Hydraform Impacts African Communities (Part 1)
This article is the Part 1 compilation of how Hydraform played a role in impacting African communities in South Africa, Ghana and Sierra Leone.
Constructing A Community in South Africa
All businesses, but mining operations in particular, are under pressure to contribute to building up the community around their operations.
Tendele Coal Mining operates an anthracite mine about 85km north-east of Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Back in 2007 the company decided, without being coerced into doing so, to make a meaningful contribution to the lives of the Mpukunyoni people on whose land its Somkhele mine is located.
The first step was to establish the Mpukunyoni Development Company in conjunction with the Mpukunyoni Mining Committee. The aim was to provide people with jobs, skills and basic business acumen in the hope that those who are empowered this way will endeavour to help develop others in the community.
Then, in March 2011, an opportunity was identified to enable the community to create and develop a brickmaking operation to facilitate building in the community and surrounding area. A Hydraform M7MI blockmaking machine and a crusher were procured for the project, together with the requisite training for members of the community.
Most importantly, the resulting project allows the community to become an active participant in the production and building process. This fosters a sense of awareness and pride as many largely unskilled men and women are empowered to earn an income and support their families.
Enabling Community Development in Ghana
Hydraform’s relationship with the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority began in early 2012 and sprang from the need for a sustainable housing solution.
The Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) is an independent agency for coordinating a comprehensive development agenda for the northern savannah ecological zone in Ghana. SADA’s main objective is to promote sustainable development while remaining cognisant of environmental impact when delivering solutions to improve the livelihood of the communities in Ghana’s northern regions.
As with many under-developed regions of the world, equipment quality was critical – both in terms of robustness in tough terrain and in terms of the quality of material output. Another key factor for SADA is cost-effectiveness: it needed to deliver quality structures that could be put up as economically and quickly as possible.
SADA procured 50 Hydraform M7MI machines and after the machines arrived in Ghana, Hydraform personnel travelled there to conduct the training programme in December 2013. This included a two-and-a-half-month intensive training programme covering everything from soil selection to production and construction.
All the trained engineers and technicians have now returned to their districts for the roll-out of the remainder of the programme, replicating what they have learned for the construction of houses, clinics, classrooms and other structures in their communities. They will also train the youth in their districts to assist in skills development and the rebuilding of their communities.
Giving A Community That Feeling of Permanence in Sierra-Leone
The Rogbere project began small but today includes a junior secondary school along with teachers’ accommodation, a training centre, an orphanage and accommodation for volunteers, and it continues to grow a little more with each passing year.
The project began back in 2004 when a small Irish NGO, Emmaus, purchased 63 acres of land from the local community of Rogbere Village, a rural area about 42km outside of the capital, Freetown. The vision was to provide skills training and apprenticeships, and a Hydraform M7 blockmaking machine was bought as a cornerstone of this plan.
In 2009, Emmaus got together with another UK-based NGO, A Call to Business (ACTB), which had received a big donation to build a school on the site. The resulting Rogbere School of Excellence (Junior Secondary) was completed and opened in September 2010. A teachers’ accommodation block was also built the following year. Marjie Sutton, director of ACTB, explains that Hydraform technology was chosen because of its ease of use, cost efficiency and the excellent quality of the finished product. “The buildings constructed using Hydraform interlocking blocks are all very attractive, far outshining the usual cement block structures,” she adds, noting also that the mobility of the machines is very useful.
In 2012 work began on a new home for a small orphanage for physically and mentally disabled children that had been sponsored by ACTB since 2007. The new orphanage opened in 2013 and now houses about 40 children. Since then a further small accommodation block has been built to house visitors/volunteers, along with a new toilet block for the school and another building to expand the school, hopefully to include primary and senior schooling.
The NGO’s vision is to see Rogbere Village transformed into a self-sustaining business hub, providing employment and income-generating opportunities for the community and expanding to encompass surrounding villages. As part of this vision, ACTB runs a successful microfinance/SME-lending business with around 11 000 clients across the country, which also benefits the Rogbere community via loans to groups of women.
Plans are also in place for a variety of business activities, including agriculture (cassava) and poultry farming plus other livestock (goats/sheep). All along the way marketable skills have been transferred to members of the community and this will continue to be the focus of the Rogbere project.
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