The decentralized cooperation in waste management and capacity building of local authorities in Ekurhuleni, South Africa

The decentralized cooperation in waste management and capacity building of local authorities in Ekurhuleni, South Africa. – Evaluation of results and valorization of good practices – May 2017


Executive summary

The report illustrates the qualitative evaluation of the project “Action to support waste management services at Ekurhuleni municipality in South Africa”. This project was implemented between 2015 and 2017 in South Africa by an international partnership formed by Oxfam Italia (action coordinator), Confservizi CISPEL Toscana, Municipality of Florence, Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (EMM), and the South African Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG). The project, funded by Tuscany Region (TR), was conceived as strategically and operationally integrated into the broader European project Get answers (Greening Economy Through the Adoption of New Solutions in the Waste and Energy Recovery Sectors, GA in short). GA’s main aim was to improve the waste management system in the area of Tembisa, by supporting the capacity building of EMM; at the same time, the project aimed to create job opportunities in the green sector, in particular in recycling, for unemployed people who live in the same township.

The report is organized into two main parts: the first part illustrates the background, context, and operational strategy of the project, the second part deals with the results of the project. The genesis of GA is strictly connected with one of the pilot actions developed in the context of Nets Africa, a previous cooperation programme to enhance local development in South Africa. In the first part of the report we will illustrate in detail the genesis of GA, and subsequently the project strategy which is focused on the involvement of the cooperatives and the local community, as well as on the capacity building of the South African local authorities.

The description of socio-economic context of Tembisa, the township where GA was implemented, is important to understand the consequences of the project on the field. The institutional and legislative background on waste management, on the other hand, provides an overview of the current South African political and administrative processes, and of the specific opportunities and challenges for the introduction of a new waste collection and recycling system. Similarly, it helps understand the involvement of cooperatives and opportunities for local job creation in the green sector. At the end of the first part of the report, a specific paragraph is dedicated to highlighting the added value of the decentralized cooperation model, whose main elements are: the proactive role played by the institutional actors in terms of political engagement and implementation of the project; the mobilisation of local competences and resources in the two countries (Italy and South Africa); the direct involvement and strengthening of local administrations in the delivery of their tasks and areas of competence. The second part of the report illustrates the results of the project and is based mainly on the analysis of the interviews carried out on the field with project partners and stakeholders; in this section, some direct quotes from the interviewed people are reported in order to better show their point of view. One of the main results of GA was the introduction of a new system for managing waste collection in Tembisa, and for involving local cooperatives. More specifically, we analyse the perceptions of cooperatives’ members about the concrete consequences of the project on their work and life. Moreover, we present the activities carried out by GA to increase the awareness of the local community on waste management and sustainability issues; such activities have been carried out in local schools and with the families of Tembisa. Another important result of the project, which is highlighted in the report, is the strengthening of the local capacities of EMM, which results in the support to a more effective implementation of the decentralization process. The influence of GA is analysed also in terms of future perspectives for the partners and stakeholders. At the end of the section on the project results, a short paragraph is dedicated to the presentation of all the lessons learned that have emerged from the analysis and discussion of the results. The conclusions of the report aim to address the key features of GA, to highlight its difference from the previous NA Programme, and the main features for which we may identify GA as a good practice of decentralized development cooperation. Lastly, we discuss the heritage of GA for the main actors involved (Oxfam Italia, RT and EMM ) and emphasis how they could capitalize what they learned in this project for future experiences in South Africa and beyond.