24April2017

Donaldson Trust

Operation Hunger

 

 

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The poverty of the African population living in the rural areas had been regularly publicized by the Institute of Race Relations. This combined with a devastating drought in 1986 produced near famine conditions in Limpopo.


Ina Perlman, who was working for the Institute at the time, visited a number of the worst affected areas and was appalled by what she saw. Confronted with the reality of the statistics and with the actual plight of the families, and especially the women who shouldered the burden of providing, she started Operation Hunger.

 

Her intention was not only to provide famine relief for the duration of the drought, but to provide the women with a sustainable means of low-cost of food production that would be available to all and would continue for as long as it was needed.


One area that was particularly hard-hit was Sekhukhuneland, and she established a station there, at Jane Furse, manned by a young man, Johan Rissik, who had a BsC Agriculture degree from Stellenbosch University.

Apart from his general duties, which included the distribution of mealie meal, he was particularly entrusted with the task of encouraging the local women to start community gardens and so combat the near famine conditions by growing vegetables.

But the key to implementing this project was water: the rivers had all practically dried up, as had the dams – but there was water underground, and she persuaded a professor of hydrology from Wits University, Professor Partridge, to do a survey of the area, which resulted in a number of likely sites for boreholes being pinpointed.

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Wherever Johan Rissik could find a group of women who were prepared to form a committee and start a communal garden, he would use this knowledge in order to locate the garden around whichever one of the likely sites was the most convenient for them. And he would then drill for water (in which he had a 100% success rate), install a hand-pump, fence the garden, and generally help in whatever way he could, assisting the women in procuring the seed and in marketing the excess vegetables.


It was to this area that she introduced the Donaldson Trust, which provided the finance for the gardens. And it was here that the Trust subsequently initiated the majority of its rural projects.

 


The marketing of vegetables made a noticeable difference to the level of poverty, but greater than that was that Operation Hunger`s achievement in implementing a scheme in which the cost of feeding children in the stricken areas was reduced to 10 cents per child.


Long after Ina Perlman had retired, many of the gardens, and some of the original staff, were still there.
Operation Hunger is still in existence; dedicated to development, nutrition and poverty relief. It still establishes food gardens, and has broadened its scope to include water and sanitation as well as self-sustaining crèches.


Feeding schemes
About 1 200 adults and 600 children benefit daily from soup kitchens that have been established in the Port Elizabeth townships of KwaZakhele, Zwide, KwaDwesi, New Brighton, Motherwell, Well’s Estate and Ramaphosa. This assistance is designed mainly for street children, orphans, people who have TB or AIDS, needy adults and those awaiting old age pensions.

In the Western Cape, from the townships of the Peninsula, up through Worcester to De Doorns, community-based nutrition surveillance was undertaken. This formed the basis of a targeted feeding programme for children. More than 80 percent of the children receiving assistance are moderately to severely malnourished.

Gardening projects
Gardening projects initiated by Operation Hunger take the form of communal gardens and individual household gardens.

For example, in Newlands in the Eastern Cape, 100 home gardens were established after training of the householders. They produce a range of vegetables and have benefited people beyond the households who grow the produce. Home-based caregivers have access to the vegetables for their patients.

In contrast, the Tshabadimaketse garden project in Limpopo is a collective effort involving 20 gardeners. It generates enough income and fresh produce to benefit 140 people.

Water supply
Many gardening projects would be totally impossible unless the questions of water scarcity and access to water were addressed. In many areas where it initiates gardening projects, Operation Hunger sponsors hippo rollers – implements that allow the transportation of 90 litres of water at a time – or the building of 2 000 litre tanks for water harvesting,

Operation Hunger has also become involved in repairing borehole pumps and installing handpumps in Sekhukhune, one of the driest areas of Limpopo. These apparently small interventions have benefited 3 000 households on a daily basis.

Development projects
Income generating projects that have been nurtured by Operation Hunger have taken various forms from poultry farming, to brick making and sewing groups. Some types of projects have proved more sustainable than others. Increasingly, the organisation is looking to providing micro-loans rather than managing these projects. Examples of this approach are a small bakery in Dysselsdorp (near Oudtshoorn) and a woman who has a small business selling sheep heads in Nyanga.

Health and home-based care
HIV and AIDS aggravate poverty and, at the same time, increase the need for adequate nutrition. It was therefore inevitable that Operation Hunger would become involved in community initiatives on HIV and AIDS. This has taken the form of training home-based caregivers, creating facilities from which carers can operate and finding ways to care for the carers.

For example, in Bapsfontein on the fringe of Gauteng, Operation Hunger provided an office for a team of home-based carers. (WHO pays their stipend – it sound like Gauteng Health to me). These women not only provide home nursing to individuals living with AIDS, but help entire families tackle the social and economic problems they face. More than 70 orphans in the area have been identified and now receive food parcels and other help.

Wellness practices developed by the Capacitar international network to empower people to deal with the stress of poverty and trauma have been introduced by Operation Hunger to support their caregivers and others involved in various projects.

 

Operation Hunger contact details:


Address:

P O Box 5315
Delmenville
1403
South Africa

Telephone:

+27 (0)11 902-4000 / +27 (0)11 865 5203

Fax:

+27 (0)11 902-2537

Banking Details:

Account Name

Operation Hunger Development

Bank

First National Bank
Park Meadows

Account No.

5054 1108 079

Sort Code

256655

Swift Code

FIRN ZA JJ 950

Email:

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