Everliving Film Screening at the Labia

Newsletter Content

Contributor: Miriam Waltz


On 16 November a group of Rastafarian bossiedokters (herbalists), in collaboration with SLF, hosted a film screening at the Labia Theatre in Cape Town. Titled ‘Everliving’, the stories showed how bush doctors face police harassment, exclusionary conservation polices, lack of access to land, and mistrust. The stories also explored the bush doctor’s identities as healers, fathers, sons, and community elders, and their relationship with nature. The stories were created through a personal storytelling for transformation (PST) process facilitated by SLF in April this year, and were part of the Making All Voices Count (MAVC) project.


The event drew an audience of about 35 people interested in conservation and social justice. After a short introduction of the MAVC project by Joanna Wheeler, Elder Neville introduced the first four stories, which showcased films reflecting aspects of everyday life, of biography, and how the storytellers came to live and believe and do what they do. A brief discussion after these four films addressed questions from the audience around how the bossiedokters became Rastafarians and how they obtain their knowledge about medicinal plants. Leif Petersen spoke about the Herbanisation project, which some of the bossiedokters were previously involved in and which was the focus of his story.


Elder Reuben introduced the second set of movies, centering around ‘persecution’. These three stories directly addressed experiences of oppression or occasions where the freedom of the bossiedokters was constrained. Part of the ensuing discussion focused on the question of permits. While some audience members suggested that the bossiedokters should lobby for better permit conditions, as other groups of mountain-users have done before, some of the bossiedokters objected that this is against their belief-system and their views on nature and private property. The conversation went to common objectives of bossiedokters and conservationists and the challenges the latter group faces in doing their work. In the end, it was clear that for the Rastafarian herbalists, it was their spiritual need and right to go to the mountain and laws and regulations were seen as radically constraining, not just on their physical bodies and their livelihoods, but also on their identity and spirituality.


Competition Commission Grocery Market Award

Newsletter Content

Contributor: Mapaseka Dipale


The Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation has been awarded work by the Competition Commission to conduct a research study on grocery markets. The Competition Commission is one of three independent competition regulatory authorities established in terms of the Competition Act, with the other two being the Competition Tribunal and the Competition Appeal Court (formerly, the Competition Board). These are functionally-independent institutions, but are administratively accountable to the Department of Economic Development.


The aim of the study is to understand informal businesses that sell groceries. These can be house shops, spazas or food vendors in the street. The study will be conducted in all nine provinces across the country and we will cover rural, peri-urban and urban areas. By the end of the study we hope to have interviewed 1800 business owners. The research study will take 5 months to complete and it will consist of the following core team: Leif Petersen, Nathi Tshabalala, Anthony Muteti, Mapaseka Jack and Camilla Thorogood.


Camilla and Mapaseka have recently joined Sustainable Livelihoods. Camilla is currently doing her Masters, with her thesis focusing on nutrition in educares. She recently conducted interviews for this in Vrygrond. Mapaseka is an analyst focusing on GIS Mapping and analysing data. She has a background in Computer Science and Accounting.

PMA Highlights #DelftLivesMatter through Engagement Events

Newsletter Content

Contributors: Nava Derakhshani, Joanna Wheeler and Caitlin Tonkin


Delft, Cape Town, has one of the highest crime rates in the country, with record levels of homicides. SLF has been working with a group of Delft residents (the Delft Safety Group) to help them tell their own stories about the problems they face living in Delft –  this process has been part of the Participatory Monitoring and Accountability (PMA) project. After a year of facilitated engagement, residents have produced short films and personal stories about their lives in Delft and how they could be different. Through a series of public screenings of these films, hosted in late November in partnership with UCT’s Safety and Violence Initiative (SAVI), the group articulated clear messages about how insecurities affect them, and about the support they need to confront these problems. Through this series of public engagements, people from Delft started a fresh conversation with government, civil society and the general public about how to create real partnerships for safer, inclusive cities. They also called for the transformation of the police, more accountable political leaders, and more of a focus on the potential of young people. These events gave an opportunity for everyone to understand why people’s lives in Delft matter.



Further to the public engagement events hosted, the PMA team has produced a report on the process, findings and recommendations of the PMA work. The work focuses on how to make cities and informal settlements safer and more inclusive, taking as a starting point the extremely high levels of insecurity and violence that characterise daily life for many within townships and informal settings in South Africa. Read the full report, including links to the short stories and collective films made by the group, here.


A further blog explaining the Delft Safety Group and PMA process is available here, written by SLF’s Nava Derakhshani and Joanna Wheeler. Below is the short film ‘Gangsters in Uniform’, produced collectively by the Delft Safety Group.


Pending Public Release of Informality Data

Newsletter Content

Contributor: Andrew Charman


The Formalising Informal Micro-Enterprises (FIME) project undertook research on township micro-enterprises from 2010-2015. One aspect of the research was to investigate enterprise characteristics and business challenges. The project conducted 3188 interviews with business owners in eight different township localities. The data has been compiled into a data-set to enable cross-sector and cross-site analysis; the identity of the research informants have, notwithstanding, been anonymised.  SLF has developed a user-manual for future users of the data set. The manual details the research process and questionnaires through which the data was obtained and explains the organisation of the data-set as well as the associated coding framework. The data-set is now publicly available. We are in an advanced phase of negotiating to have the data-set accessible through public data saving and data sharing platform.  Details on accessing the SLF FIME data-set will be announced on the SLF Facebook page.

High Street Study in Katutura, Windhoek

Newsletter Content

Contributor: Andrew Charman


The Unlocking Land for Micro-Enterprise Growth (UMLEG) project aims to influence public policy on land constraints affecting micro-enterprises in urban communities. One objective of UMLEG is to generate knowledge on land use challenges such as tenure insecurity, lack of access to land, municipal by-laws and inappropriate zoning. A second objective is to draw on this research to engage with policy makers and land management stakeholders on practical reforms that can unlock land for micro-enterprise activities.


As part of the UMLEG research / engagement agenda, SLF has partnered with UrbanWorks to complete a study of the high street economy, focusing on the case of Eveline Street in Katutura, Windhoek. Eveline Street is one of several business corridors that have been established by the City of Windhoek to support micro-enterprise formalisation through allocating business rights to high street properties. The Eveline Street case is of particular relevance to South African townships because the high street accommodates a large number of leisure related businesses, including bars, restaurants and hair care services. The SLF research found that business activities have intensified overtime, whilst the mix of business activities has substantially diversified. Eveline Street provides a case of how the high street leisure economy can spur economic growth across a range of sectors and stimulate investment in enterprise facilities and property.


The results of the Eveline Street research will be presented at a series of exhibition events in Windhoek, Johannesburg and Cape Town in February and March 2017. Details will be announced on the SLF Facebook page and via invitation.

Exciting New Project Tackles School Dropout

Newsletter Content

Contributor: Andrew Hartnack


SLF has been granted funding to play a crucial role in building a community of best practice around the important issue of school dropout. The DG Murray Trust has recently initiated the ‘Tackling School Dropout Initiative’, through which it is funding nine organisations, working in four provinces, to pilot innovative approaches addressing school dropout during the course of 2017.


School dropout is a major problem in South Africa’s 20 000 under-resourced schools, with only a small fraction of those who commence school even making it to Grade 12, let alone writing matric. It has been found that having a matric certificate fundamentally improves the chances of finding employment, while those who drop out before this often struggle to put together adequate livelihoods. Foundational learning in poor schools in South Africa is grossly inadequate, meaning that two-thirds of learners are behind on key numeracy and literacy milestones by Grade 4. These academic shortfalls, coupled with other social and economic pressures (challenging home environment, teen pregnancy, gangsterism etc.), lead to the unacceptably high dropout levels which peak in grades 10 and 11.


The nine organisations funded by the DGMT will apply different approaches to address school dropout in high schools in a range of contexts. Led by Dr Andrew Hartnack, SLF’s role will be to research and evaluate these approaches, playing the role of a ‘thinking partner’ to these organisations as they pilot effective ways to keep at-risk learners in school and on-track to successfully completing their schooling. SLF will be conducting research in 20 schools to learn first-hand about these interventions and what potential impacts they can make in the lives of at-risk learners. We will be sharing more about this process and its results throughout 2017!

Engaging Delft in Heart Health

Newsletter Content

Contributor: Gill Black


Our Heart of the Matter (HOTM) project brought together nineteen dynamic Delft community members in a unique partnership with a group of cardiovascular disease (CVD) research scientists from Stellenbosch University (SU) led by Professor Hans Strijdom. The project came to a successful conclusion at a well-attended engagement event held in the Delft Civic Centre in October. All project participants took to the stage with enthusiasm and pride to present their novel photobook and the two short collaborative films they had made, which were seen by an audience of over 120 Delft community members.


Audience participation during a question and answer session with scientists at the HOTM final event in Delft.

Audience participation during a question and answer session with scientists at the HOTM final event in Delft.


The photobook, which was developed through a photovoice approach, shows the variety of food types that are available in the urban township of Delft, describes key factors that influence the food choices of people who live there, and illuminates different perspectives on what healthy eating means.


The two films, Your Health is Your Wealth and For a Better Life, were collectively designed, scripted and recorded by the Delft project participants. The first film illustrates the ways in which heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure and diabetes have impacted the lives of Delft youth. It also describes what the youth participants think can and should be done to address the heart disease epidemic that is ‘’tearing our families apart’’. The second film explores the Delft participants’ knowledge about what is driving the high prevalence of heart disease in their community, and illustrates how their regular engagement with the group of CVD research scientists over nine months augmented their awareness about the health implications of food and lifestyle choices.


Activities at the October engagement event also included question and answer sessions to gauge and amplify the learning that was happening in the room as the event progressed. Many questions about heart disease that had been asked by the Delft participants during project workshops were given carefully prepared and thorough answers by the CVD research team, with the intention of sharing this knowledge with all in attendance. The action-packed programme included energetic dancing and singing performances by local artists which were thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by everyone who was there.


We hope that the HOTM project provides an example of how participatory community engagement in biomedical research can be an enjoyable process of knowledge exchange and co-learning, and that when given enough space and time, it can help to build respectful and trusting relationships between community members and biomedical researchers.


The Heart of the Matter project was supported by a Wellcome International Engagement grant awarded to SLF director and co-founder, Gill Black, in 2015.


‘I have realised the value of having our research ultimately translated to our communities in an understandable manner. At the end of the day, these are the people we are doing it for’.

Dr. Shantal Windvogel; Senior Lecturer, CVD Research Group, Stellenbosch University



Safe Shebeens Hosts Pool Tournament

Newsletter Content

Contributor: Nathi Tshabalala


In 2014, SLF embarked on the Safe Shebeens Project, seeking to contribute to reducing alcohol-related harms by promoting safety in shebeens (unlicensed liquor outlets) that are notorious in government and media circles for being ‘unsafe’. The project promoted safety through signs that communicate house and safety rules adopted by shebeen owners to patrons. The advantage of signs is that they are visible and bridge the literacy gap in townships.


As an extension of this work, SLF organised a pool tournament on 12th November 2016, in Gugulethu. It brought together four shebeens from the three townships of Sweet Home Farm, Gugulethu and Mfuleni. It attracted players (28) and patrons (over 80) to an ‘edutainment’ engagement where sport and education were used to promote safety in drinking venues and contribute towards reducing alcohol related harms. The pool tournament went successfully, and requests for follow-ups from the players have already been made.


Looking Back at the YOLO_Ekasi Exhibition in Photographs

The YOLO_ekasi project worked with youth from various townships in Cape Town, including Delft and Phillipi. During the project, the voice of youth was expressed through their own words, photographs and illustrations. Using a Photovoice process and wave of engagement, the YOLO_ekasi project has generated photographs and critical thinking on the leisure activities of young South Africans and in particular the role that liquor consumption fulfils in influencing leisure experiences.


To finalize the project, SLF and the YOLO_ekasi youth group hosted an exhibition in the Delft Civic Centre in mid-November, which was attended by various stakeholders, including participants’ family and friends, Delft community members and leaders, interested local youth community-based organizations, potential funders, and a few key policy makers from the Western Cape Government and Department of the Premier who are actively engaging with the Alcohol Harms Reduction Game Changer Delivery Unit. The project has come to a close, but the youth remain in contact, both to each other and to the YOLO_ekasi facilitators. They continue to share images and support one another through social media.


Below are a series of images summarizing and showing the sequence of the event (hover over each image to see a description).



In this intervention, SLF has made a crucial shift towards learning about alcohol consumption habits directly from a group of township youth who would normally be considered to be at risk and in harm’s way in a township setting. Our work has made a conscious effort to explore their attitudes and experiences of recreation, and in particular, the consumption of liquor in various spaces and participation in public drinking venues. The project has successfully considered youth attitudes towards liquor consumption and views on appropriate and inappropriate social behaviour. It is hoped that the voices of the youth will be taken seriously and that policy makers will actively engage youth in decisions pertaining to them.


An important future step and objective is to consider how to use this newly acquired knowledge (developed with and by young South Africans) to generate a more inclusive discussion with decision makers on how best to promote responsible socialization in youth’s leisure experiences and in an effort to reduce liquor harms. YOLO_ekasi therefore presents an opportunity for further developing alcohol harm reduction strategies and programmes. It is a particularly effective and practical messaging intervention that engages young adults on key, often sensitive and provocative leisure time and other social issues in a township context.


Words: Nava Derakhshani and Rory Leideman

Images: Caitlin Tonkin and Joanna Wheeler