is linked to conservation, promoting more land productive uses, and integrating ecosystem and biodiversity values into local planning and development in the face of climate change.
Concept Note by Peter Coombes, Dieter Brandt & Dr Jessica Thorn