Nokwanda Langazana from the Alliance of Rural Communities (ARC), a pro-poor SA SDI alliance initiative at the Wild Coast, has won the renowned WWSF prize for Women’s Creativity in Rural Life. Nokwanda, whose candidacy was initiated by CORC, is among ten laureates chosen by the WWSF International Prize Jury in Switzerland.
Nokwanda joined the land and tourism initiative CoConnected in 2003, a programme of the South African alliance of SDI (Slum Dwellers International). She soon became Programme Manager of CoConnected and expanded the network to 13 communities benefitting about 5,000 beneficiaries. She relaunched the organization in 2006 as Alliance of Rural Communities (ARC).
Nokwanda and her volunteer team, as well as the programme beneficiaries are living at the environmentally threatened Wild Coast in Pondoland, a Global Biodiversity Hotspot and area of remarkable endemism.
ARC is a network of rural poor communities that ensures a holistic approach of the communities by mobilizing them around their own resources and capabilities to address those challenges that most affect them. It is ARC’s vision to improve livelihoods through raising environmental awareness, strengthen clusters and implement projects for income generation. “I believe in our people and am irritated by the top-down approach of government which only creates more dependency”, says Nokwanda.
Her team has guided communities in setting up food gardens, meal grinding and sowing projects, as well as organic chicken farming. The new focus is on “green” education at eleven rural schools, where ARC runs workshops, starts nurseries and teaches about recycling. “We tell the young people about how we as human beings are linked to the environment, and what financial benefits can come out of that”.
Nokwanda has impressed the jury with her strong leadership skills, her humble intelligence and her self-motivated and tireless efforts for the benefits of the Wild Coast communities. She is a role model for all young South Africans. Nationally not yet recognized, the award will help Nokwanda to take her influence on environmental development in this country to a different level.
Nokwanda informing school teachers at the Wild Coast about her green education programme